PCWorld reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Flawed, unimpressive, subpar; can’t hold a candle to iPad

“All eyes are on the Amazon Kindle Fire to provide fresh competition for Apple’s iPad 2, today’s dominant tablet,” Melissa J. Perenson reports for PCWorld. “Not so fast: Beneath the Kindle Fire’s slick veneer and unparalleled shopping integration lies a tablet that fails to impress as either a tablet or as an e-reader.”

“The Kindle Fire ($200 as of November 15, 2011) is best considered a relatively inexpensive, hassle-free but flawed way to consume books, music, and videos purchased at Amazon,” Perenson reports. “As a tablet, though, the Fire can’t hold a candle to the best tablets available today: It has subpar specs, a limited interface, and a surprisingly messy app store.”

“Amazon’s Appstore was disappointing, and my experience with apps as a whole weighed down my impression of the Kindle Fire as a tablet,” Perenson reports. “For one thing, most of the apps I downloaded ended up looking as if they were phone apps blown out to fit the big screen. This a problem for any Android 2.2 or 2.3 tablet, which is why we don’t recommend such tablets at this point… My random downloads produced apps with fuzzy, phone-ready graphics and menu design, and my searches revealed apps that won’t even work right on the Kindle Fire because it lacks the necessary hardware. Even Angry Birds wasn’t ready for prime time here — two versions of Angry Birds launched upside down, depending on how I held the tablet. Oops.”

MacDailyNews Take: Xoon.

Perenson reports, “My streaming and downloaded Amazon Instant Videos always looked soft, and often pixelated. Text was soft, too, in the Newsstand and in books at some font and text combinations… Even audio playback was wonky… For me, those trade-offs are simply not worthwhile, even to save a few bucks. What’s the point of being able to procure video easily, if my videos are going to be soft, have artifacts, and not sound great?”

MacDailyNews Take: There is no point. Luckily for Amazon, the world is packed with idiots.

“It lagged on transitions, even simple ones such as turning book pages or rotating orientation; it also produced jerky animations and repeatedly generated pixelated video playback,” Perenson reports. “In my trials, I became all too familiar with the spinning-ball wait indicator that appeared as something loaded, and I felt as if I paid with my time what I saved in money on the Fire’s modest price… The Fire falls far short of providing a full and satisfying tablet experience.”

Read more in the full review here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yet another lovely review for Amazon’s slab o’ crap.

Related articles:
Mossberg reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Frustrating, clunky, much less capable and versatile than iPad – November 16, 2011
Apple iPad 2 vs. Amazon Kindle Fire: Bootup, browsing, and Netflix streaming (with video) – November 16, 2011
Wired reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Web browsing sucks, emotionally draining, makes reading a chore – November 14, 2011
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

36 Comments

    1. iLounge & ZDNet gave it positive reviews with ZDNet even proclaiming “Wow!” and the fact the reviewer wasn’t having some of these problems other reviewers were having (yeah, right) to criticize it over. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before this bag of hurt on people’s doorstep is lit on fire and they try to kick it away.

      1. Big surprise, the ZDNet article was written by resident fandroid Ed Burnett. Consider that he’s the hack that wrote the article claiming that iOS 5 did nothing more than copy Android.

  1. I can buy two for the price of an iPad, put them side by side and get just as much screen real estate as an iPad or strap them to my ears and get true STEREO without expensive headphones.

  2. But you know what, in spite of the damning reviews from the tech media, the Fire is going to sell like hotcakes, just like the first Kindle. Why? Because buyers of the Kindle could care less about the tech media, they don’t even read the tech media. And the new Fire owners are going to love their ereaders, oblivious to what the MDNs of the world say. Why? Because MDN and the tech media don’t *read* books, they’re only interested in the Fire as a “tablet”, i.e., a multimedia *app* device. The Fire is a slick color-version of an ereader, nothing more nothing less. For this purpose it’s an excellent device and will sell millions to happy Amazon customers. Amazon has never called their Fire a “tablet”, just check their Website. This is all a fantasy spun out of the heads of the tech media.

    1. I think you’re trying too hard – your argument can be made far more simply.

      Today, there are unfortunately many many people content to buy crappy, low-priced Windows PCs. Those same people will likewise be content to buy crappy, low-priced Kindle Fires.

      That’s really the only argument you need to make.

