Amazon announced its new lineup of Kindle Fire devices today at an event in California. The retail giant expanded its portfolio from a single Android tablet to an incredible four. Now that the excitement of the announcement has passed, it is time to take a step back from the hype and let you know what the team at IntoMobile thinks about tablets that Amazon just unveiled.
With hardware that rivals the Nexus 7 and a price that undercuts it by $50, Amazon has come close to becoming the retailer with “the best tablet at any price.” Price is only part of the equation, however, and Amazon also has a huge music, movie and book library that makes the Kindle Fire a superb device for content consumption.
Though I probably won’t buy one for my personal use, I will likely buy a Kindle Fire for my older children who are reading and listening to music. We already have one Kindle Fire and the parental controls on the device are fantastic. You can also buy content and share it across devices, so one book can be read by multiple children. Plus, at $159 for the regular version and $199 for the HD version, the price is just right for a family.
Amazon didn’t blow my socks off with its announcement today, but I still thought the company introduced some pretty compelling products to consumers. The company’s biggest move today was its proclamation of 8GB models being “dead on arrival.” It was a bold statement to Google, as it said: hey, we just killed your 8GB Nexus 7, so what are you going to do about it? I give Amazon credit for its bashfulness, but I still won’t be buying the Kindle Fire HD. I just didn’t see enough today that convinced me to sell my 16GB Nexus 7. Besides, I hate skinned devices, and Google’s Jelly Bean powered tablet topped off with smooth Project Butter does it for me.
Amazon’s new Kindle tablets are awesome for what they are: glorified content consumption devices. That said, I have no desire to limit myself to just Amazon’s ecosystem, especially when I can access Amazon content on my iPad or Nexus 7. Also, Amazon’s continued deep skinning of the Android operating system irks me perhaps more than it should. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the stock iOS and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on my iPad and Nexus 7 tablets, but I just don’t want custom skins, and the Kindle UI is one of the worst. Sure, it’ll sell like hotcakes, but I won’t be buying one.
Amazon’s new Kindles look pretty impressive. Many are going to compare them to the Nexus 7, but I think Amazon is clearly targeting Apple’s iPad here a bit more. Its weapon of choice? Pricing. It seems the strategy is to get potential iPad customers to realize that the Kindle Fires are perfectly worthy tablets capable of storing your content like books and apps, letting you purchase new content, and functioning as a trimmed down portable computer — and it does all that with pricing far cheaper than the iPad’s tiers. A lot of the complaints revolving around the previous-generation Kindle Fires were over sluggish performance, so hopefully Amazon learned the lessons necessary to create higher quality products that people will love, just like people love the iPad. As for the Nexus 7, buying will have to come down to personal preference; i.e. whether you want a tradition Android experience or if you’d rather jump in to the Amazon ecosystem.