During the past few weeks, several well-known newspapers have presented articles predicting that the Amazon Kindle Fire is doomed to failure. Admittedly, some of the problems cited are in fact problematic for the smallish tablet computer. However, Amazon’s first major* fix should be coming soon and will, it is hoped, correct some of the bugs and gotchas that most of us have encountered. Some of the most notable issues include:
- The Carousel, which keeps track of your last used applications, is an annoying feature. This issue could easily be corrected by including an editing list for installed applications or an even better solution would be to allow the user the option of entirely deactivating the Carousel feature.
- Another annoyance is that the Kindle Fire is slow in response time compared to my Android phone. This is most likely due to its failure to respond to touch commands on the first try, resulting in the user being required to repeatedly press the icon in order to get the tablet to accept touch command input.
- The Android powered OS on the Fire is not as refined as the Apple iPad, therefore it doesn’t function as smoothly as the iOS on the iPad.
- Some users have complained that, similar to some cell phones, the on/off switch needs to be improved/moved due to its tendency to activate itself when bumped, placed inside a purse/pocket, or even when the device is laid down. This problem can, however, be eliminated by use of a protective gel cover. I have one for my Fire, which I purchased even before the unit arrived, and it prohibits the on/off switch from accidentally being bumped to the on position.
If one reads the glowing reviews and the high standard to which the Apple iPad is held, one would be hard-pressed to learn that this was not always the case. Back in April of 2010, when the first Apple iPad was released, the tablet was harshly criticized by many who claimed that it had multiple flaws that would result in its failure.
The first of these flaws was obviously the price. Who in their right mind would spend $499 for an Apple iPad tablet when they could buy a laptop computer that did so much more? The original Apple iPad had no HDMI connector, no external media slot, no camera, and no support for Flash. Yet in less than two years, Apple has sold 40 million Apple iPads. I believe that the Apple iPad drew on the previous success of the Apple iPod and iPhone models, causing one to conclude that the iPad was just a big iPod.
This is exactly how Amazon developed its Fire model. It took the expertise that the company developed from its popular Kindle models, which are such a huge success, and turned its attention to developing a tablet computer for the masses. This means that the Fire, like the original Kindle e-reader, must suffer some growing pains as it continues to develop the product into one that meets the criteria being demanded by the masses. The one thing that nobody can dispute is that, with this product, the bugs/annoyances are more small irritants than fatal flaws and can be easily corrected as Amazon develops corrective updates.
Despite these annoyances, however, and the uncertainty in the marketplace as to how many Amazon Kindle Fires have been sold, a recent press release from Amazon seems to have cleared up some previous conjecture. The statement by Amazon reads:
“Kindle Fire is the most successful product we’ve ever launched… it’s been the bestselling product across all of Amazon for 11 straight weeks, we’ve already sold millions of units, and we’re building millions more to meet the high demand.”
Additionally, I am also sure that there are some folks who have returned their Amazon Kindle Fires for a variety of reasons, but the same can be said for the Apple iPad. Upon what do I base this assumption? Here’s a link to the Apple iPad refurbished section at the Apple Store. Listed is a large selection of units/variations of units that Apple offers. Who do you think returned all of these units? Happy customers?
Up until about two weeks ago, Apple was still selling its original, refurbished iPad units. At that time I had written an article highly recommending these units to anyone looking to purchase an Apple iPad at a great price. I also mentioned that I had purchased one of these 16 GB Wi-Fi models for $349 last March and received free shipping.
My point is this. Most new products, no matter who produces the device (remember Apple and the antenna-gate iPhone problems?), may have minor issues. Second, you can’t rely solely on the reviews you read because, unfortunately, there are trolls in cyberspace who will write articles about a product whether they have actually used the product or not.
May I suggest that you make your own informed decision by visiting your nearest retail store that offers the device you are contemplating purchasing and trying it before you buy it? If that is not possible, due to your location, try to find someone you know who owns the product and use theirs first before deciding if the item is to your liking. Case in point: During a phone conversation, my daughter mentioned that my son-in-law was considering buying a Kindle Fire for his father for Christmas. I mentioned I had bought one and told them I would bring it with me when we visited them in Connecticut.
My daughter and son-in-law, who are already Apple fans (owning a MacBook, two iPads, and an iPhone), had reservations about any other type of device. Knowing that, I had reservations that either of them would consider a Kindle Fire as being an acceptable device, even as a present. Therefore, I was flabbergasted when they both stated they actually liked the Fire, mentioning how well it was made and how much they liked the Carousel feature. However, what really impressed them was the Dolphin HD browser, which I had installed to replace the Silk browser that comes standard with the Fire. Both mentioned that they liked the Dolphin HD browser even better than the Safari browser that comes with most Apple products.
These are my opinions and observations. Here’s Chris Pirillo’s take on the Kindle Fire.
Comments, as always, are welcome.
*Amazon has released two minor fixes, one of which was released before the Kindle Fire was delivered to consumers. I believe that the next fix will be a major update addressing some of the problems I described above.