Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Before You Buy a Kindle Fire

Amazon's announcement today of the color Kindle Fire was met with excitement by many. And when Jeff Bezos, president of, announced the price would be only $199, the buzz shot through the web in hours. But, is the Kindle Fire for you?

Before you buy a Fire, it's a good idea to realize the new color Kindle is a media tablet, not a productivity table. The Fire is designed to read books and magazines, watch movies and TV Programs, listen to music and audio books, play games, and search the Web*. The Fire also has an e-mail client that allows you to use the most common e-mail service.

But, the Kindle Fire is very limited in many ways. The internal storage on the device is only 8 Gbs. According to that is enough space for 80 apps plus 10 movies OR 800 songs OR 6000 books. But, you might find that storage space shrinks quickly when you mix movies, books/magazines, music and the extra apps you want. does offer free storage space on the Amazon Cloud for storing your Amazon media. Of course you must have a Wi-Fi connection for this, the Fire has no 3G connectivity. (It is unclear at this time whether Amazon will allow users to store their non-Amazon files on the Amazon Cloud).

Productivity on the Fire is limited. While you can read documents (Word, PDF and text) on the color Kindle, you can not create or edit these files. (To get the documents on the Kindle Fire, you must e-mail them to your Kindle account on the device). The Fire will not read spreadsheet or presentation files - like Excel and PowerPoint. And of course, when you download these documents, you are taking up the preciously limited 8 Gbs of storage space... forget some of those songs, movies and books you wanted to keep loaded.

Communications and creativity are also limited. The Kindle Fire does not include messaging, chat or video applications. And it is not a media creation device – it just does not have the applications or the hardware for this. And, although it is based on the Android operating system, it may not support many of the applications written for Android. This is because the device runs a branched, private version of Android created by

And finally, the Kindle Fire has no expansion or transfer capabilities. There are no card slots, no USB ports, no connections for the computer. If you can't get it from the Amazon Cloud or e-mail it to yourself, you can't have it on your new Kindle.

So, is the Kindle Fire for you? Well, it is no iPad-killer. If you are looking for a productivity tablet, look at the iPad, the HP TouchPad or an Android 3.x tablet. But, the Fire is a great media tablet – it fills that niche very well. And I'm sure it will be successful for (I'm still planning to buy one). If a media tablet is what you want, the Fire is a good choice.

*The browser on the Kindle Fire is not a true browser. The pages are rendered on Amazon's Cloud and sent to the device. This is supposed to make the browser very fast. But, there are security issues. It is not known how this will work for secure websites used for banking, to pay bills, etc.