Amazon Fire Needs More Kindle-ing!

First Impressions of the new Amazon Kindle Fire

Kindle Fire

UPDATE: See my new article here.

I received the “Fire” last night and this is my first – quick – look at it. I will be posting a LOT more about it later but I wanted to get this out as soon as I could.

This is ANDROID!

The first thing that I want to say is that this is an Android device. It is not clear which version of Android is running since Amazon has adapted it a lot. However, there is a lot of “future” in any Android device that is not locked – and some users have already been able to “root” the device. Don’t be surprised if there is a custom Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) ROM available for this bad boy real soon!

The display is FINE!

The display literally pops out at you. And Amazon says that it has a covering that protects the screen from scratches and such. Nor does it smear as badly as some other tablets that I have used. Finally, without any additional screen protection, it does not have reflection issues & glare like others.

Here are some quick videos of the event:

The device is responsive!

The dual processor runs fast and is very responsive. There does not seem to be any delay and apps are fluid.

Problems:

  • The device does NOT include the Android Market – or any of the Google applications! This is a MAJOR problem. The GMail, Calendar, and Gallery apps are my most used. I like the voice-to-text and voice search. I will post more about this when I have answers. However, it appears that some users and developers have already overcome the issue.
  • The Fire is missing some hardware that I think it should have. There is no camera, no Bluetooth, no microphone and no external storage (SDCard). Also, there is no physical volume control and the onscreen control is not always visible.

Bottom Line:

I knew that the Fire would be proprietary (focused on Amazon) before I ordered it.  Although I generally avoid anything proprietary, I was confident that, as an Android device, the Fire would have support from the XDA developer community. That does appear to be reality and I have great expectations for what is coming out soon. So, my recommendation is that if you are considering the Fire, you might want to wait a few weeks to see whether Amazon adds some more hardware (or reduces the price).

But, the limited hardware may not be an issue when Google apps are available and all our music, photos, videos, etc are stored on in the cloud. However, at $200, the Fire is definitely a good deal!

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6 Responses to Amazon Fire Needs More Kindle-ing!

  1. Bought my wife a Kindle Fire for Christmas. Almost returned it when we found it had no access to the Android Market. But there is a (non-Root) work-around.

    I have ROMToolkit by JRummy (Android Market) on my EVO 4G. Within, you’ll find “App Manager” which will extract the .apk file(s) for any app(s) you select and store them for you in the AppManager directory. I can then create a library of .apk files, connect to my PC, upload and save.

    Then connect the Fire usb to the PC which automatically connects as a remote drive. Download .apk files to the Kindle Fire. One of the files you download should be a file manager, or “File Expert” is available free from the Amazon market. When you select any one of the .apk files using your file manager, you are asked if you would like to install it. Click “Install”. Occasionally, an app will not be compatible with the Fire, but most of the time the installation will succeed.

    • Ray Waldo says:

      Thanks for the ideas, Ernie! Please tell us more after you have had time to experiment with the Fire.
      My experience is that since Amazon redirects the calls to the Android Market (and changes your email logon from myname@gmail.com to myname@kindle.com), the Android Market cannot function correctly.
      Moving apk files to the device and installing them is better than not having the apps at all but… It will not work (in my experience) for PAID apps – which are the most important.
      I am not upset with Amazon – I like the company. I also believe that, in the near future, the XDA devs (and/or others) will be able to help us root the Fire and make it into a really nice Android tablet – at the right price point. But until then, it is a minor irritation to me.

  2. ificus613 says:

    So whats the verdict, after using the kindle fire and the GTab, which one do you find yourself using more? Haven’t heard much in a while, this is one of my most visited website.

    Nick
    http://reversephonenumberlocator.com/

    • Ray Waldo says:

      Thanks Nick! I do need to update this. However, there still not not a lot of activity yet with ROMs for the Fire. Also, I have been very busy of late – had extra work, had to make a couple trips, and had a lot of company in for the holiday, etc. It has definitely slowed my research and writing.
      The short answer to your question: I don’t use the Fire very much. I don’t like the Amazon UI. (I rooted it – which helps some but not much.) Also, they actively BLOCK the Android Market app so it is difficult to get my choice of apps on the device (and keep them going).
      Finally, the device lacks some really important hardware – bluetooth especially. Even a bluetooth keyboard will not work – and I don’t like the Amazon keyboard at all.
      I still believe that this device will be VERY popular. Estimates have it in toe-to-toe competition with the iPads. But, until custom Roms are available (and hopefully, they add bluetooth), I can’t use it much.
      So, my original verdict still stands: Anyone who has used a custom ROM on the GTab should WAIT a while longer to see what Amazon – and the XDA folks – do with it.
      Long live the VS G-Tablet!

    • Nick,

      I like the size of the Kindle Fire, but I still prefer my G-Tab running Flashback to most if not all of the tablets that I see, including the iOS machines.
      Ernie

      • Ray Waldo says:

        I am with you Ernie! I have the Nook Color, the Fire & the GTab. I prefer the GTab (by FAR) to either of the other tablets. I find the lack of hardware buttons on the Fire to be a severe problem – it is sometimes impossible to get the soft buttons to come up and give you a BACK button. It is not uncommon to have to turn the device off entirely in order to stop an app.

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