Amazon's Kindle Fire Is Just the Cheap Tablet You'll Want

With that price tag, it's easy to overlook the tablet's shortcomings

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As anticipated, Amazon revealed its very own tablet today, and as we reported, at least on price, the $199 Kindle Fire will challenge the pricey leader in the market, Apple's iPad . Before Amazon made its official announcement, we figured Amazon would have a pretty good offering, but nothing you'd want for Christmas. But given the cheapo price tag, you might overlook some of the downfalls for this pretty solid gadget.

The Kindle Fire lacks some of the nice touches that the iPad has, thinks Wired's Steven Levy.

 As with the Kindle, the Fire is not a shiny trigger for technolust. And it lacks some of the features of the iPad and other tablets. No camera. No GPS. Not even 3G. And only 8 gigabytes of storage.

TechCrunch's Matt Burns finds the look unimpressive.

The Fire itself is rather characterless and dull. It looks a lot like the 7-inch BlackBerry PlayBook (probably for good reason) and features just enough tech to pass as acceptable. 

It's smaller and lighter, which The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal appreciates.

The iPad weighs 21.6 ounces. The Kindle fire weighs 14.6 ounces. It doesn't seem like a lot, but when you're reading with one hand. those 7 ounces are big. Put it this way: the iPad is the weight of a sizeable hardcover book while the Kindle Fire is the weight of a paperback. Which do you like to carry around more? 

And it's not really about the device, it's about the offerings: Amazon Prime subscribers can stream all of Amazon's offerings for free, which Gizmodo's Sam Biddle thinks is a good deal.

A $200 tablet with unlimited streaming from a huge library is... awesome? Yes, awesome. 

Content is king, agrees Technology Review's Erica Naone.

The Kindle Fire is the tablet you need at the price you'll be willing to pay,The $199 device comes packed with content and features that are arguably better than what's available on the iPad, and at a fraction of the price. Wow.

Kindle Fire also makes buying that content easy, adds TechCrunch's Erick Shonfeld.

The Fire has a good chance at being the best Android-based tablet out of the gate. Not just because of the fine-tuned software, but because of all the media you can get on it. Of course, it makes it really easy to buy all of that media from Amazon.

Amazon's in house browser "Silk" works pretty well, too. Businessweek's Brad Stone calls it "lightning fast"

Kindle Fire's free cloud based storage one-ups Apple, reports Bits Blogs Jenna Wortham.

The Kindle Fire includes a free cloud-based storage system, meaning that no syncing with cables is necessary. Mr. Bezos seemed to take a swipe at Apple, saying, "That model that you are responsible for backing up your own content is a broken model."

Amazon's going to kill it at this price, thinks Wired's Tim Carmody.

With Amazon’s new $79 Kindle, $99 Kindle Touch, $149 Kindle Touch 3G, and $199 Kindle Fire, Amazon dynamites that levee. The devices aren’t free, but they’re so much cheaper than comparable products on the market that they will likely sell millions of copies and many more millions of books, television shows, movies, music and apps.

The digital divide between haves and have-nots just potentially got a lot smaller.

But Amazon's strength is also its weakness, believes Fast Company's Kit Eaton

This is to the user's benefit of course, because as a result Amazon has attained the same kind of slick performance that comes from a controlled, polished, optimized hardware-software synergy that Apple manages in the iPhone and iPad. It's also to Amazon's benefit, because this tightly-managed UI really constrains you to only supping content directly from Amazon's pipelines, be it for music, video, apps or even web browsing (which happens partly on Amazon's cloud computers thanks to the Opera-like Silk browser, mainly because it has to work like this on the limited hardware inside the Fire).

And this optimization is the Fire's strength: A tight system that borrows liberally from Apple's thinking and design-engineering expertise, at a market-shattering $200 price point that'll let Amazon make much more money by streaming books and music to buyers over the coming years. But it's also, as with any highly-constrained system, the Fire's weakness: It's no full-featured tablet, and if you're not interested in being bought into Amazon's ecosystem it's not much use to you. 

We'll be adding more reactions as they come in.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.