The Amazon Kindle Fire: Should you wait for it or buy an iPad?
Should you put off getting the iPad 3 in favour of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, if the Android supertab ever comes to the UK? We look at the pros and cons
The Amazon Kindle Fire is something of a black swan in the world of Android-powered slates. It’s a cost effective tablet solution that doesn’t scrimp on hardware, but most importantly it comes with a solid proposition behind it – you’re able to consume all of Amazon’s services on it, including video, applications, games, book and magazines.
In this sense Amazon is already way in front of its fellow Android-powered brethren. The company has taken everything it does well online – Kindle books, apps, games, digital magazines, storage, music, video and films – and stuffed it all inside one extremely cost effective 7-inch tablet device.
Obviously for the purpose of this article we’re assuming Amazon will release the device in the UK. Not so long ago we spoke with a source close to the online search giant and they informed us that the Kindle Fire would definitely launch in the UK.
According to the source, the Kindle Fire would hit the UK in the latter part of January. Yet here we are in February still waiting. It’s still possible the device will make an appearance before the end of Q1 2012 however. A mere glance at the extremely positive US sales figures for the Fire provides all the financial logic you need to support a UK and European launch.
We guess it’s just a matter of time now. Still, though, is the Kindle Fire worth the wait or should you get Apple’s iPad 3?
One of the biggest strong points of the Amazon Kindle Fire, besides that $199 price tag, is the proposition behind it. Hundreds of millions of people frequent Amazon’s online store every year buying books, clothes, CDs, DVDs, posters, exercise machinery, etc, etc.
The idea behind the Kindle Fire is to take the entire digital aspect of Amazon and push it through to a tablet, so you’ve got access to your books, videos, music and applications wherever you are. Setting up the device is simple enough, too. Enter you Amazon account login and the Kindle Fire will immediately pull down all your purchased Kindle ebooks from its servers.
There’s also free cloud storage for all your purchases, so you don’t have to keep stuff physically on the device. Amazon’s Whispersync is also included as well and now supports video, so if you’re watching a video on the Fire and you get home you can switch on your TV and, providing it’s supported, it’ll pick up where you left off.
You’ve also got access to hundreds of thousands of books and full-colour editions of magazines. Amazon has even thrown in a month’s free subscription to Amazon Prime, which gets you unlimited, instant access to over 10,000 popular movies and TV shows, Free Two-Day Shipping on millions of items and access to thousands of popular Kindle books through the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.
Amazon’s MP3 Store now has around 18 million songs on it. You tap into all of these via your Kindle Fire and save them either physically to your device or on Amazon’s cloud server. There’s no access to Google’s Amazon Market either – but it’s not like you’ll need it. Amazon’s app store is just as good and only features applications that’ll work on the Fire.
None of Google’s core Android applications feature on the device either. We didn’t find this too troubling. But if you cannot imagine life without Google’s native Android applications you can always get them ported onto the Kindle Fire. Please note: this will require you to root the device – find out how this is done here.
Amazon vs iTunes
In terms of music, there are some notable differences between Amazon and Apple’s services. For starters Apple’s iTunes Store is the world’s number one portal for buying music. Couple this with the fact Apple takes a 30 per cent royalty on every purchase and it’s easy to see why it’s one of the wealthiest companies on the planet.
Another notable difference, however, is that Apple’s iTunes is slightly more expensive than Amazon’s MP3 Store. Music downloaded from Amazon’s MP3 Store is also DRM-free, unlike Apple’s, meaning you can copy it over to other devices. The average track on Amazon’s MP3 store is $0.69 and there are thousands of albums priced under $5, making it the more cost effective option of the two.
One of the big USPs of going with Amazon is the free cloud storage it offers – you can store all your music, books, video and films on Amazon’s servers for nothing. To access any of these you simply select the ‘Cloud’ aspect of your device and download the content you want. It literally couldn’t be easier.
Of course, Apple now offers cloud storage via its iCloud service. But like everything in Apple’s ecosystem you don’t get something for nothing and users wanting more than 5GB of storage will have to pay a premium for it. And this is perhaps the main difference between the two services: with Apple’s iTunes, to benefit fully, you need to be completely immersed inside Apple’s ecosystem using an iPhone, iPad and iPod, as well as Apple TV.
With Amazon it is a lot simpler and, most importantly, cost effective. Copying music to other devices, including an iOS-powered device, is straightforward and you’re not ‘locked-in’ for life as you some times feel is the case with Apple. It is also extremely difficult to fault Amazon’s selection of digital media. It’s got everything, including deals with the big four record labels, and in some instances content that Apple’s iTunes Store doesn’t have.
Apple’s iTunes is still bigger though – do not doubt that for a second. Yet despite this Amazon’s proposition still looks good, offering everything Apple does just at a cheaper price point and in a less locked-down manner. Couple this with all that free cloud storage, Amazon’s well-stocked applications, books and magazine quantities, as well as thousands of hours of TV and Film that’s now available, and it’s fast becoming increasingly hard to fault what Amazon is offering.
If you’re on a budget but want a tablet the decision between going with Apple or Amazon is a no brainer. At $199.99 in the US the Amazon Kindle is almost half the price of Apple’s iPad 2. How this ultra-affordable price point will translate in pounds and pence remains to be seen, but we suspect Amazon will keep the Kindle Fire around the £200 mark in the UK should it launch the tablet here.