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back to article Amazon's Android-friendly Kindle Fire splutters

Amazon's new Kindle Fire is almost certain to be a financial success for Amazon, and may finally make a name for Google's Android in tablets. If only the success and acclaim were deserved. Amazon has done quite a bit to soften Android's rough edges, but in my experience it hasn't gone nearly far enough to rival the iPad for …

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You get what you pay for

With the exception of the ipod which is relatively cheap by Apple's standards, and the iPhone which is heavily subsidised by lengthy contracts from network operators, their other products are aiming at the wealthier sector. (And students who don't yet know that that 500 ipad on credit will eventually cost them 2 grand).

If you're after something that is cheap and does most of the things you need it to then a kindle is going to appeal to many people. Notice I said you're after and not you need... I am still waiting for a good argument as to why anyone actually NEEDS a tablet PC.

Which raises another issue, if you have a product that only appeals to people who want, rather thanm need it, you will always be targetting a high value customer with money to spend so reducing your prices and coming up with budget plans aren't destined to improve sales as you're trying to target a customer that doesn't have money to burn, with a product they don't need.

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Meh

RE:"You get what you pay for"

Indeed and as to your point concerning who Apple are marketing to a survey I read recently concerning the iPad in the US showed clearly that their main demographic is 20 - 30 something males in households with a joint income of over $100.00 per annum.

As far as this comment from the article goes

"but in my experience it hasn't gone nearly far enough to rival the iPad for elegance and polish."

However much he hedges that comment it is IMHO meaningless. The question is not whether the people who are Apple's marketing goal are going to stop buying iPads and buy the Fire instead (they most certainly *won't*) the question is what proportion of people *in general* coming into the market are going to regard the Fire at the price concerned as attractive. The Fire is only competing with the iPad in the sense of it being a content provider. I simply do not see the point in comparing the iPad (which is high end kit) as *hardware* with the Fire. The question is will enough customers find the experience attractive enough to make the KF a success. The author pays lip service to much of this but then hedges it about with caveats and comparisons that I feel simply are not relevant to the outcome. Comparing a high end tablet like the iPad with something like the Fire in hardware terms and the sophistication of the os ( iOS does not float my personal boat but I recognise that it is a mature os developed for a high-end device and cannot be compared to what Amazon have done in any meaningful sense.)

The only relevant judgement in this instance will be the Fire's first quarter sales figures.

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HP TouchPad

Gives the iPad the best run for it's money that I've seen. Of course, the $99 (or $149 for the 32GB version) price is below production cost. And good luck getting your hands on one at those prices now.

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Can I

take yours off you then :)

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Gimp

Fanbois R Us

You've left off the one thing that the fire has as an eReader and the older Kindles do not. Color.

You'll notice the difference the first time you download a fifty dollar text book ( snort, I'm looking at YOU!) and discover that the publisher has printed the book in light blue on a gray background for all the code examples. To their credit, Amazon did take the book back and refund my money. At that time even the PC version of the Kindle reader didn't support color.

Although much of my content is novels, I bought the Kindle to carry around computer texts. No matter how heavy they get, they will still be more portable than the two inch thick MySQL book. Windows books are often thicker and heavier. When they become obsolete, I can archive them or a simple delete will work - no hauling a hundred pounds of paper to the curb when a new OS comes out.

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FAIL

We seem to hearing this refrain remarkably often about anything Android - "It's crap, but it's cheap".

I'll be waiting for Windows 8 before I indulge in tablets, all the signs are it will be the iPad killer that Android can never be.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah but..

Better than hearing about the Apple phone, which is crap but expensive?

But go on Jim, you know you're itching to.. what is the What Mobile phone of 2011? You do like to mention it quite a lot....

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Trollface

Seriously?

"I'll be waiting for Windows 8 before I indulge in tablets, all the signs are it will be the iPad killer"

Waiter, a bottle of what he is drinking please!

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Windows

Seriously?

You want to drink bleach?!

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A big Amazon fan.....

but an even bigger Apple fan, I think.

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Terminator

I am not impressed with the iPad either...

For something so hyped I was really disappointed after using it.

It is just good for surfing the web, but any cheap Android-tablet does it too.

iOS is clunky and outdated in comparison to Android or Windows Phone. The coolest thing is the smart cover, but that's it...

Maybe I am no Apple-user anymore, but iPhone and iPad don't rock my world..

But I don't want to own an Android-Tablet either, because somehow i don't know what to do with it...

All the "modern" UIs are not cool and SciFi enough for me to live without a keyboard... ;-)

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JDX
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So "it's better than Android" but still crap?

That seems to be the gist of the article - smooths Androids rough edges but not as good as iPad. What did you expect precisely?

