Wired reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Web browsing sucks, emotionally draining, makes reading a chore

“The Fire isn’t a dud, but its real-world performance and utility match neither the benchmarks of public expectation, nor the standards set by the world’s best tablets,” Jon Phillips reports for Wired. “The Fire’s 7-inch, 1024×600 screen is too small for many key tablet activities. The Fire’s processor, a 1GHz dual-core chip, appears all but insufficient for fluid, silky-smooth web browsing, an area where I found performance to be preternaturally slow. And unlike most of its tablet competitors, the Fire lacks a camera, 3G data connectivity, and a slot for removable storage.”

“Is it tablet that people will grab again and again for web browsing, book and magazine reading, casual gaming, and more? No. It’s not that kind of tablet,” Phillips reports. “The problem for Amazon, however, is that not all types of digital media sing on the Kindle Fire… The Fire doesn’t offer a comfortable magazine reading experience… The screen isn’t adequately proportioned for magazine content. Most real-world print magazines boast a per-page trim size in the neighborhood of 8.5×11 inches, and this doesn’t scale well to the Fire’s 3.5×6-inch screen. As a result, magazine pages — even when oriented one-up in portrait mode — are rendered illegibly small… Worse yet, the Fire’s processor appears ill-prepared to quickly redraw visually intense digital magazine pages. Swiping from page to page occurs in disorienting stutter-steps, making any semblance of ‘reading’ a chore.”

MacDailyNews Take: Amazon is peddling a device focused on reading that makes reading a chore. For the Fandroids, we repeat: Amazon is peddling a device focused on reading that makes reading a chore.

Phillips reports, “The Kindle’s 7-inch screen is still too small for any semblance of an immersive reading experience — even if that reading experience mostly involves looking at pictures… Total internal storage is only 8GB, and just 6GB of that is available for storing downloaded content. Yes, Fire owners are afforded unlimited Amazon Cloud storage for anything and everything they might buy via the Amazon store — that includes music, books, and, of course, video. But you can’t access the cloud if you’re not on Wi-Fi, as the Fire doesn’t include 3G support.”

“Besides poor load times, the Fire’s browser lurches in fits and starts when swiping through already loaded web pages. And sometimes the browser doesn’t react to touch gestures at all, requiring that oh-so-annoying second tap or swipe instead,” Phillips reports. “Pinching in and out of magnified views is also a test of one’s loyalty — this action looks like choppy stop-motion video on the Fire, whereas on the iPad 2, it’s fluid and seamless… Clearly something is amiss in Amazon’s tablet. It could be a shortcoming intrinsic to the core architecture of the Fire’s chip. It could be a software optimization issue. Regardless, the Fire’s web browsing experience is emotionally draining. It makes you work for your page view, and that’s a user-experience fail. What’s worse, even when your web page has loaded, it’s still too small to really appreciate on the 7-inch screen. Pretty much all text must be tapped into a magnified view, and that’s a telling indicator of why so many people avoided 7-inch tablets the first time they were floated to the public last year: They suck for web browsing. And that’s a problem because web browsing is a key tablet responsibility.”

MacDailyNews Take: Ouch. 🙂

Phillips reports, “If you already have $200 in your high-tech hardware slush fund, and you’re not willing to splurge one cent more, I suggest you wait longer before pulling the trigger on a tablet. Let that nest egg build. Let it grow interest. Wait for the Kindle Fire 2. Or — yes, I’m going to go there — consider an iPad. By the time iPad 3 comes out, Apple’s cheapest iPad 2 will almost certainly be even cheaper. And this could very well be the tablet for you: 9.7 inches of uncompromised screen real estate, a processor that rips through web pages like a chainsaw, and an app and digital content ecosystem that’s already commensurate to (if not better than; let’s be serious) anything Amazon offers. iPad killer? No, the Kindle Fire is not.”

There’s tons more in the full review here.

MacDailyNews Take: Well now, there’s a lovely review: “Consider an Apple iPad instead.”

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

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
NY Times’ Pogue reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Sluggish, ornery, unpolished – November 14, 2011
The Verge reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Uninspired, confusing, incredibly unoriginal – November 14, 2011
Engadget reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Sluggish, clunky, too limiting and restricted – 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

27 Comments

    1. I have the feeling Amazon’s fingers will be burnt by the Fire. Amazon is playing with Fire by trying to play dirty with prices against the iPads. The Fire will burn through Amazon’s margins and will cause Jeff Bozos a bundle of hurts.

  1. So, if you live in the USA, want to stream movies and TV shows at $2 to $4 a pop, buy and play music and send the odd e-mail over WiFi, $200 for a Fire is still too much.

    Hint, it will cost a lot less in Feb. / Mar.

  2. Although the reviews are mostly negative, I recall the same type of review about the original iPad. It was relegated to failure too but it succeeded beyond Apple’s expectations. I only hope people don’t get stung on this tablet.

    1. You must have fallen for a bullshit hit piece that had no basis in reality. Did you come to the realization that you are a blogger’s fantasy patsy target audience yet?

    2. You’ve gotten your history a little wrong. The iPad didn’t get negative reviews. It got negative press when it was first announced, before anyone used it. Once people used it, the iPad got amazing reviews.
      The Fire is just the opposite. Everyone was over the moon for the Fire before it was even released but now people are reviewing it and they realize it’s shit.
      The Press is funny that way. They hate Apple so anything that might be seen as an iDevice killer they love on principle alone.

  3. We all know that the Kindle Fire is no iPad, but any reviewer who faults the Kindle for not having a camera is an idiot, pure and simple. It’s a book and magazine reader, for Chrissakes!

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