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A View from Erica Naone

First Impressions: Better than the iPad

Our first impression: It’s better than the iPad.

  • September 28, 2011

The Kindle Fire is the tablet you need at the price you’ll be willing to pay. The $199 device comes packed with content and features that are arguably better than what’s available on the iPad, and at a fraction of the price. Wow.

Crucially, Amazon’s powerful content library is already familiar and useful—many people already have dozens of Kindle books, for example. And Amazon has sneakily set its Prime members up with memberships that allow them to instantly stream thousands of movies and TV shows.

The device is light, can be held in one hand, and has a beautiful display. Not only that, Amazon built a special browser for it called Silk. Amazon is backing Silk with its Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure, meaning the device does almost none of the processing. The idea is so brilliant I can’t understand why no one tried it before*. Sites will load on Fire faster than they have on any other mobile device. Again, wow.

Key facts:

  • 7-inch multitouch color screen (1024 x 600 resolution at 169 ppi; 16 million colors).
  • Weighs 14.6 ounces.
  • WiFi only, no 3G.
  • Runs Android.
  • Up to eight hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback.
  • 8 GB of internal storage but free cloud storage for all Amazon content.
  • Browser includes Flash.
  • USB 2.0 connector.
  • Price: $199.

The Fire will ship November 15, and is available to preorder today.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s presentation pulled together so many disparate Amazon services to power the Fire that the company’s broad reach seems crazy like a fox. You could almost argue that Bezos has been building to this moment for years.

Apple headquarters must be in uproar now. Bezos just out-jobbed Steve Jobs, announcing a truly impressive device for a truly impressive price. To steal Jobs’s favorite word, I believe the Fire is actually going to be a “magical” experience for people. The Fire is the first competitor to set its own standard rather than play catch-up. The phrase iPad killer has been misused, until now.

* Thanks to @darrenwaters of the BBC for pointing out that Opera mini already has some similar features.

We’re at the launch of Fire now, so expect more coverage as the day progresses.

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