Thoughts on Amazon’s Kindle Fire: You Get What You Pay For

The tablet market looks like it finally has some competition — or so it seems. With the announcement of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, due out sometime before the holiday shopping seasons starts, it appears that the iPad and Barnes & Noble’s NOOK are both going to be threatened by the new, low-priced tablet. At only $199, this 7″ tablet with a dual core processor looks enticing at first glance. But consumers should be wary that, like with all products and services, you get what you pay for.

Thoughts on Amazon's Kindle Fire: You Get What You Pay ForThe Amazon Kindle has a price point that is affordable for those considering a tablet. However, consumers should note what the Kindle Fire does not have: access to the Android Market (it’s stocked with the Amazon Marketplace), a camera (either front or rear facing), MicroSD slot, HDMI, GPS or 3G capability, and it only comes with 8 GB of storage. The Amazon Kindle Fire has no way to store much data, as it is designed to rely on the cloud. Will the average consumer be so savvy to utilize cloud storage? (Don’t believe me? Take a second and call your parents and ask them what they do in the cloud. Instead of talking about Amazon EC2 or even Dropbox, most will probably instead mistake your question for their “hobbies” in the ’60s and ’70s).

For consumers who are more concerned about basic functionality at an affordable price, the lack of features on Amazon’s Kindle Fire should be enough to force consumers to compare basic specs necessary for usability of a tablet. Without a camera, GPS, HDMI, or even MicroSD slot, the Kindle Fire is clearly not designed to create content, let alone share it with others. With the dual core processor you can more easily watch and listen to media, but not much else. You also don’t have access to the Android Market, which is essential for getting the most use out of an Android tablet. (Of course, you could root the Fire, as you can with the NOOK, and enjoy the full features of an Android OS, but most consumers would never do that.)

So what is $199 getting you? A Kindle with the ability to use the Internet and watch movies, basically. For much less you can get a fully functional Kindle, or for a little more — relative to what you’re already going to spend on the Kindle Fire — purchase an iPad with 3G capability, full access to music and apps in the iTunes store, a camera, GPS, Bluetooth, and a longer running time. For those looking to actually do something with a tablet — you really do get what you pay for.

There’s nothing wrong with choosing a tablet with minimalist functions. But for those looking to spend several hundred dollars on a tablet, consumers should consider what they actually hope to use a tablet for before dropping only the bare minimum for a Kindle Fire.

Would you buy Amazon’s Kindle Fire? Or will the lack of features force you to continue considering other options? Let us know in the comments.

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Kelly Clay, author of Blog Without Boundaries, is a freelance writer and lifestyle advisor.