The Verge reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Uninspired, confusing, incredibly unoriginal

“The design of the Kindle Fire is anything but inspired. It would be one thing if the device were simply a black rectangle with a high gloss screen (spoiler alert: it is). But what’s more striking about the device is just how identical it looks in comparison to a product we’ve seen before. Namely, the BlackBerry PlayBook. I can’t overstate how similar these two products seem. They are a similar size (their dimensions closely match), both feature a 1024 x 600, 7-inch display on the front and have a plastic, soft-touch casing on the sides and back, and both weigh 0.9 pounds,” Joshua Topolsky reports for The Verge. “It’s been speculated on (and more recently stated as fact by Barnes & Noble) that Amazon used the PlayBook reference design as the basis for the design of the Fire, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the design is necessarily bad — it’s just that it’s incredibly unoriginal.”

“I am confused about a number of decisions here, however. Unlike the PlayBook, iPad, or pretty much any other tablet on the market, the Fire has no hardware volume controls, meaning that you have to go through a series of taps (especially if the device is sleeping) to just change the volume. The Fire also has no ‘home’ button — simply a small, hard-to-find nub along the bottom used for sleeping and waking the device, and powering up and down. That means that Amazon had to create software navigation for getting around the tablet, which would be fine… if the home button wasn’t always disappearing into a hidden menu,” Topolsky reports. “Also, I found myself accidentally pressing the power button when I was typing or holding the tablet in certain positions, causing the Fire to think I wanted to shut it down. I’m not sure why it’s located where it’s located, but it seems like a poor choice to me.”

Topolsky reports, “One of the more annoying aspects of this screen is the sensitivity of the swiping area. It’s actually quite difficult to get the item you want to focus and stay still, and often a tap doesn’t register on those items. Furthermore, you can’t remove unwanted items from the list, so if you’ve visited a webpage or opened an app that you no longer want at the top of the list, you just have to wait for it to shuffle off of the front page of your device.”

Read more in the full article 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
Engadget reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Sluggish, clunky, too limiting and restricted – 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. I was actually thinking this would receive overwhelmingly positive reviews. I also still think that it will sell well because of the brand/hype and the price – at least at first.

  2. Again, Josh recommends the tablet. He ends the review with this:

    “Still, there’s no question that the Fire is a really terrific tablet for its price. The amount of content you have access to — and the ease of getting to that content — is notable to say the least. The device is decently designed, and the software — while lacking some polish — is still excellent compared to pretty much anything in this range (and that includes the Nook Color). It’s a well thought out tablet that can only get better as the company refines the software. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great start, and at $200, that may be all Amazon needs this holiday shopping season.”

    1. Is your boss going to give you a fat bonus for promoting this thing? You *do* work for Amazon, I take it? It the only reason I can think of for you keeping on boosting it on every thread it’s mentioned on.

  3. “One of the more annoying aspects of this screen is the sensitivity of the swiping area. It’s actually quite difficult to get the item you want to focus and stay still, and often a tap doesn’t register on those items.


    As Steve Jobs had said, you need to sandpaper your fingers if you want to work on a 7″ tablets. How prophetic was Jobs observation!

  4. Ok, so not only does this Fire SUCK BALLS… The master BOZO is selling this Sh-t @ a loss! And to ad insult to injury the ANAList have the NERVE to say Jeff Bozo is the next Steve Jobs!!!! Just UN Fcking BELEIVABLE!

    The newspaper cited an Associated Press report. Amazon reportedly is willing to sell units at a loss in an attempt to challenge Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPad.

    Snippet from the fool site….
    Fire away
    Let me make my prediction this time perfectly clear: Kindle Fire will be a huge hit. It may eat a little into Apple’s iPad 2 momentum, but ultimately this will be about opening the realm of tablets to a wider audience. The Fire is the Camry of tablets, and I mean that in the kindest way possible.

    Google’s Android has been a hard sell in tablets, but largely because the major brands in this space have chosen to tackle the iPad on spec sheets instead of price tags. Amazon gets it. Bezos has the digital-media ecosystem in place to take a hit on the hardware, making it a winner on the only two fronts that matter — content and price.

    I was wrong, Bezos. And the beauty of this digital age is that I don’t even need to physically eat my words.

    Full article at the Foolish site of ignoramus.

    1. This is the theme I’ve been reading all Sunday. They are really pumping this POS same old same old POS like its the newest thing ever! Killer iPad finally here… c’mon!

  5. I think the sweet spot for the iPod touch to get to is 7″. Portable enough to carry around with you most of the time, yet offering enough screen real estate to play games on. If Apple prices it at $249 or $299 with a core A5 chip, it’ll sell like hot cakes.

  6. Very selective in what you decide to quote, the review I read was quite positive about the kindle fire e.g.

    “Still, there’s no question that the Fire is a really terrific tablet for its price”

    Very misleading MDW

  7. Yeah but those are HIS complaints, that while some may agree, some may find it not as bothersome.

    Like me disagreeing with Obama calling Republicans in the House as “do nothing” Republicans, to which I would say, tell the Democrats in the Senate to put to a vote the 16 pieces of legislation passed by the “Do Nothing” House Republicans! What?! You scared they might pass on a bipartisan level in the Senate? And where’s the damn budget from the Democrats in the Senate? It’s been over 1000 days since one was to be presented! Talk about do nothing.

    But others would disagree with “my review” on things and others would agree with some of it, while others agree completely.

  8. Just another MicroShat/Wallyworld target demographic product. It’s good enough. It’s not good mind you. It’s good enough. Yes, we know it’s a POS. It will get better with updates. g’head. plunk down that hard earned cash.

    A fool and his money……….

  9. Remember, folks: The first Kindle had serious design flaws, too. But Amazon seemed to get it right on the second try, as long as reading books and newspapers was all you cared about. Who knows, this clumsy tablet may just be the 1.0 version of something better.


    1. Yes, but this is a product sold at a loss or break even. Is this the new business model for electronic devices? Sell it at a loss or break even to undercut your competition and through clever accounting, make it up in revenue for other items sold from your company?

      The message your giving is that your selling a device thats not good enough to stand on its own. Now companies that do not have ancillary product to do the same business model will lose big time. Even if their product is superior in every way. I hope this is not a trend in the future. Otherwise, real innovation will be lost.

      Kindle is not innovation, its disruptive to those companies trying to produce compelling and innovative products.

  10. I don’t understand why MDN keeps using the Jobs quote about 7 inch screens. If a 7 inch screen is unusable, then how do you justify the 3.5 inch screen on the iPod touch and iPhone? It is ¼ the area of a 7 inch screen. Have you had to sand down your fingers to use your iPhone? Jobs often said things to throw off the competition (like claiming Apple had no interest in making a phone). So don’t be surprised when Apple releases a 7 inch iPad mini. Will MDN trot out this lame quote again when that happens?

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