If you want the one-sentence of the Kindle Fire, here it is: Great for the price, but it’s no iPad.
That’s the general consensus from reviewers publishing their takes on Amazon’s super-cheap tablet Monday morning. The Fire has its faults: no hardware volume button, a somewhat awkward display ratio and a screen with a glare that makes it a bit difficult for actually reading.
On the other hand, that screen displays rich colors and clear text, and the tablet also has access to a huge amount of content from Amazon’s digital storefronts. Plus, you may remember, it costs $200.
The Washington Post columnist Joshua Topolsky likes the Fire’s access to content and its software. But he said that there are certainly kinks that should be worked out -- such as lags during scrolling and an innovative browser, Silk, that doesn’t quite live up to demos.
Here’s a deeper dive into what people are saying about the Kindle Fire:
David Pogue, the New York Times: Pogue is cool on the Fire, offering much more praise for the other new Kindles in the Amazon lineup, the Kindle Touch and the Kindle. It’s not a bad tablet, he says, but it needs a little more sculpting.
“The Fire deserves to be a disruptive, gigantic force — it’s a cross between a Kindle and an iPad, a more compact Internet and video viewer at a great price,” he writes. “But at the moment, it needs a lot more polish; if you’re used to an iPad or “real” Android tablet, its software gremlins will drive you nuts.”
Donna Tapellini, Consumer Reports: Consumer Reports has good things to say about the tablet’s display, navigation and access to content. Tapellini also said that the tablet’s touch screen was mostly responsive, though it had some moments when it required a second (or third) tap to get to the right spot.
“In our first look, the Amazon Kindle Fire was a fine performer, especially if your priority is to get Amazon content including movies, TV shows, music, and books,” she writes. “The display is smaller than the iPad’s, and the app market is more limited, but for $200 you’re getting a full-featured tablet that performs well.”
Donald Bell, CNET: Bell says that the tablet lacks the specs of more full-featured tablets — 3G wireless, cameras, Bluetooth, etc. — and requires Amazon’s $79-per year Prime service for some of the tablet’s more advanced features. Still, he says, “for those of you unwilling to shell out $500 for an Apple iPad 2, and wary of buying a piece of junk, Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire tablet should be at the top of your wish list.”
He recommends the Fire for those who just want to use their tablet for some light entertainment, though he doesn’t give the tablet the CNET “Editors’ Choice” stamp, instead calling it “good enough.”
Jon Phillips, Wired: Phillips offers up one of the most critical reviews of the tablet, expressing particular disappointment with its Web browsing capabilities, small screen size, and “insufficient processing power.” The price, he notes, can’t be beat and will probably break the willpower of many customers, and he also says it’s a good platform for video.
“At the end of the day, the Fire must be judged by how well it executes in terms of its Newsstand, Books, Video, Apps and Web features,” he writes. “It does nothing very well, save video playback, running various Android apps, and making the business of Amazon shopping alarmingly fun and easy.”
Tim Stevens, Engadget: Stevens likes the Fire overall, particularly calling out its store integration. He also had good things to say about the Silk browser, calling it “comfortable and intuitive,” though noting that it’s not the speed demon that Amazon showed off it demos.
“Stacked up against an iPad 2, the Fire routinely got beat in rendering pages -- but often not by much,” he writes. “We also stacked it up against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, which was often slower. Finally, we couldn’t resist pitting the Fire against the PlayBook, and we found those two to be neck-and-neck in most tests.”