I have been waiting on a tablet for a while. Mainly because, to me, it is going to end up being more of an entertainment device than anything else, so I wasn’t willing to spend a lot of money. Every time I saw a $500 (minimum) price tag for a decent machine, I winced and shook my head.
I finally succumbed yesterday and put in an order for Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The release date is Nov 15th and I hope to have it in my hands by the 20th. After I use it for a while, I will give a full review.
Here are my preliminary thoughts.
What it isn’t
Right from the start, let’s say that the Kindle Fire is not an iPad and it isn’t trying to be. It has a smaller screen, doesn’t offer 3G and hasn’t got a camera.
What it is
The Kindle Fire is a consumption machine. It isn’t made for creating, it is made for reviewing or using. In other words, it is an entertainment device. It is for reading, watching, even reviewing documents. It is also less than half the price of the cheapest iPad. The Fire includes a new browser that apparently learns as you use it. Also, reviews tell me that the Fire is as easy to use as an iPad. That is very important.
What are tablets for?
I have been watching a lot of people use tablets. They are fun, they are cool, and they do some neat things. There are some impressive apps and I see very real uses for tablets in meetings, in court, to use for presentations, for use in schools, etc. I do not in any way minimize the value of a tablet.
But for the kind of work I am doing, a tablet just doesn’t have the power I need. This is exactly why I purchased a netbook. A netbook isn’t as good as a laptop, but it still has a heck of a lot more power than an iPad or any other top of the line tablet. The netbook is a pleasing balance of size and power that enables me to leave my laptop at home when I am traveling for a few days. When I travel with a tablet, I will still need to bring my netbook. It won’t limit what I carry with me it, it will increase it. I hope though that when I travel on vacation the Fire will mean I can leave my netbook at home. After all, vacations are all about consumption.
Yes, you can buy a keyboard for a tablet, but even then, it doesn’t have the abilities of a full computer, and it doesn’t need to. At least not just yet. Tablets have other abilities that are pretty darn cool. I would have loved to have had a tablet when I was in school. With a keyboard tablets are wonderful note-taking devices, and the ability to annotate books would have made me very happy.
What made me buy the Kindle Fire?
I realize, I may get the Kindle Fire, try it for a few days, hate it and return it, but I doubt it. I think I will like it just fine. I have, after all, been reading most of my books on a smart phone sized screen for the past several years. In the end, what did it for me, was the fact that Amazon is creating a lending library that works for anyone who has Amazon Prime and a Kindle. I read. A lot. I also read very quickly. But I hate going to the library. This means I spend too much on books that I frequently read in a relatively short period. The ability to borrow books is a big deal. Also, the fact that I can watch some movies and tv shows with my Amazon Prime membership is nice as well. I do a lot of my shopping via Amazon. I would say most of it. So I already had Amazon Prime, even before Amazon decided to offer streaming videos.
To me, Amazon has done something extremely smart. It has created a tablet that is for the majority. Most people don’t require the best piece of technology, or even the coolest piece of technology; they just want the piece of technology that will give them what they need. Even though I really like technology, I spend my tech dollars wisely. For me, it has never been wise to spend $500 on something that is too big for me to comfortably use as a book, and won’t meet my needs in terms of power. But I am more than willing to spend $200 on something that will easily fit in my hands and comes connected with a service I use a great deal, along with a bunch of features that come along with using that service.
I predict the Fire will do very well. Not because it is equal to the iPad technologically, it isn’t, but because it provides what the average person wants. A lower price, a lot of stuff and connection to yet another very popular brand.