Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

Summary: ZDNet Great Debate put Amazon Kindle Fire vs. Apple iPad: Violet Blue picks Fire for the top holiday tablet.

TOPICS: Hardware, iPad, Mobility

Last Tuesday's ZDNet Great Debate pitted Amazon's new Kindle Fire against Apple's iPad in a tablet-on-tablet fight to the finish for which slab would be this holiday's best pick for gadget gifting.

I didn't really expect that I'd be the girl in the Kindle Fire camp - not at least until I got one in my hot little hands. And after watching my colleagues take their Fires out for some revealing road testing where the Fire stayed Internet-speedy when everyone else choked thanks to Amazon's cloud.

Strong motivation was that when I'd talk to friends (and even strangers) about gifty gadgets for this year's sweet surprises, so many of them were wondering which tablet they should pick.

If you know the tablet genre, you're already on the up and up that these tabs are wholly different beasts. But that's not how general consumers seem to see it. Just look at Nook's current competitive holiday commercials on TV right now (if you're in the US, anyway) and you'll undertand what I mean.

As illustrated in the tough debate, the Fire has a world of fun and practicality going for it. In fact, looking over the arguments, the Fire makes the iPad look stalwart and a bit crotchety - maybe even like it's not for, erm, younger generations.

The Kindle Fire is rugged. It is not made for flouncy, delicate-handed white-gloved folks that maybe don't code as much anymore but love feeling productive on a big pricey dinner plate. Or those that prefer newspapers and magazines carefully screened to exclude any so-called offensive content through the Apple app store.

I'm a Silicon Valley and San Francisco native, and that's probably why I think the Kindle Fire is a bit more Barbary Coast WIld West than Cupertino. Censor or screen my media? Take your ball and go home, chump.

Kids like me have tech and openness in our DNA, and we need our gadgets to keep up with us. That means high expectations for entertainment and functionality, an open platform ethos (Fire is Android Gingerbread), freedom of choice, and something that can take a few knocks.

As I pointed out in the debate, UK based Books4fun got a Fire and then proceeded to attack it. Despite the Samsonite-like torture, it was flawless even after he stabbed the screen with a screwdriver and a woodworking tool. He also dropped it from three feet onto a stone floor and it was just fine; it kept playing the music video he was streaming.

He then tried an angled drop from six feet and it was unscathed. He finally damaged the Fire when he did a flat-face drop from from six feet; the deliberate drop cracked the internal LCD but not the gorilla glass.

You can see his video of the tests on YouTube: Kindle Fire Gorilla Glass Drop and Scratch Test.

What I'm saying is, an iPad isn't as much for superusers as it seems. Those of us that bang our tech around are really using it. The iPad isn't a work device if you are a high-output creative content maker. Ever try and write 5,000 words on one? Talk to any author about it (like me). For that, you need to add a bluetooth keyboard and then you might as well be back on your PC or like me, on my superlative MacBook Air.

There's just no way for us workers to get needed screen real estate on any tablet without a workaround: obviously Amazon realized this and focused on what tablets are actually great for. Watching videos, checking in with social, playing games, reading cool stuff, shopping, and surfing.

And unlike recent issues with spyware trackers like CarrierIQ, privacy-minded surfers can easily turn off the Fire's Silk browser cloud function for privacy.

This season, lots of people will be wondering which one to pick. I think that except for people in the SV bubble, few people can afford to make a bad choice.

And Amazon is making it very desirable for its Prime customers. Prime peeps get all kinds of goodness for free.

What if Apple had a version of Prime, and for a reasonable flat fee (Amazon's $79) you could have thousands of movies and TV shows in iTunes streamed for free? (This is what Prime offers free on the Fire.)

Or a paid app a day - and not the cheap ones, either?

Apple doesn't.

Oh how I wish they did.

Families will certainly pick the Fire because it's inexpensive, scratch-proof, drop-proof and kids really love it. And, if they talk to anyone with a Fire (like me) I can say they won't regret the $199. Or the nice cases already available.

At $199, the Kindle Fire is the clear winner. You can get two for the price of one iPad and it doesn't ever feel like you're settling for less. The Fire is $300 cheaper than the entry-level iPad and $630 less expensive than the 64GB model with 3G.

I'm a serious and longtime Apple user. So it really surprised me when I got the Kindle Fire and found myself diving into it deeper and faster than my first iPad encounter. And I should disclose that the second time I touched an iPad I accidentally scratched it by nudging it - simultaneously ruining a gadget and a friendship.

