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Kindle Fire - Not Bad for $199 - IT Watch Out!

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Editorial Director, Barry Gerber, offers an ongoing review of Amazon's Kindle.

This review will be ongoing over the next several days, meaning I'll be adding thoughts and images to it over time. Come back to check out the latest. Generally, these reviews get more negative as time passes and I live with a device for a while. We'll see what happens with the Kindle Fire.

Amazon's Kindle Fire landed on my desk this morning. I plugged it in and it's charging/downloading system updates right now. Amazingly, right off the bat, as soon as I connected to Wi-Fi and without my entering anything, the Fire managed to locate my Amazon account, register the device and started calling me by my full Amazon account name. Must have been something pre-set in the device.

This makes it very easy for me to buy, buy, buy content or use it for free through my Amazon Prime account. And, all my Kindle books just appeared.

Is this a corporate tablet? IT pros may not like it, but their users will and, as I note below, that's all that matters.

First Impressions

The box the Fire came in is pure Amazon. No Apple fanciness. Just a simple, but nicely designed strong cardboard Amazon box. In line with a minimalist approach to things, the box includes the Kindle, a battery charger and a small getting started card.

Touch is very nice. Simple, but nice. It feels a lot like the iPad.

I've been playing around with some of the cheap (around $100) Android tablets available on eBay and from other sources. I feared that the Fire would resemble these. No way. The Fire runs rings around them with it's responsive touch interface. No crummy styli required. Two finger zoom is great, working as well as it does on my iPad.

The 7-inch screen is sharp and very easy to read. The onscreen keyboard is easy to see and use. I am having no trouble accurately typing on it. The small size works better for me than I thought it would. The rubberized back makes it very easy to hold the Fire without it slipping out of my hands.

Navigation is also easy.

The home screen shows graphic images of your apps, books, video, etc. on a very iOS-like rotating screen. You can access new apps here and activate any app you've already opened. At the top of the home screen is a nav bar labeled Newsstand, Books, Music, Video, Docs, Apps and Web. Within each app, there's a little up arrow at the bottom of the screen that you touch to open a simple bar that lets you go to the Fire's home screen, go back a screen, bring up an apps' main menu and search, if that is appropriate for the app.

The Fire comes with a number of on-device apps including QuickOffice, Audible, Contacts, Email, Facebook, Gallery, IMDb, Pulse and Amazon Shop. These are displayed on the Apps Device tab. Perhaps QuickOffice is there just to say, "Hey, IT folks, the Fire isn't just a content consumption device."

Nicely, all of the Android apps I acquired through the Amazon Android Store are available for download onto the Fire. These are shown on the Apps Cloud tab.

I downloaded my favorite game, Angry Birds Seasons, from the Cloud. Frankly, it runs much better on the Fire than on my iPad 1. No birds flying through the air and stopping in mid flight while the CPU catches up. Again, the display is just fantastic. Very clear and sharp.

Web browsing is fast and easy. Does this thing really sell for only $199?

Just set up the email app that comes with the Fire. Wow! My email messages downloaded in seconds and attachments load quickly and accurately; in ways better than with the iPad. PowerPoint presentations and Word docs so far appear perfectly formatted and easy to read.

So, is the Kindle Fire going to take the business world by storm? I'll talk more about business uses later.

For now, let me simply say that your users are going to love this device and flock to it in great numbers at $199. They'll bring their Fires to work and they'll want to use them in the corporate environment to read email and maybe even to run corporate apps. So, IT isn't going to escape the Fire easily. On managing Android devices in the Enterprise see Lisa Pfifer's Managing Android Tablets, Smartphones.

Be sure to check out Wolfgang Gruener's take on the Fire on Tom's Hardware.

To Be Continued

Barry GerberBarry GerberBarry Gerber is Editorial Director for Bestofmedia USA, publisher of Tom’s IT Pro (TIP). He managed the Tom's Hardware site for several years, and oversaw creation of the site that is now Tom's Guide. Barry is the spiritual father of TIP, having devoted three years to its development. Barry spent many a happy year as in IT pro in finance, insurance, health and education. Also, he has written for a number of IT publications and published a number of IT related books.