The Amazon Kindle Fire has stirred up a lot of interest and supposedly a large number of pre-orders. It's no wonder, Amazon is a widely known, trusted brand and their 7" tablet undercuts all other high quality tablets in terms of pricing. At $199, it doesn't require the serious economic pondering that a $500 and up 10" tablet does, and then there's the promise of lots of content. The Fire lives up to that promise, with easy access (very easy, you know Amazon wants you to shop until your finger drops) to their huge selection of eBooks, 10,000 Amazon Prime videos, their 17 million MP3s
The Amazon Kindle Fire is available now, not just online at Amazon, but at many retailers in the US like Best Buy, Staples and Target. It's an Android 2.3 Gingerbread tablet in Amazon clothing, with a very attractive and easy to use skin that looks nothing like Android on your phone or tablet. Everything is presented using a bookshelf metaphor, even apps. Visual organization, never a strong point for Kindle products, is lacking; an annoyance for those who load 200 books. But the Kindle Fire has only 8 gigs of storage with 6 gigs available, so content loading will be a pick and choose sort of thing. Granted, you can fit a lot of books in Amazon format on the reader, but not too many feature length films plus hundreds of tunes.
That's where Amazon's cloud services come in. Anything you've purchased from Amazon lives on their servers and you can download it or stream it as long as you've got a WiFi connection (there's no 3G here). That's fine unless you're taking a vacation to the Andes and discover WiFi isn't easy to come by.
The tablet has a sharp, colorful and bright IPS display running at 1024 x 600 resolution. That's a fairly common resolution for 7" tablets, and at 169ppi, text looks sharp enough. For those who enjoy LCD-based reading, it makes for good reading. The Fire runs on a dual core 1GHz OMPAP CPU with 512 megs of RAM and it has a micro USB port if you wish to side-load your own content (.mobi books, MP3/M4A music and MPEG4 video). It uses the Amazon App Store for Android apps with several thousand popular titles, but there's no access to the Android Market with several hundred thousand titles. While the B&N Nook Color and new Nook Tablet are for tinkerers who might want to root their device to add full tablet functionality and apps from the Android Market, the Kindle Fire feels little more locked down in terms of UI but it should be emminently hackable since Amazon just released the source code. Let the custom ROMs begin! And yes, it's apparently easily rootable using SuperOneClick Root.
Here's our Kindle Fire video review. Our full written review will follow. Our Nook Tablet video review will be out later today.