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Holmes

There's iOS ... and there's everything else.

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Anonymous Coward

I don't know...

...there are plent of other router and switch makers out there making better kit...

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FAIL

Wrong target audience!

This review is basically like a motoring review that says "This Ford Fiesta is far smaller than my Mercedes SLK and slower than my Ferrari. And look - there is only room for two full sets of golf clubs in the boot!".

It is not true to say "If someone wants an iPad, it appears they're still likely to buy one." because this review is written by someone that is not in a position to understand the concept of wanting something, but being unable to afford it. There are millions of us that would love an iPad, but can't justify spending our money on it. We may just stretch to a Kindle Fire though!

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Pint

PlayBook is essentially in the same price class

For those shopping around in the next few days...

The RIM PlayBook is constantly on sale for $300, oh, make that $200. And its form factor is similar, but with 16GB vice 8GB (at those price points just mentioned), comes with two cameras, GPS, an inaccessible compass, and a very similar lack of apps.

You're correct about one major point. At the $200 price point, it should sell even if it had nothing but a good browser and a few other apps (assuming good battery, pretty screen, capacitive multi-touch, etc.). It doesn't need to be an iPad when it only costs 40% of an iPad.

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Weird

I use the Kindle App on a Galaxy Tab every day and have none of the page turning lagginess referred to here. Seems odd that Amazon's own Tablet would have these issues.

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It doesn't ...

Neither my wife's Kindle Fire, nor my daughter's, nor my own exhibit the supposed "lagginess."

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Legacy?

If you think eInk Kindles are legacy, you're doing it wrong :)

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In what sense has the iPhone steadily ceded ground?

iPhone sales volumes have monotonically increased since its introduction. Android sales volumes have also monotonically increased, but much more quickly. Android has something like two and a half times as much share of the current smartphone market but, in terms of sales volume, not at the expense of the iPhone. I expect the same story to repeat in the tablet world, but probably with the Kindle Fire doing the work of all the Android mobiles added together.

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Tut tut....

Repeating the same reporting mistakes...

"In some cases, like Google's apps, Amazon appears to be deliberately excluding them."

Google apps aren't part of Android, they are something which Google "give" away with approved Android. Amazon's fork isn't approved by google (not using the Amazon market place is a good way to fail the approval) so as such, Google don't let you play with their toys.

The same happened with Cyanogenmod. Google issues a cease and desist and the google apps had to be removed from CM. They did however come to an arrangement, and the google apps are available as a separate download.

You can get the Google apps onto the fire, but you need to install them via the backdoor, and remember to install the google framework first or it'll all end in tears.

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Anonymous Coward

But at $199, will the masses notice?

I think you are doing 'the masses' a disservice here. If you look at the Amazon reviews, a growing number of 'the masses' are indeed noticing that the Kindle Fire is not really very good at anything, including being a Kindle.

There will be a lot of returns in the next month or so from people who thought they were buying a cut-down iPad. And a lot of new Apple customers as a result.

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... people who thought they were buying a cut-down iPad

... were misled by reviewers who failed to grasp that the Fire is in fact a Kindle, designed and marketed as a content delivery device, not as a laptop replacement.

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Know how you can tell an article is a hit job rather than a review?

You see comments such as "It's really a lot lighter than the iPad but it just SEEMS heavier."

Why does it "seem" heavier? Because of its CORNERS!

Hit job fail... LOL

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Devil

Everyone knows corners make things seem heavy. Canonballs have no corners and seem as light as a feather, whereas an intricate piece of origami can feel like it weighs far more, and it's all in the huge number of corners it has. Indeed, a piece of origami paper starts off with just four corners so doesn't feel too bad in the hand, but by the time you've made the "Cat-shags-dog-on-a-park-bench" it feels so monumentally heavy that you can hardly pick it up.

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He compounds the error by calling it a "weight issue", when it clearly isn't.

More likely, it's a litigation issue (i.e. it needs to be different from the iPad).

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regular droid book reading is smooth as silk (at least on my nexus s using moon reader or google books) I can only imagine that the issues you noted were caused by either the processor not being manly enough or the software being crap. not by the OS. tis amazons fault, not androids. play fair.

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Fecking Fandroids

Drinking so much kool aid from the chocolate factory that they dont even bother to read the article. At no point was it ever mentioned that it was anything to do with Android as an OS??

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FAIL

There's certainly a hint...

"Amazon has done quite a bit to soften Android's rough edges, but in my experience it hasn't gone nearly far enough to rival the iPad for elegance and polish."

There's an implication of accepted fact that Android has rough edges compared to iOS, which doesn't really seem like a fair review does it?

