Kindle Fire Reviews Run Hot and Cold

Amazon's Kindle Fire arrives a day earlier than expected—here's what everyone's saying so far.

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Silk Browser

Amazon made a big deal about the Kindle Fire’s Silk Browser, which taps into Amazon’s servers to improve page load times. The results? Mixed. MSNBC’s Wilson Rothman felt something was happening:

Speaking of fluid, the Fire’s Silk browser is nice and quick, and only gets faster as it wises up to your browsing patterns. If you always hit the msnbc.com home page then jump to Tech/Sci, it will start caching Tech/Sci in anticipation of your click.

Topolsky, over at the Verge, didn’t notice a difference:

It sounds good on paper, but in my testing, I didn’t notice any page load times that I would consider noticeably speedier … In fact, the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 had much faster load times on most sites I tested side-by-side.”

Oh, and those lag issues are ever-present in the browser, as Wired‘s Jon Phillips points out:

Besides poor load times, the Fire’s browser lurches in fits and starts when swiping through already loaded web pages. And sometimes the browser doesn’t react to touch gestures at all, requiring that oh-so-annoying second tap or swipe instead. Pinching in and out of magnified views is also a test of one’s loyalty — this action looks like choppy stop-motion video on the Fire, whereas on the iPad 2, it’s fluid and seamless.

Content

Reviewers seem willing to redeem the Kindle Fire, in part, on the strength of its content. Although the Amazon Appstore has a smaller selection than the Android Market, MSNBC’s Rothman viewed it as a positive:

Amazon’s Appstore is a huge asset. Because it is tied to Amazon’s own purchasing system, it’s easier for you to buy apps from a trusted source. And because Amazon went with quality over quantity, it lacks the feel of Google’s Android Market, which can get so slimy that it could use a hosing down from time to time.

Mashable’s Ulanoff reminds readers to look at all they’re getting in one package:

This is a highly polished device and collection of services. It bakes in books, music, movies, apps/games, magazines, multi-tasking, universal search, easy access to anything you have in Amazon’s cloud, and a sense that this device and Amazon know you.

Conclusion

Looking through the reviews, I see some big complaints with the Kindle Fire. Performance is laggy, the interface needs some tweaking to make navigation easier and there’s only 6 GB of space for your own locally-stored content. If the Fire was a $500 tablet, I’m sure it’d get panned. But for $200, the Kindle Fire simply has to be good enough, and most critics think Amazon pulled it off. Here’s Donald Bell of CNet:

[A]s much as I like this tablet, the Kindle Fire isn’t getting our best rating or an Editors’ Choice. There’s no doubt that I would choose an iPad 2 over a Kindle Fire in a heartbeat. In fact, I’d take an original iPad over a Kindle Fire.

But I don’t live in a fantasy world where people are offering me free iPads. I live in a world where even $199 sounds like a lot of money. In that world, I applaud Amazon for making the best tablet value on the market.

MORE: Amazon Services, Not Pricing, Is Why the Kindle Fire Is Disruptive

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