For the last few months, the only device that could match the iPhone 5 for sheer volume of rumours was surely the fabled Amazon tablet.
When it finally arrived in the form of the Kindle Fire – alongside two new Kindle ereader models – it turned out to be a lot like what we expected, which is no bad thing.
The Kindle Fire has impressed a lot of people – including us – with its revamped Android interface and impossibly low price, but like any first release, there are more features we want to see.
Here’s what we’re hoping for in the Kindle 2.
Well, it’s the obvious one for Kindle 2, isn’t it? There’s always been an option for 3G-capable regular Kindles, so it’s a little disappointing not to see a Kindle Fire model capable of connecting to the mobile networks.
Granted, having the kind of unlimited free 3G you get with Amazon’s ereaders isn’t going to be a likely option, but it only makes sense to have it so that Whispersync can sync up your books and movies from the tablet anywhere.
And the Silk browser seems custom-made for 3G browsing, with all the heavy lifting being done on Amazon’s end – much like Opera’s Turbo feature, or the Opera Mini browser.
2. An HD screen
The Kindle Fire’s 1024 x 600 screen is 16:9, making it great for many movies or TV shows, but it’s a lower resolution than 720p. What we really want in the Kindle 2 is a 1280 x 720 resolution, so HD streaming movies could play at their native size and look their best.
Admittedly, squeezing that many pixels into a seven-inch screen is going to be something of a challenge. So perhaps the solution is…
3. A 10-inch model
We’re not actually suggesting that the current seven-inch Kindle Fire should be replaced with a 10-inch model, but rather have a second higher-end model with a different name. Inferno, or something.
Having a second, higher-end option would be great for those who find seven-inch tablets to be a little small, and it would be far easier to get a 1280 x 720 panel into it. It would also be able to have a larger battery capacity, so you could get more use out of it on a charge.
That said, having this option would put the Kindle Fire well into iPad territory, which it’s so far managed to avoid by being smaller, lighter and focussing on content. For this reason, we think this is one of the least likely Kindle 2 items on this list to happen, but we can dream.
4. A front-facing camera and microphone
Though rear-facing cameras on tablets have yet to prove themselves to be anything other than something that some people on the internet insisted was important, then realised wasn’t important at all once they got them, front-facing cameras are a good fit.
Skype finally now has a native iPad app, so it seems inevitable that it and other VoIP apps, such as Tango, will want to be on the Amazon Appstore. The only problem is that Kindle Fire lacks both a camera and microphone.
Considering that even some TVs now feature Skype, it seems as though no device is complete unless your family can bug you on it. It would be nice to at least have option to chat to people on the Kindle Fire 2.
5. A bigger focus on games
Amazon’s been really aggressive with its focus on content for the Kindle Fire, and that includes apps and games, but the games side has been a bit bland. Plants vs Zombies and Angry Birds are great, but they’re not new and exciting.
Apple had a barnstorming moment when it showed off the Unreal Engine running on iOS, and we were hoping that Amazon would do something similar. Great moments like that are what encourages developers to a platform, and we wanted to see Amazon do something to get people as excited about gaming on the Kindle Fire as they are on iPhone and iPad.
Of course, the Amazon Appstore doesn’t have to be the only way to get games on the device. Sticking with the cloud focus, having the OnLive game service pre-loaded, like it is on the HTC Flyer, would have been a great way to offer something for gamers without using up the meagre 8GB of storage on the Fire.
6. A colour e-ink/hybrid display
We’re definitely in wishful-thinking territory here – good colour e-ink screens and hybrid LCD/e-ink screens have been eagerly anticipated for years but have failed to materialise in any meaningful way – but this would definitely be huge feature for the Kindle Fire 2 if it could be achieved.
A screen that gives you the same battery life and ability to read outdoors as the Kindle ereader models, but can also playback smooth, colourful video? To coin an Apple phrase, that would be magical.
7. Better international content
We’re still waiting for news about an international Kindle Fire release date, which is presumably in no small part due to the fact that Amazon’s content offering outside of America is somewhat leaner than in the States.
In particular, the fact that Amazon Prime in the US includes unlimited streaming video is something that it can’t seem to replicated elsewhere – even in the UK, where Amazon owns LoveFilm.
The Kindle Fire is a content-first device, so until the rest of the world gets the same range of content as America, the tablet will always be hobbled internationally.
8. Better battery life
The battery life that Amazon gives for the Kindle Fire is about adequate for what is, essentially, a budget-priced tablet, but it’s a little disappointing in comparison to other devices.
Where the iPad offers 10 hours of video playback, with Wi-Fi on, the Kindle Fire is rated for 7.5 hours with Wi-Fi off. Where the new Kindle ereader is rated for a month of use with the Wi-Fi off, the Kindle Fire will give you eight hours of continuous reading time before giving up.
We know that the differences between e-ink and LCD displays mean the Kindle Fire can never match the Kindle for battery life, but we would like to see it at least match the iPad in the Kindle 2.