Engadget reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Sluggish, clunky, too limiting and restricted

“The Kindle Fire is not identical to the PlayBook on the outside, but it’s pretty damned close. Turn off the screens then put a little black tape over the BlackBerry logo on RIM’s slate and, at a glance, there’s almost nothing between them,” Tim Stevens reports for Engadget.

“The Fire gets by with the same silicon that powered the PlayBook: a dual-core 1GHz TI OMAP chip, but here paired with only 512MB of RAM. Perhaps it’s the step down from the standard 1GB, or perhaps it’s the heavy-handed software overlay running atop Android, but the Fire never delivers smooth, seamless performance,” Stevens reports. “Amazon’s own media players work well, but third party ones that offered better compatibility with file formats universally did not… Given the Fire has no access to the Android Market many of our favorite benchmarks were unavailable to us. We were able to sideload Nenamark and Nenamark 2, but running the second caused the Fire to crash. Hard.”

Stevens reports, “When stacked up against other popular tablets, the Fire can’t compete. Its performance is a occasionally sluggish, its interface often clunky, its storage too slight, its functionality a bit restricted and its 7-inch screen too limiting if you were hoping to convert all your paper magazine subscriptions into the digital ones. Other, bigger tablets do it better… ”

Read more in the full review here.

MacDailyNews Take: One naturally thinks that a 7-inch screen would offer 70% of the benefits of a 10-inch screen. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a 7-inch screen is only 45% as large as iPad’s 10-inch screen. You heard me right: Just 45% as large.

If you take an iPad an hold it upright in portrait view and draw an imaginary horizontal line halfway down the screen, the screens on these 7-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the ipad’s display. This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion. While one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference, it is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size.

Apple has done extensive user testing on tough interfaces over many years and we really understand this stuff. There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touchscreen before users cannot reliably tap, flick, or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps… The 7-inch tablets are tweeners. Too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad.

These are among the reasons we think the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA. Dead On Arrival. Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small and increase the size next year, thereby abandoning both customers and developers who jumped on the 7-inch bandwagon with an orphaned product.

Sounds like lots of fun ahead.Steve Jobs, October 18, 2010

Related articles:
Wired reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Web browsing sucks, emotionally draining, makes reading a chore – November 14, 2011
The Verge reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Uninspired, confusing, incredibly unoriginal – November 14, 2011
NY Times’ Pogue reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Sluggish, ornery, unpolished – November 14, 2011

PC Magazine reviews Apple iOS 5: The best phone and tablet OS, Editors’ Choice – October 15, 2011
The Guardian reviews Apple iPad 2: Ahead of the pack – March 25, 2011
The Telegraph reviews Apple iPad 2: Does everything better; now’s the perfect time to join the iPad club – March 25, 2011
Computerworld reviews Apple’s iPad 2: ‘The Holy Grail of computing’ – March 16, 2011
Ars Technica reviews Apple iPad 2: Big performance gains in a slimmer package
Associated Press reviews Apple iPad 2: Apple pulls further ahead – March 10, 2011
PC Mag reviews Apple iPad 2: The tablet to get; Editors’ Choice – March 10, 2011
Associated Press reviews Apple iPad 2: Apple pulls further ahead – March 10, 2011
PC Mag reviews Apple iPad 2: The tablet to get; Editors’ Choice – March 10, 2011
Pogue reviews Apple iPad 2: Thinner, lighter, and faster transforms the experience – March 10, 2011
Baig reviews Apple iPad 2: Second to none – March 10, 2011


  1. So now we know the reason for its low price point: the Kinfle Fire isn’t able to compete on other aspects. And apparently the price for a Kindle Fire is still too high.

    1. At the price point, no. Not for me.

      What’s funny thought is that it WILL be a surprise to all those who find one under their tree during the holiday, and then compare it to a friend’s iPad. Hahahahaha they will have tech regret faster than you can say “Santa”

      1. The returns alone will = gasoline on the fire. You might as well go to the ATM get two Benjamins and take a bic to em and call it good. Seriously. Stupid is as stupid does.

  2. Dude, could you be a little more biased? I love Apple too but this is extreme bias and false reporting. Tim Stevens recommends the Kindle and ends the review with this:

    “The Kindle Fire is quite an achievement at $200. It’s a perfectly usable tablet that feels good in the hand and has a respectably good looking display up front…in these carefree days of cloud-based apps ruling the world, increasingly all you need is a good browser. That the Fire has.”

    And the last paragraph,

    “So, the Kindle Fire is great value and perhaps the best, tightest integration of digital content acquisition into a mobile device that we’ve yet seen. Instead of having a standalone shopping app the entire tablet is a store — a 7-inch window sold at a cut-rate price through which users can look onto a sea of premium content. It isn’t a perfect experience, but if nothing else it’s a promising look into the future of retail commerce.”

    If that’s not an endorsement then I don’t know what is.

  3. “Other, bigger tablets do it better… “ WHAT! “Other”, “bigger”, “tablets“ are you talking about? THEY CALL THEM iPads! Can’t even type the word “iPad“. Is that one of those 4 letter words that some people find offensive?

  4. So when they use the plural “tablets,” as in, “When stacked up against other popular tablets,” or “Other, bigger tablets do it better,” I guess they’re referring to two specific tablets: the iPad and the iPad 2. Otherwise, the plural just doesn’t make any sense.

    While I am somewhat understanding that functionality is added along the way, when I read stuff like “needs polishing” and “third party apps don’t work well” and compare it to Apples iOS roadmap, I see the difference. Apple did not really foresee the popularity and profitability for 3rd party, native apps at first, opting instead for web apps. But they adapted and evolved.

    As to what Apple released, even though the iPhone hardware COULD run other apps, they only released (and announced/promised) the POLISHED functions of the phone. They didn’t say that it WOULD do this or that with future updates (run Flash; have a functional SD card slot), they only showcased, enabled and discussed polished functionality.

    The “easter egg” panorama camera function has not been discussed by Apple, nor enabled, because they are not yet pleased with it. But Android makers release devices, touting functions that are poorly implemented or “coming with a future update.” Buying one based on promises is like marrying an addict that will “get clean and sober with a future update.” Sometimes it works out and promises are kept, sometimes it doesn’t.

    1. Another thing to keep in mind, Apple released polished software when there was nothing really out there to compare to (lacking features is not necessarily unpolished in my opinion, unpolished is poor implementation of included features – like swiping between pages). Today, whatever comes out will have to compete with iOS and its 4 or so years of MORE POLISH and improved features, plus the ecosystem. That does make entering the game now a bit more difficult on one hand, but it also lets competitors know at least where the puck is, and where it has been. That’s a lot more info than Apple had. They had to envision the puck and then skate to where it would go once they created the game.

  5. Frankly, I’m tired of this lack of competitiveness from every other company that tries to bite Apple’ iPad share in vain. What’s it happening? Don’t they make prototypes? Don’t they use it and test it first and to be sure not to launch crap to market? Don’t they care about their brand reputation? Seeesh! What a waste of resources!!

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.