The best new media product I’ve seen since the iPad is the Kindle Fire. This is not a typical tablet. Amazon’s Kindle Fire is a content delivery system.
It is inaccurate to compare this directly to the iPad, because the two devices are quite different and will naturally appeal to different kinds of users. Others will prognosticate about whether or not this is an “iPad killer” (which doesn’t exist) or an aggressive reaction to Apple and others, but Kindle Fire excels because it is an exceptionally well executed step forward in the marketplace, regardless of what the iPad or other devices have to offer. However much strategic maneuvering is going on behind the scenes, Fire succeeds because Amazon dedicated the resources and quality control necessary to release an exceptional product. As a result, Kindle doesn’t feel like a reactionary half-measure to compete with a market leader. With inherently strong features, design and total integration with the Amazon content market, Fire is a market leader.
Amazon has perfected the instant gratification of one-click purchasing and digital hosting for books, magazines and movies. Kindle Fire now completes the user experience with a near-perfect delivery device for all of the digital content Amazon offers. Say what you will about open vs closed ecosystems, when it comes to delivering an excellent user experience for content consumption, vertical integration equals quality control.
Browsers beware: the Amazon Silk browser still needs a lot of work. Silk simply cannot compete with Apple’s Safari browser for the iPad, or any other serious browser for that matter. I had trouble with some Flash video players, with layers and overlays, and even completing simple form fields with the typing interface. I’m sure the 2.0 version will improve, but browsers are not as simple as they seem and it appears that Amazon engineers face a steep learning curve.
Likewise the apps seem to be hit or miss, but they are really all just add-ons to begin with. The core of Kindle Fire is content delivery and it beats anything in the market for books and movies in a hand-held size.