Q: How does the new Kindle tablet compare to an iPad 2?
A: Amazon’s entry into the tablet market (called the Kindle Fire) takes a much different approach from other tablets that have tried to compete with the iPad by not trying to compete with the iPad!
Amazon recognized that trying to go toe-to-toe with Apple sporting another “me too” device was a losing proposition, so they focused on creating an alternative for those that didn’t need all the capabilities or pricey cachet of an iPad 2.
The Kindle Fire will retail for $199 (that’s less than half the price of the cheapest iPad) and launch on Nov. 15.
A huge advantage that Amazon has over other tablet contenders is they also own an enormous library of content and a delivery system that integrates seamlessly into their hardware device (like Apple’s iTunes and App Store).
Think of the Kindle Fire as the razor and all of the content that Amazon plans to sell users as the razorblades.
Amazon had to make compromises in order to build such a low-cost tablet. It has a 7-inch screen instead of a 9.7-inch screen, it does not have a camera (front or back), is Wi-Fi only, has a fixed 8 GB of storage (half the amount of the smallest iPad) and, just like the iPads, it has no expandable storage options (Amazon’s counting on you using “the cloud” for a lot of your storage).
The Kindle Fire is thicker than the iPad 2, but weighs less than a pound (14.6 ounces versus the iPad 2 at 21.1 ounces) so it should feel very much like the Samsung Galaxy Tab’s 7-inch model.
I find that the 7-inch devices are more conducive to being carried on your person; they fit easily into coat pockets and even fit in the back pocket of my jeans making it more likely to be taken on casual outings like dinner or the park.
The display technology is rumored to be the same as the iPad 2 and it will ship with some form of a dual core processor, which should put it on par with the iPad 2 and faster than the original iPad.
The Kindle Fire will not have Bluetooth, HDMI connectors or any type of GPS (it only has a USB interface for syncing and charging) but it can play music and videos, check email and its browser will be Flash-enabled, unlike the iPads.
The key is that Amazon can deliver the content (books, magazines, music, video, games and even apps) right out of the gate because it’s their core business and we have clearly seen that “content is king” when it comes to tablet devices.
If you like to read, Amazon’s Kindle Store offers more than 1 million books, while Apple’s iBookstore has just over 200,000 titles. (In fairness, iPad users can download the Kindle app and buy books from either bookstore, so either device is great for the veracious reader.)
The bottom line is that Amazon focused purely on users who were interested in consuming media, and not creating it, to keep the price down. In my opinion, it’s actually less of an iPad contender and more of an e-reader on steroids.
I don’t see very many existing iPad users selling their tablets to step down to the Kindle Fire, but I do see a huge number of users that couldn’t quite justify the price of the iPad, or that wished their e-readers did more, loving this device.
The best news for everyone is that this will create pricing pressure across all tablet platforms, so you can expect to see prices dropping on other existing devices — especially as we get closer to the holiday shopping season.
• Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio
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