UPDATE: See my “Second Look Review” after 3 weeks with my Kindle Fire.
I received my Amazon Kindle Fire today and wanted to do a quick “first look” kind of review on it. I’ve read a lot of the reviews that came out yesterday from folks who had the device in their hands before any of us. To be honest, I was a little worried about my sight-unseen pre-order after reading many of those reviews. I actually logged into my Amazon account multiple times, debating whether or not I should cancel the order. At one point, I got an email saying that the case I ordered was already being shipped, so I decided there was no turning back now. Did I make a good purchase? Or, did I get bit? Find out after the break!
Packaging. My first impression was that packaging was weird. It’s the size you’d expect from such a device, but one edge has this weird bevel on it. It had a pull-tab with a perforated strip that opened the box. Nothing wrong with that, but it seemed weird. At first I thought the packaging was a bit large for such a small and svelte device (yes, it is indeed pretty svelte). But, since this box is also the shipping package, the extra room is warranted. Inside, there was a charger, a very sparse “getting started card,” and the device itself. About the charger – the Micro B cable is permanently attached to the charger. So, If you want to charge the Fire on your PC, you’ll need to buy a Micro B male to standard USB male cable.
Look and Feel. The photos on the Amazon Fire page perfectly describe the look of the device, so I’ll defer to Amazon for the looks. As far as the feel goes: wow. It feels very substantial and robust. It does not feel cheap at all – it feels like a $500 device, not a $200 device. Seriously, it has a very “meaty” feel. It might be a tad heavier than I think it should be. I have not spent a lot of time reading with it, so we’ll have to wait and see. It’s even heavier feeling once I put it in the Marware Leather Case that I got for it. Now, I am not saying it’s cumbersome – but it feels substantial.
Webpage Responsiveness. In terms of webpage speed, I have seen some side-by-side comparison videos of website load speeds, showing the Kindle Fire lagging behind the iPad. I have not tested it side by side. But, in actually using the device, websites do not seem hindered at all. While, I don’t feel the snappiness that I hoped the Silk browser tech would bring, web pages seem to load just fine.
Interface Responsiveness. OK, so here is where “svelte” comes in. The reviews had me most worried in this area. Many reviews said the Fire was sluggish. They are absolutely wrong here. It is really snappy – in fact, in some ways it is too responsive, like when swiping through the “coverflow-like” areas. You can pass right by the item you want, and sometimes making it stop where you want requires an extra steady hand. What this tells me is that the device has plenty of power, but doesn’t have the inertia system nailed down as expertly as with the iPad. Now, I must admit that sometimes it did not recognize an item tap as soon as I tapped, and a second tap was required – but not to the extent that it was annoying.
Video Performance. Again, wow. Video pops on this device. The colors are rich, and the image is crisp. There was no lag at all, even when streaming. Something about the iPad that would irritate immensely was the iPad’s laggy and skippy YouTube. Viewing videos on the Fire from YouTube.com was flawless – no skips, even while downloading the video you’re watching. Impressive.
Pictures. I was a bit disappointed that I could not access the photos that I uploaded to Amazon Cloud via the Fire’s internal Gallery app. But, once I connected the Fire to my computer via USB, I was able to drag some photos over, making them visible in the gallery. The gallery app is very nice, allowing you to view you photos in a way reminiscent of the iPad (snicker).
Music. I have not yet downloaded any music to the device, but streaming from Amazon’s Cloud Player is flawless.
Conclusions. Now, granted, this is day-one, but I am very pleased so far. I am not at all disappointed in the performance of this $200 device. Nice work, Amazon!