Since the release of Apple’s first iPad, competitors have been trying to duplicate its features in a less expensive tablet. No one has succeeded. Now Amazon has released the Amazon Kindle Fire – a tablet that takes a new approach. Amazon didn’t try to match the features or even the size of the iPad. They simply tried to create a new tablet that can provide Web surfing, email, and a wealth of entertainment options at an affordable price. We took a close look at the Fire to see if Amazon’s new approach created a worthwhile device.
The Kindle Fire comes in a non-descript cardboard box, as shown in Figure 1.
The box is actually a bit oversized, given the size of the contents, which are shown in Figure 2. These include the Fire itself, a Getting Started leaflet and a micro-USB power cable for charging. This power adapter supports 100 V to 240 V.
Thankfully, the box comes with a tear strip on the top so it is easy to open. There is no USB cable for connecting the Fire to a computer, although you can do so. We suppose that Amazon’s reasoning was that most users will never need to hook up the Fire to the computer, since, unlike some other tablets, all the important content can be downloaded online.
Amazon took a page from Apple’s playbook, making this a simple, solid device. It is even simpler than the iPad since there is not a single button on the front. Because it has only a 7-inch screen, the Fire at 7.5 x 4.7 x .47 inches (190 x 120 x 11.4 mm) is much smaller than tablets that boast a 10-inch screen. In fact, the Fire is much smaller than the iPad. Figure 3 shows the Fire next to the iPad with the Fire on the left and the iPad1 on the right. Its diminutive size is a big plus when carrying the tablet, but it is a bit of a minus when viewing Web pages and video.
The Fire weighs in at 14.6 ounces (413 grams). This is rather heavy for such a small device, but it is still easy to hold and feels good in the hand. Actually, its extra heft adds to the quality feel of the construction.