Following months of speculation, Amazon finally launched its iPad rival this morning. Dubbed the Kindle Fire, the new tablet will run a customized version of Google's Android OS, feature a 7" display, and come with a $199 price tag — making it the most affordable mainstream tablet we've seen to date. Even better, the new tablet works seamlessly with Amazon's Cloud Player services, making storage worries a thing of the past. But are these features and the price difference enough to make it the new tablet champ? We pitted it against the reigning king to find out.
Amazon Kindle Fire vs Apple iPad 2
Amazon Kindle Fire
Apple iPad 2
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The First Real iPad Contender — As Far As Features Go
When it comes to tablets, Apple's iPad 2 delivers the best experience, no questions asked. Not a single Android-based tablet has been able to compete, but now with Amazon joining in the tablet war, the entire ecosystem could change.
Ironically, on the hardware front the Kindle Fire's spec list doesn't look like an immediate threat to the iPad. In fact, it may even seem underpowered since it features a smaller 7" LCD, 8GB of storage, and just eight hours of battery life (with Wi-Fi turned off). In addition, there are still no solid details on the Kindle Fire's CPU, but so far we know it's at least a dual-core processor.
Where the Kindle Fire might pose a threat is in features. The new tablet is enhanced by Amazon's Cloud Player giving you immediate access to all of your cloud-based media. The Kindle Fire will also double as a media hub with access to Amazon's quartet of services including: Amazon Instant Video, a streaming service that hosts up to 100,000 movies and TV shows; Amazon MP3 Store, which boasts 17 million songs; Amazon Kindle Store, which houses over 1 million books; and (possibly) Amazon's Appstore for Android, which is home to over 200,000 Android apps. (It's still unclear if you'll actually be able to access the Android Marketplace.)
As if that weren't enough, the tablet also promises to offer a better web browsing experience using Amazon Silk, a "split browser" that calls on the Amazon Web Services Cloud to allow for faster web surfing and page rendering.
Kindle Fire May Offer Access to More Aggressively Priced Content
One thing the Kindle Fire won't have is an inflated price tag. Amazon is positioning its new tablet as a loss-leading device in order to win some of the tablet market share, and the company intends to profit from both app and content sales.
On the plus side, purchasing media for the Kindle Fire should be more affordable since Amazon's MP3 Store, Instant Video Store, and Kindle Store often undercut prices found via Apple's iTunes Store. Furthermore, free Video On Demand coupons or credits are extremely common.
Apps will likewise be less expensive thanks to Amazon's Android Appstore, which is known to significantly discount top-selling apps like Angry Birds Rio and RunKeeper.
All that said, users may want to revisit the cost of Amazon's Cloud Player services, as only the first 5GB of storage are free.
Kindle Fire Could Become the Best Android Tablet, But Does it Top the iPad?
We're as stoked about the Kindle Fire as your average geek. But does it beat the iPad? It's very difficult to say at this stage with specs alone, and with the boys in Cupertino potentially readying another upgrade. Furthermore, the Kindle Fire is a first-generation device, and it's already missing a few key features (like a built-in camera) that aren't on par with the Apple iPad 2.
However, if owning an iPad isn't a factor, we're inclined to say the Kindle Fire could easily become the best Android-based tablet available to date. It's got a modest, but respectable spec sheet, it takes advantage of Amazon's cloud storage, and most importantly, it makes media consumption easy, since it works in tandem with the Amazon's suite of digital stores. And for hardcore deal hunters, it also provides the most bang for your buck at $199.