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whine whine

elReg could not be more anti-Apple if they tried ffs, and the point as you are well aware was not that they mentioned this, but that OP was saying that the article suggested that the reader problems were Android related, which the article doesn't.

Honestly the Fandroids are worse than the Fanbois..

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Well most of what you've written is speculative abuse with a hint of vitriol that has the air of being reserved for people who dare to have a different opinion to you, so I'll choose to ignore it and stick to the point.

The second time (in a very short article) the author states that Android isn't up to scratch, he follows the statement directly by saying "even" the reader software which should be spot on from Amazon isn't - hence implying the fault lies somewhere else. I took this to be a leading statement based on the norms and conventions of English.

You're right in the sense we have no way of knowing if he really intended this or he's just bad at writing, but his constant criticisms of Android throughout give the article a sub text, which the OP has latched on to.

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FAIL

The real problem of course are idiotic consumers.

They rarely look past the purchase price, which is why the Kindle sold, despite being another iTunes, with all the same lock-ins.

They will also buy the Kindle fire with it's intentionally neutered Android that forced owners to everything Amazon.. (hmm, sound slike iTunes again...)

The fact that everyone universally hates iTunes, and they only realize Kindle is more of the same when it's too late, idiotic consumers are really the ones to blame here...

Sure a small proportion of users will hack their devices and install proper Android, but the vast majority won't and suffer an 2nd class Android experience as a result.

You can bet that any other e-book systems like Google Books, Kobo, or music stores will be excluded from the Amazon experience...

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Not everyone hates iTunes.

I hate it. You hate it. The none techy amongst us don't hate it and like being inside a walled garden.

What's limiting and philosophically repugnant to the computerterati is comforting and welcome to most everyone else.

Sad but true.

I'm waiting for my £89 basic Kindle for Crimble. Wait, that should be their jingle.

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Stop

Just get a Kobo

Better hardware than the Kindle, a nice touchscreen option for £20 more.

better hardware, same pearl e-ink display and onboard wifi shop, however it's got 3m books (compared to Amazons 750k), and there is no walled garden in sight...

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Anonymous Coward

They don't hate it UNTIL...

it finally dawns on them what the walled garden means.... That all the music, movies, books, apps all have to be handed back if they ever want to leave that walled garden and move to a different handset/tablet/STB maker....

Then they understand that they are being held ransom to continue to buy Apple because of all their money that had already spent, and the more they spend, the bigger the lock in becomes.

Same problem with occur when Samsung and HTC are no longer forced by Microsoft to make WinPho7 phones and it's just Nokia making them, you are then tied into Nokia Corporation (a Microsoft division soon no doubt)

At least with Android, your apps can run on any other Android.

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FAIL

Re: They don't hate it UNTIL...

"...all the music, movies, books, apps all have to be handed back if they ever want to leave that walled garden and move to a different handset/tablet/STB maker...."

Excuse me...? ""Handed back"...?

Even if you uninstall iTunes, the "C:\Documents and Settings\*UserName*\My Documents\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\" folder ("/Users/*UserName*/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/", on OS X) and ALL of its contents is still there on your hard drive, so I'm not sure what you're trying to say here, unless you're just going for a FUD attack and hoping no one will notice.

"At least with Android, your apps can run on any other Android."

The same, of course, is true of any other platform -- AS LONG AS YOU STAY WITHIN THAT PLATFORM: "At least with Windows, your apps can run on any other Windows.", "At least with CP/M, your apps can run on any other CP/M.", etc. But your claim above is that, if you choose to switch from one platform to another platform, your apps no longer work.

Well, DUH!

Yes, if you switch platforms from iOS to Android, your apps no longer work. Oddly enough, the same thing happens if you switch from Android to WinPho, or WinPho to BlackBerry, or...

Well, you get the point, I trust; if you stay within any one platform, you keep your apps and if you don't, you don't.

You may not like Apple's products or policies, but taking as your argument something that happens when switching between ANY two platforms and claiming that it's particularly bad because Apple does it really DOESN'T help your argument.

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Oh, I'm sorry...

... is not being *allowed* to upgrade your own Android phone unless your operator and / or handset manufacturer deigns to offer the option now considered the new "open" then?

Also: iTunes hasn't had DRM on its music tracks for years now. I can play damned near any audio and video format I like on my iPad—streamed off my NAS drive without touching iTunes at all—so I don't know where your "walled garden" bollocks is coming from. There's is, quite literally, nothing you can do with your precious Android device that I cannot do with my iDevice.

I keep my music in iTunes, but I've never bothered buying videos from them. I've ripped all my old DVDs and shoved them onto my NAS box. I use "AirVideo" and "AirPlayer" (no relation), to play them back—yes, even MKV files play fine. For TV, I have the BBC iPlayer Global app, which gives me all the quality TV I could possibly want. (And a surprising amount of shit TV as well.)

