Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet is no Apple iPad — and it seems that most Fire owners are quite okay with that.
In a recent open thread on Mashable regarding the product’s recent troubles, freshly minted Kindle Fire owners shared their stories — and mostly, love — for what could end up being Amazon’s most successful gadget ever.
Many users did report frustration with the poorly placed power button, lack of volume-control buttons and too-small fonts for certain features, and a few even said they returned the device. However, time and time again, the majority noted how they paid just $199 and not the near $500 you’ll spend for an entry-level Apple iPad — and they declared themselves more than satisfied.
To date, Apple’s 9.7-inch tablet has been the industry-dominating device in the market, selling at least 40 million units over nearly two years. No other tablet, Android-based or otherwise, has come close – until now. The Kindle is, reportedly, selling extremely well. One analyst thinks it could sell 6 million units before the end of the year. Those are iPad-esque numbers.
Still, even as Amazon celebrated this success, there were naysayers. As I pointed out in my own review, this is clearly a 1.0 device, where the marriage between hardware and software is somewhat imperfect. I was unhappy with the power button, disliked the super-small fonts and ran into the same bugginess as others. Nielsen grabbed some consumers and showed the Fire to them, and they seemed unhappy too. What’s important, to note, though, is that those users didn’t choose the device and probably have not had the Amazon membership experience, which is key to the Kindle Fire’s appeal.
Amazon is promising a software update in a couple of weeks, which could address some of these issues.Though Amazon’s statement concerning the matter never directly addressed the complaints, its timing made clear that Amazon has heard the unhappy voices.
So Mashable took it to the people who did buy the Amazon Kindle Fire. They likely chose it over an iPad or Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet (another Android-based 7-inch tablet) and surely use it every day. What do they really think of Amazon’s 7-inch content consumption device?
Repeatedly, commenters outlined the very same problems found by me, Nielsen and others. Yet, they invariably came to the same conclusion: These are minor issues easily fixed with a software update, and the Kindle Fire’s a great bargain for $199.
Anthony Fontana listed almost every single Kindle Fire deficit: uncontrollable carousel, poor Amazon Prime movie selection, a sluggish OS, small text. However, he ends with this: “The good news: Most of the above can be fixed with software updates and adding better apps to the app store. …As for the 5″x7″ size, it’s the only quality of the Fire that’s perfect. I can’t wait for a 5×7 iPad!”
PMarks loves his Kindle Fire and added this insight, “Nielsen’s ‘usability’ criticism is especially misleading: It really applies to 7″ tablets in general, not the Fire in particular.“
He also echoed a common theme: Kindle Fire’s price. PMarks called it “Dirt Cheap.” Dave Armstrong, for example, complained about the easy-to-hit on-off button, but still recommended, “Toss the Kindle in your pocket along with the 300-800 dollars you saved by not buying an iPad and off you go.”
BethReads wants Amazon to take care of “the annoying carousel issue,” but still sounds quite pleased with the device, and maybe a bit perplexed over the complaints, “It does what I needed to do, and if you paid $200 expecting an iPad, you deserve to be disappointed.”
A number of commenters extolled one of the Kindle Fire’s primary benefits: The Amazon ecosystem and the near frictionless environment for consuming content.
LoriFromPeru explained, “If I were using this as my main computer I might have different feelings but for a portal entertainment device that allows me to watch videos, read magazines and books and newspapers and do some light web surfing, it’s perfect.”
Code Honor recognized one of the other oft-repeated complaints: Lack of parental controls. It’s a valid concern for families. Digging in to the Kindle’s settings leads you to a Security dead end with no perceivable way of setting up parental controls. On the other hand, getting around this is fairly easy for Code, a single guy who says, “nobody else will be using my tablet.”
Some users have been concerned about one-click purchases and how easily family members can rack up significant Amazon bills. Still, I saw no complaints in our open thread about one-click buy. One savvy user, Nicholas Hooper, explained he disabled it by going into the Prime settings. He added, “Reading books is fine and I enjoy listening to audio books on it before I go to sleep at night. Web browsing is not lightning quick but it’s usable and streaming movies from Netflix or Prime look beautiful. So far it is worth every penny of the $199 price tag.”
If these comments are any barometer, then Amazon has little to worry about. The software update should arrive within two weeks and will likely make the Kindle Fire less buggy and a bit more useable. It won’t correct the hardware issues like that annoying power button or a lack of physical volume control, but that’s what we can expect from the Amazon Kindle Fire 2, right?