Q: What can you tell me about the Kindle Fire compared to a regular Kindle or an iPad?
A: I haven't seen uber-hype for a non-Apple product launch in a long time, but Amazon's Kindle Fire certainly has garnered a lot of attention.
The claims that the Kindle Fire is an "iPad Killer" are grossly overstated as they are in completely different classes and appeal to completely different market segments.
Anyone who has ever spent 10 minutes playing with an iPad will experience the difference in ‘user experience' when they pick up a Kindle Fire.
There is no question that someone struggling with ponying up $500-$800 for a tablet will want to take a look at the Kindle Fire, but the $300-plus price difference is like comparing a Honda to a Lexus. They'll both get you there, but you don't have to be a tech fanatic to feel the difference.
As with any tech purchase, what you plan to consume for content and where you use it have a big bearing on the best choice.
The iPad has the largest screen, is the most expensive and has the best selection of apps and content partners, so for all-around entertainment use, the iPad rules. But, if you want a device to hold in your hands while you read books and magazines, the iPad is the worst choice of the three.
There are two things that make the Kindle Fire compelling for tablet owners on a budget: the price and the content libraries.
The biggest reason so many Android-based tablets haven't gained much traction is that they require the user to track down apps and marketplaces for content. Both Apple and Amazon understand the importance of aligning easy content delivery with their devices for the non-technical masses.
Since Amazon is already delivering lots of books, magazines, movies, music and other digital content, getting started with the Kindle Fire is a snap for existing Amazon customers.
As soon as you register the Kindle Fire with your Amazon account, all your previous purchases pop up on the device for instant access.
Downloading more content is but a touch away and very intuitive for anyone that wants to discover additional content.
As a gaming console, movie viewer or music player, there isn't anything special to report and certainly doesn't hold a candle to the iPad, but certainly adequate. Those looking for a cheaper device to distract their kids on a long trip will find that the Kindle Fire fits the bill.
The smaller 7" form-factor is actually a bonus from a portability standpoint as it fits easily inside my jacket pocket or in the back-pocket of my jeans.
It is a back-lit device (like the iPad) so if you plan on using it as a reading device in the sun, you won't be happy. There aren't any side mounted buttons to turn the pages like on standard Kindles either, so you have to use two hands to turn pages.
As an avid mobile music consumer, I found the lack of a physical volume control on the Kindle Fire annoying as well. You have to touch the Settings tool every time you want to change the volume (they'll have to fix this in future devices if they want to be taken seriously as a mobile entertainment option).
If you are simply looking for an e-reader that can play music and you plan to use it in daylight a lot, there's good news! Amazon has lowered the price of their entry level e-ink Kindle to $79 (it was $400 when it first launched).
These devices are very ‘experiential' and appeal to different people in different ways, so there is no single best device.
The best way to get a feel for which device is the best choice for you is to play with them all, so check with your friends and family to get some hands-on experience of your own if possible.
• 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. Readers may send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.