      1. You got it. In the day, a complete shitbox called the Chevrolet Chevette was the best-selling car in its class. Smart shoppers bought the Honda Civic, far and away the best design. The comparison to Apple and its would-be competitors is apt.

    2. according to most reviews: WSJ, NYT, wired etc.. the Fire is a stuttering pain as a magazine reader or web browser (both of which need color)

      (Wired: “The Fire doesn’t offer a comfortable magazine reading experience… The screen isn’t adequately proportioned for magazine content.. 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”)

      so if I’m left with B&W books why don’t I just buy the cheap B&W Kindle with the easy on the eyes e-ink?

    3. The Kindle Fire owners will be content with their puchasers until they try to tell a friend/family member,with an iPad why the Fire is so great. Give it a year and many of those, who can afford it, will buy iPads.

      By that time word will get out to the general public, about the limitations of the fire.

    4. Amazon has never called their Fire a “tablet”

      *DING* The Fire was never meant to compete with the iPad. They are NOT in the same consumer niche. It doesn’t matter how well the Amazon Fire sells! Buy one! Enjoy! It’s NOT an iPad!

      The clue: There is NO competition between the iPad and the Fire. There IS competition between the Fire and the Nook! Get the clue yet kids?

      In fact, there continues to be NO COMPETITION AT ALL with the iPad, a most despicable situation. Will there EVER be an iPad competitor? I’m starting to wonder… 😕

    5. The original Kindle sold so “well” that Amazon decided to keep its sales numbers a secret.

      Does that sound like a hot product to you?

      “Because buyers of the Kindle could care less about the tech media”

      True, but I bet they’ll care about the Fire being yet another crappy Android tablet. You know, like all the others they’ve been rejecting.

      “And the new Fire owners are going to love their ereaders”

      Pretty much all the tech reviewers have said it’s poor for reading, so no, new Fire owners probably aren’t going to love it.

      “Fire is a slick color-version of an ereader”

      Uh, you might want to tell Amazon that. Because they think it’s supposed to be much more than a slick colour e-reader(although it would still fail as one – it’s neither slick nor a good e-reader, though at least it doesn’t mess up at being in colour. That counts for something, right?).

      “For this purpose it’s an excellent device”

      Not according to nearly tech every reviewer. But they don’t even *read* books so what do they know, amirite?

      “will sell millions to happy Amazon customers”

      Well, the sales numbers will probably be withheld so you can at least pretend it’s selling millions.

      “Amazon has never called their Fire a “tablet””

      http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Fire-Amazon-Tablet/dp/B0051VVOB

      See that? It’s a link to Amazon’s official product page for the Fire. See the word “Tablet” in there? Yeah. Then the page’s title calls it even MORE than a tablet. And Amazon compares it to the iPad.

      That Amazon has never called it a “tablet” and it’s just supposed to be a humble e-reader is a fantasy spun out of the head of a moron.

    6. Did you miss the bit where it was criticised as an ereader because text rendered poorly at various sizes. That would be an absolute deal breaker for me, as I read a lot, and I have several hundred books on my phone. I have no issues reading for extended periods on my iPhone, because text is sharp and clear even at small sizes, like on here, which is about 8pt, and just as sharp as a printed page. I think a lot of people, once they get over their initial excitement will become very disillusioned with the Fire as an ereader.

  3. “As a tablet, though, the Fire can’t hold a candle to the best tablets available today…”

    Oops, another fuckup in the attempt to appear “unbiased.”

    There are no “best tablets” available today. There is no “tablet market.” There is the iPad, and the iPad market.

    1. Well, there is the iPad and the iPad 2. They’re both better then the Fire. So it’s true. Fire can’t hold a candle to the best tablets available today…the iPad 1 and iPad 2.

  4. Apple always tries to give the best user experience at a reasonable price.

    But if knocking the price down results in shoddy user experience it avoids it. Apple knows once you lose customer respect making shoddy products you pay for it and Apple is in it for the long term .

    There have been hicups along the way but generally that’s their strategy and this strategy has made it the largest and probably most profitable consumer tech company in the world.

    amazon made 63 million in net profit last quarter, Apple 6.6 Billion. Amazon also announced that this quarter they might make 250m or LOSE 200 m ( if Fire doesn’t cause an explosion of media sales. – Fire hardware itself is not profitable ).

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