And I didn't even have to jailbreak anything, or install some third-party ROM, or any similar techie bullshit.

Compare and contrast with my cousin's Vodafone Italia Android device (an HTC Forgettable or similar). He's had it for over a year now, on a 2-year contract. Guess how many updates to his OS he has been "allowed" to install. (Here's a clue: it's less than 1.)

So, which system was it that had the "walled garden" again?

(Yes, the App Store is curated, but this is true of most stores. Including Amazon's. A manufacturer can't just walk into a WH Smith's and demand his tat be sold on that shelf over there. I'd love to know why you don't mind that.)

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iTunes on Windows

You are not locked into Apple products. All of my songs that are on my iMac are still available for me on a Windows machine.

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Anonymous Coward

I like the iPad but...

... I just wish people would take a second and think carefully about the experience. I don't own one, but I did borrow one for a few weeks to learn about the UI. I'm an interaction designer and I have to say that where Apple has really succeeded is in pulling the wool over everyone's eyes. The interface is good (some would argue very good) but the lag is there in iOS just the same as in other OSs. It's not such a great piece of code that it works any faster than most other systems. What Apple have done is to limit the number of Apps that can run at the same time (I know they have background Apps now but they are not fully running in the background) and to add some really nice interface touches that give the appearance of something happening rather than leaving a laggy customer experience.

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WTF?

No, Apple GPU accelerate the entire GUI and contrary to what you say, it is optimised and very, very efficient. Google 'iPad 2 xoom benchmarks' for example..

Try an iPad2. I know you weren't using one, because if you were, what you said would be horseshit.

What exactly do you need running in the background constantly?

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FAIL

xoom, xoom...xoom

iPad...wasn't impressed to say the least. If it can't play something as simple as flash it's worthless. The specs on the Motorola Xoom are impressive and I picked mine up off newegg for $349+ free shipping and no tax. Try and top that overpriced Apple. The Xoom comes with 32GB with the option to add up to another 32GB thru a mini SD port.

Apple =

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FAIL

Flash is dead. Adobe have written it off themselves. Move on, nothing to see here...

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Devil

Strange...

I'm sure I remember a certain person writing an article here at El Reg about how Android needs to be forked. Now it's forked, and a person with a suspiciously similar name writes an article about how much it sucks.

This is your idea in action, Mr. Assay, with all the unavoidable consequences. Honestly, I am surprised that you're surprised.

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I am very impressed with my new Kindle Fire. It's lightweight, easy to use and has a great interface. I haven't had any x-ray scanning issues either and I do a lot of air travel. First thing I installed was the nook app for free Android (instructions at www.kindlemad.com through google).

It basically unlocks all the Android marketplace apps and unlocks the device. I'm very pleased with the device.

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I vote the article is replaced with that review, it's exactly what I wanted to know and expected to find out. The only thing missing: what's it like reading a book on it as compared to the Kindle?

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Eh?

For a comment on the Fire product, it's a bit strange that the iPad is mentioned more times in the article than the Kindle Fire itself is, yet the $499.99 (2.5 x) price for the iPad is never mentioned once.

Funny that.

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Good competitionf or the ipod touch if it had a camera.

I wouldn't consider replacing my iPad with a Kindle Fire, however I could see it replacing my iPod touch. For that however I'd want a camera.

Its not a feature I thought was important, but I've gotten used to doing my grocery list by using my iPod to scan bar codes, using it to take pictures of my checks so I can cash them online via my banks app, taking quick pictures and videos while I'm taking something complicated apart ....

Like my iPad, a camera on my mp3 player was something I didn't know I needed until I had one.

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Fan boys sit down...

One of the huge things that all of these failure review sites are leaving out is this is highly moddable. Non tech people are often deterred by the idea of hacking. With android it's often as easy as installing an app. Then you can install a full android operating system. Honeycomb will scream on this and eliminate the quarks that amazon has put in without hindering its e-reader abilities. No its not an ipad stop comparing it to one. It's a tablet for people that don't want to be dragged into the trendy apple world letting you buy their products and use them how they want you to. Install an app today without hacking your ipad that apple doesn't approve. Thought so... You can't. Complaining about performance? At least it gives you the option to try to use an app it's not suppose to.

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Anonymous Coward

Honeycomb??

Is this a joke, the reviewer, and various others have said that Amazons fork runs like a dog, why would this be improved by Honeycomb? Dont get me wrong I will buy one at this price, but I will accept it is a limited device.

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Terminator

Do a BattleStar Galactica and cut the corners off, even in Caprica their e-paper had no corners, obviously it is the way of the future....

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