The Kindle Fire: 'Finally… serious competition' for the iPad?

Amazon's new $199 tablet ships a day early, and reviewers are split on whether it lives up to the massive hype

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
(Image credit: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

The Kindle Fire is here. Ever since Amazon announced its $199 touchscreen tablet in September, the tech world has been awaiting the e-retailer's entry into the treacherous tablet market with an eager, vulture-like focus. On Monday, Amazon surprised customers by shipping the Kindle Fire a day early, and many critics have already taken it for a test drive. Is it good enough to compete with Apple's iPad?

It's imperfect — but still awesome: "The Fire doesn't feel like any other Android tablet — and that's a very, very good thing," says Sam Biddle at Gizmodo. Using it is delightfully simple. Instead of the iPad's emphasis on all those apps, the Fire is all about media consumption made easy. Sure, the Fire suffers awful lags at some points and isn't as "capable" as an iPad, but it's a fraction of the price and certainly "the best Android to date." Be afraid, Apple, because "the iPad finally has serious competition."

"Kindle Fire review: The iPad finally has serious competition"

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The Fire still needs a lot of work: "The Fire does not have anything like the polish or speed of an iPad," says David Pogue in The New York Times. Pages are slow to turn, taps on the touchscreen don't always register, and "animations are sluggish and jerky." The app selection is very limited, too. With its great price and Kindle-crossed-with-an-iPad-capabilities, "the Fire deserves to be a disruptive, gigantic force," but at this point, "it needs a lot more polish." Stay tuned for the next version.

"Fire aside, other Kindles also shine"

It's just another mediocre tablet: "The Fire isn't a dud," says Jon Phillips at Wired. But it's also not nearly as good as we'd hoped. The screen is too small. The browser performance is "crap." The magazine-reading experience is awkward and flawed. And it's lousy as a simple e-reader, since Fire doesn't have the easier-on-the-eyes e-ink screens of earlier Kindles. It's a "perfectly fine Android 2.3 app device" at a good price, but little more. Consumers would be wise to wait for the Kindle Fire 2 — or save up for an iPad.

"Is this really the tablet everyone's talking about?"

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