The Fire?

Unscratchable, like every friendship should be.

Topics: Hardware, iPad, Mobility

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  • Kindle Fire and iPad are too different devices, and these are for different

    ... "target groups", so to speak.

    These who eyed iPad would hardly buy Kindle Fire since it is much lesser device in many ways.

    And these who thought that paying $500 for iPad is too much and did not care would only look at Kindle Fire anyway since these $200 is maximum financial/psychological barrier until which they can even think of considering buying a tablet.

    So "Kindle Fire versus iPad" makes much less sense than "Kindle Fire versus non-iPad tablets", many of which cheaper than iPad, too (especially 7"-sized devices).
    • "much less"?

      @dderss - of course it's a personal use case thing ... but I think that the vast vast majority of people wouldn't find that to be true, "much less".

      In a few years, when video calls are a norm, that wouldn't be true ... that's the one use case that WILL be generally applicable that differentiates them, imho ... but by then, even the very low end tablets will have reasonable front-facing cameras and mics (I'd be surprised if the 2nd version of the Kindle Fire doesn't have both, even if it doesn't have a back camera).

      Of course, I'm just stating my opinion, just like you :-)
    • nonsense

      lady gaga here managed to post one of the most ridiculous posts on zdnet in a long time and that says something. there is not one coherent thought in this drivel. ipad vs. fire. sure there are some good arguments to make, but she isn't able to make one of them. just bs. zdnet where have your editors gone?
      • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

        Much like your 3rd grade teacher would why? Can you give a concrete example? Otherwise you mind as well get a D+ for your book report that says "I like this book, it was interesting. the end'.
  • Simple as

    Seems straightforward enough:<br> Fire<br> AIR (or maybe Ultrabook)<br> Windows Workstation<br> Free(or cheap) public cloud app. + DIY private cloud<br>Why do some ZDNET bloggers make the choice appear so difficult? (Present company excepted.)<br><br>" ... for flouncy, delicate-handed white-gloved folks that maybe dont code as much anymore but love feeling productive on a big pricey dinner plate."<br>Now that's what I call a scratch!<br><br>HAND
  • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

    Let me get this straight. She's raving about a smaller device that doesn't scratch. Is that the complete gist of her arguments? Really? Really?!? Last I checked a larger screen is a plus for the iPad, not a minus. Last I checked there are a ton a very good screen protectors you can put on any tablet that will protect it quite well thank you very much. Movies and content? Netflix blows Amazon Prime out of the water. Apps? Puhleeze, that's all I've got to say. She knocks the iPad because it doesn't have a keyboard? Show me the keyboard on the Fire. Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black? I'm sorry, this is one case where I had to speak up because her arguments just make no sense whatsoever. I've heard plenty of good arguments for getting a Kindle Fire over an iPad, and I've heard plenty for the reverse as well. Her arguments make zero sense and I find it ridiculous that someone would be providing a venue for her article to be counted as a legitimate source or opinion on which people will be basing their purchases. "It's seeeexy!" Oh? Well, then I simply MUST buy it! Again, I say Really?!?
    • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad


      A fact that wasn't mentioned in the article is that the Fire also streams Netflix and Hulu Plus in addition to the Amazon Prime library. I think Violet Blue was just comparing the Amazon Prime offering directly to the iTunes offering.

      As for the keyboard statement - the way I understood her angle, it was that if she's going to do real work, she would do it on her computer, so spending more money on an iPad to do things beyond what the Fire could do didn't make sense.

      I agree with her on that point. I have an iPad and a Fire. However, since I received my Fire, I've been using it almost exclusively. I credit this primarily to the Fire's size/portability, durability, and access to Amazon content. It's just so easy to throw the Fire in my bag and go.
      • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

        Funny. I remember when the iPad was new there were many people saying it was so easy to throw it in their bag and go, as compared to a laptop. Well, my phone does everything the iPad and Fire do plus much more and I can throw it on my waist and go! So there. Tablets are totally unnecessary. People just love getting the latest thing and it's as simple as that.
      • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

        @cobradeathmatch: I have an iPad and a Sony eBook Reader and the Sony gets used exclusively for reading... when I am answering the call of nature.

