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Kindle Fire reviews round-up: will it beat the iPad 2?

Reviewers and customers in the states have had a few days now to play with the new Amazon Kindle Fire, so what do they think of it?

The Amazon tablet was always going to be a little strange. For years the touted their e-ink Kindle as the superior reading tech, so it’s quite a change of heart to release a Kindle with an iPad style LCD screen.

Is the Kindle Fire better than an iPad 2?

This is one of the biggest questions people had before the Kindle Fire was launched. The consensus answer seems to be “it depends”. Certainly the Kindle has been given some impressive ratings in many of the online reviews but, for such a highly rated product, there’s a lot of critisism in the reviews. The Verge said “As the new flagship Kindle, I expected the experience to be a little more polished”, while the Wall Street journal commented “The Fire’s hardware is plain and clunky”.

Most of the critisism comes from the compromises made to hit a particular price point, and reviewers have been careful to cut the Kindle Fire some slack because of it. The Amazon tablet is less than half the price of an Apple iPad 2, and frankly it shows. The thing is, the Kindle Fire isn’t designed to compete with the iPad 2 or Samsung Galaxy Tab as a full featured tablet. It will never replace your laptop, and it’s not meant to. The Kindle Fire exists solely to make it easy to access all of the content available from Amazon. You can read books, listen to music or watch films, all streamed from Amazon’s cloud servers.

Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet

The Amazon content library is where the Kindle Fire wins out over it’s real rivals, like the new Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet. In terms of hardware, the new Nook makes the Fire look pretty weak, but the Amazon tablet is backed up by one of the largest content libraries in the world, and manages to be a bit cheaper. Where Amazon does rival Apple is in the sheer volume of content available to purchase and download to your tablet, and they use this to full effect in the Fire. The software (a customised version of the now ancient Google Android 3 Gingerbread operating system), is designed to find, display and of course sell as much content as possible.

The good news

  1. Low price
  2. Huge library of content available
  3. Good size for reading books
  4. Easy to find your content
  5. Great cloud integration

The bad news

  1. Software is extremely clunky in places
  2. Slow browser
  3. Dull hardware design
  4. Very little storage for your content on the device
  5. Underpowered

Buying the Kindle Fire in the UK

There’s no word yet on when exactly the Kindle Fire will join the other Kindle models in the UK, but we expect Amazon is focussing on the US market for Christmas and we should expect to get our hands on them early in the new year. Will it be worth the wait? I’m just not sure. I’m happy with my Kindle Keyboard for reading books, and the iPad 2 for everything else. For me, the Kindle Fire doesn’t seem capable of completely replacing either devices.

What do you think of the Amazon Kindle Fire? Will it earn a place in your house?