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I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.

First Thoughts on the Kindle Fire

My perception of the tablet market has been that the iPad is king, but at a kingly price. If I was going to use it as a laptop replacement I’d consider spending the $500 or so, but short of that I’ve watching to see what would come along that would be cheaper, if perhaps not as good. I had looked at the Nook Color and thought it was reasonable in terms of price versus performance, just waiting to see what the holidays would bring as far as competitors and pricing.

The Kindle Fire definitely ignited a lot of talk and curiosity. At $199 it fell into the category of okay to impulse buy and not so expensive I’d cry if it was broken by my kids, so I bought one when it launched. After having it for a few weeks, I can say:

  • The form factor is good, I can hold with one hand easily enough
  • I wish the on/off button wasn’t on the bottom, occasionally I hit it by accident
  • I find the UI to be easy to use, with a strong emphasis on helping you do again whatever you’ve done recently
  • I like that the app store makes it easy to see free apps. I’m not opposed to paying, but it’s fun to just try things that you wouldn’t (even if it was only a $1)
  • Book reading is fine. Not as good as paper, but good enough
  • The music on the Amazon Cloud Drive works well,and there is an option to download to the device (not too thrilled about their privacy policy though – you don’t get much!)
  • I use it in the kitchen for online viewing of recipes
  • I wish it had a physical volume control
  • I haven’t see the warp speed I had hoped for with the Silk browser. Maybe I was expecting too much? Love the idea (again,privacy could be a worry).
  • My kids like the form factor better than the Droid X
  • The Amazon integration is very good (not unexpected, but still nice to see)

Right about the same time the Nook Color dropped to $199, so I bought one of those as well. I like the design, it feels comfortable to hold, but it felt a little less responsive. Kids didn’t like it as much, was harder to find the free apps, and they were already used to the way the Fire worked. The consensus was that for us the Fire worked better, so back the Nook went and we bought a second Fire. To be fair the Nook Tablet is probably closer to being a true competitor, but it seemed to have largely the same UI.

So far they get a fair amount of use. We keep one by the couch for the times we see something on TV that we want to look up, it’s quick and works ok if you don’t have to do a lot of typing. Kids use it for games and music more than reading, hoping that will change over time. I’m curious to see if they become valued tools or expensive paperweights. I’ve brought one with me on a short trip this week and used it for some reading, worked well until I wanted to read something I had not already downloaded to the device, no wi-fi available.

The true readers with e-ink have dropped below $100, the price point where they can become easy gifts and not an issue if lost. The question is, even at $79, will people want a dedicated reader or will they pay another $100 or so for a more versatile tool?


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