        I now refer to it as my "toilet device".
      • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

        Well written and I concur.
      • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

        @lippidp Technically smartphones or even cell phones all together are unnecessary so what is your point?
      • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

        @cobradeathmatch If that's the case, you would find the BlackBerry Playbook as easy to take with you and will do so much more.
        John Hanks
    • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad


      The Kindle Fire has a Netflix app that works perfectly well. And the number of apps you can install on the Kindle Fire is impressive, even without rooting it and installing the Android Market. As for the screen size, it's not as clear a picture as you seem to believe. Not everyone (myself included) wants to carry around a 10" device, no matter how thin it is.

      If money is no object to you, the $500+ iPad will definitely buy you better hardware than the $200 Kindle Fire, but it's not about better hardware for everyone. Some people don't want to pay for the bells and whistles because they won't use them.
      • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad


        Quite true.. If they wanted better hardware for the same price as the low end iPad they may look at the ASUS Prime coming to market on Dec.15.. Cost $499 for twice the memory, more ports and better processor.
      • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

        @bhartman36 Since when does spending $500 on a device even remotely mean that money is no object to somebody? You would have a case if they were pretty much the same hardware wise but priced the same as they are now but of course that is not the case. The iPad has more to offer than the Fire well above and beyond bells and whistles let alone you have nothing to back up your claim they won't use them anyway. They both have their place and neither are really in the others market. I personally see the Fire as a great companion to the iPad and my wife is getting one to go along with her iPad for Christmas. I have used a Fire and for my use I can say the extra money for the iPad and its "bells and whistles" are more than worth it. Of course my use or financial thresholds do not apply to anybody else nor do yours.
    • Yes, how dare they

      @stan@... How dare they allow a dedicated Apple buff to like something not made by Apple; Apple should sue, after all they've spent years raising a generation of blinded devotees who willingly obey Apple's every whim and direction. And to allow that on a forum? Disgusting.

      Don't worry, Apple is not the evil demon that they depicted Microsoft to be; they'll do what's right and sue everybody they can in hopes of eliminating any competition that has the nerve to challenge their dominance.

      Of course bigger is better, that's why people carry these things instead of using a desktop; a small screen device can't adequately display the glowing Apple logo which of course tells everyone around what a, what an intelligent free-thinking individualist the owner is.
      • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

        @garyleroy@... And there's not a bit of sarcasim in your response. Gee, I'm surprised at your response since you love Apple so much. You probably get up every morning and think "WOW, it's a sunshiny day with Apple in my life. What can I do to make them more money. I do want to love them and squeeze them and take them home."
        I just wasted the last 2 minutes of my life making a useless point like you.
      • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

        @garyleroy@... BTW, are you just as negative toward MS for being the dominant OS or is it just limited to Apple bashing only.
      • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

        @rpollard [b] You probably get up every morning and think "WOW, it's a sunshiny day with Apple in my life. What can I do to make them more money. I do want to love them and squeeze them and take them home."[/b]

        Every damned day! I think about Apple every second of every day - I hate to to go sleep because that means my Apple device can no longer be strapped to my hip.../sarcasm Why is it you die hard ABAers like to make this claim? Is it because this is how you feel about Microsoft or Google depending on your religion of choice? [b]

        BTW, are you just as negative toward MS for being the dominant OS or is it just limited to Apple bashing only.[/b]

        Ahhh it's Microsoft then. That explains much.[b]

        I just wasted the last 2 minutes of my life making a useless point like you.[/b]

        Did you mean to make garyleroy a "point" or to make a point [i]to[/i] him? Dude if you are going to be a snarky insulting smarmy troll at least use the fraking spell check.

        I have a question for you there sport: Is anyone who disagrees with your stance on Apple some sort of Apple worshiping frothing at the mouth zealot? And is anyone who loves Microsoft a member of your flock? What do you call yourselves anyhow Ballmerites? Ballmerbuddies?

        What happened to using tech as a tool rather than a religion? Sure I have an iPhone but I also have an Android based smartphone, a Nook Color, a Dell XPS running Windows 7, and an HP Pavilion running Windows 7 - they all do what I need them to do when I need them. But I guess that makes me a blasphemer in the Churches of Apple, Microsoft, and Google because I use all tech and must be excommunicated from them. Somehow I think I'll be okay with that...
      • RE: Great Debate postmortem: Kindle Fire vs. iPad

        @garyleroy@... I see you are working your way down the small minded haters talking point list. Try having a thought for yourself next time especially since you accuse Apple fans of blindly following.