Amazon Kindle Fire User Review: This Is the Cloud I Wanted
I’ve had just about a week now with my Amazon Kindle Fire, the e-retail giant’s first foray into the tablet market. And while it is and remains primarily a consumer-focused device, it definitely has some enterprise game. But more than that, the Kindle Fire represents exactly the kind of device-cloud relationship I’ve been looking for. Long story short, I like it a lot, as much for what it is as for what it could be.
The hardware is almost irrelevant: My colleague Dave Courbanou over at our sister site The VAR Guy tried to convince me to cancel my pre-order of the Kindle Fire after early reviews from dyed-in-the-wool hardware enthusiasts indicated that it’s lacking in performance compared to, say, the Apple iPad. All I have to say to that is “feh.”
I won’t go into too much depth on the hardware side — this is TalkinCloud, after all, and there are plenty of places out there on the web to satisfy your need for the minutiae of the Fire’s benchmarks and technical specs. But what I can say is that in the course of my normal, everyday usage, I found the overall experience snappy, responsive and generally pleasant. I did have a few problems with the interface, mostly with detecting long taps vs. short ones, but generally speaking I haven’t found too much else to complain about.
But the cloud component is where it gets interesting: Sure, Apple has iCloud and Google has Google Music. But I’ve yet to find a device that has the cloud as baked into its every molecule as the Amazon Kindle Fire. The main screen is a scrolling Cover Flow-style list of every piece of Kindle content you own, whether it’s on the device or not. If it’s not on the device, a single click gets it downloading.
Similarly, when you go to your Apps folder, you’re faced with two tabs: “Device” and “Cloud.” Anything not on your device is only ever a click away, with essentially no barrier between you and your app. The same holds true for documents, music, movies and periodicals. There’s basically no distinction made between stuff that’s on the device and stuff that’s on Amazon’s servers or in the Amazon Cloud Drive — which is why it only has 8 gigabytes of on-board memory.
Again, the hardware’s not perfect, and I have no doubt that within a year Amazon’s going to release a vastly improved version that’s going to make me feel silly for dropping $199 on a first-gen product. But its design philosophy around the relationship between cloud and client speaks to the future of both the consumer and enterprise clouds — which is to say the line is going to get increasingly blurry in ways that we can only begin to predict.
I also want to say a few words about its enterprise potential: Obviously, Microsoft partner Intermedia sees great potential for the Kindle Fire in the enterprise, as evidenced by the fact that it’s supporting hosted Microsoft Exchange on the tablet.
And the Amazon Appstore for Android (Amazon won’t allow the Android Market proper on the Kindle Fire — it clearly wants control over the whole ecosystem) includes Documents to Go and LogMeIn Ignition, key mobile productivity tools with the latter providing a ton of potential value for service providers. But overall, neither the app store nor the platform itself is as robust as the Apple iPad or Motorola Xoom, with Amazon’s efforts focusing squarely on consuming digital media, not getting stuff done.
I’m sure that I’ll have more to say than these scant 600 words going forward, so keep watching TalkinCloud for more.