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Fast Break – Kindle Fire First Impressions

by Sage Lane | September 28, 2011September 28, 2011 10:45 am PDT

Amazon Fire Tablet

I wrote a few days ago about how the Amazon kindle would pose a considerable threat to the iPad based on service integration and a killer price point. Boy, was I ever wrong. It’s going to be ever BETTER than even the most optimistic pundit had anticipated. Let’s talk about the Kindle Fire.

Much of my analysis was based on MG Siegler’s report on TechCrunch. While the report was favorable, it left many wondering whether or not Amazon would be able to bunch all of its threads together, and whether or not the tablet would sport hardware that was appealing.

The answer to both of those questions is a resounding yes.

First, let’s discuss the hardware. Many worried that it would be woefully underpowered and be nothing more than a simple, black, content-spewing box. It is black, they got that much right. It was projected to look like the RIM Playbook, and it does. It’s black, minimalistic and has the same 7-inch size screen. The display is IPS, the same technology used in the iPad, which allows for vibrant colors and great viewing angles, and is covered in Gorilla Glass. It weighs 14.6 ounces. Siegler thought it was a single-core device. It has a dual core. It was supposed to cost $250, it costs $199.

Now, let’s look at the software and service integration. It’s running a forked version of Android 2.2. It looks nothing like Android, but it provides many of the same benefits, along with integrating all of Amazon’s great services. I’ve detailed those services in my last article on this subject, but I’ll recap the parts that will form the core of the Kindle Fire experience. Of course, the Fire will have acess to the Jeff BezosKindle store, Amazon Music services, magazines and all of the other content that Amazon provides. I believe the killer media feature will be Prime and how Amazon’s Whispersync cloud service runs alongside it. Prime is a $79 service that will provide tablet owners with unlimited instant streaming of 11,000 TV shows and movies, and it will be managed in part by Whispersync. Whispersync remembers where you were in the movie or book, and resumes playback at that location upon return. The Kindle Fire will be continually backed up and synced with the cloud. No more cords. All in all, with the Kindle Fire you will have access to over 18 million song, movies, TV shows, books, magazines, apps and games. That’a lot of content. Lastly, Amazon has introduced a new service called Silk, which will handle internet browsing on the Fire. It offers “dynamic split browsing”, which greatly improves the performance on the Fire by storing a cache of common files on a single server. It’s a smart service, and will observe user behavior, and can predictively pre-load pages that a user might click on. And you thought predictive texting was neat-O.

Amazon needed to do two things to sink Apple’s battleship, undercut the iPad’s price by a large margin, and integrate their already robust services into the Fire. They did both, and in a bolder way than most had imagined. The Kindle Fire is not a beast, certainly. But with an IPS display and a dual-core processor wrapped in Gorilla Glass for under $200, I’m more than a happy man. The killer feature, the service integration, was highly impressive as well. The Prime catalog will continue to expand, and the cloud services look robust and will give iCloud a run for its money.

By integrating all of Amazon’s core services and by producing a solid piece of hardware, Amazon has made a decisive thrust into the tablet market, and Apple is going to have to react forcefully.

The Kindle Fire Ships November 15.


Sage Lane

Sage is a wandering vagabond currently based out of Seoul. When he's not busy scouring the web for the latest tech news and gossip, he does his best...

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