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Tablet Face-Off: Amazon Kindle Fire vs Apple iPad 2

Published
By Louis Ramirez, dealnews senior feature writer

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
OS
Google Android-based
iOS 4.2.1
Processor
Dual-core
Dual-core 1GHz Apple A5
Display / Resolution
7"
(1024x600)
9.7"
(1024x768)
Storage
8GB
16GB
Camera
None
640x480 front
Rear not specified
Wi-Fi
802.11n
802.11n
Battery Life
8 hours without Wi-Fi
Up to 10 hours with Wi-Fi
Weight
0.9 lbs.
1.3 lbs.
Price
$199
$499

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.



An avid gadget lover, Louis Ramirez has covered technology for Gizmodo, CNET, Laptop, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @LouisRamirez. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.

Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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16 comments
Ross
Having the most market share doesn't make it better.  It would be very naive to think that.  The iPad, or any Apply product for that matter, is perfect example.  See my post below.
Ross
You're right, PERCEPTION is the key.  Apple is a 'well-oiled' marketing machine.  I'm a Marketing graduate and that's what marketing people are good at; making you see what they want you to see.  Apple has made many believe that iPad is the only tablet worth getting, or even the only tablet there is!  Many people don't even realize that there are other very competitive tablets on the market.  When I walk around in public with my Iconia A500 people always say "is that an iPad?".  Hahaha, Apple marketing FTW!  Android tablets shouldn't compete on price, they should compete in marketing.  Most people don't buy things based on specs, rather how many times they've seen it on TV, the internet, in print, or heard it on the radio.
tartarm
whether it's apple or amazon..you will still have to sell your soul for sure.

I'd bet you spend more than the iPad with the connection to Amazon products in the first six months or so. it might be money you'd spend anyway...it might not.

the 7-inch screen is really a turn off for me.

Of course, the article fails to completely mention that Apple has it's own cloud product coming out this fall.  Apple also gives you 5GB, but any purchased media doesn't count against the 5GB. I wonder if Amazon's 5GB has something similar.

I also think you have to compare the Android OS to IOS5 as it will be out before the Fire is released.

I think the iPad has it's place and this will be a great alternative for those who want a tablet without ponying up the $$.
JPR_TheDealHunter
I completely agree with "thelarrywei" I really disagree with the statement, "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."

If the writer is stating that no tablet has been able to sell as many as the ipad has, that is different. But as far as specs, usability, and price. I know of several tablets that beat the iPAD hands down! I do own a tablet, I own the asus eee pad transformer. The battery life lasts WAY longer than any iPAD and the optional keyboard can turn it into a very nice small netbook and increase the battery life while it is at it.

People need to realize that just because the market share doesn't go with the android tablet... That doesn't mean that the tablet themselves are not just as powerful and "able to compete" with the iPAD. Of course, the price point also blows the iPAD out of the water.
kennyminot
I completely agree with dealguy. Personally, I consider Android tablets to be a great value, and I would never pay $499 for an iPad when I can get a Honeycomb equivalent for $350. That said, consumers fundamentally disagree. While Android has mostly taken over the smartphone market, it has not been as successful in the tablet realm. In my opinion, the most likely culprit is that people perceive Android as "the cheaper alternative" and are not willing to pay $350-500 when they can get an Apple product for around the same price. The recent Touchpad mania demonstrates that point--once the price dropped to $99, the tablet sold like hotcakes. I'm willing to bet the same will hold true with the Kindle Fire. 
menandDragons
slash that its the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) in stead of the Amazon Web Services cloud (AWS).   (the main comment is still being approved)
menandDragons
One of the things that was not mentioned on here that can be found of the Fire specs of http://Amazon.com
is that the fire is heavily based of off site processing.  They are counting on the cloud player to account for the lack of storage space and an off site web accelerator called the Amazon Web Services cloud (AWS). the details are on the link below: the idea is do as much of the processing work at the AWS as possible.  This does two things, first make for a faster browsing experience and two takes some of the demand off the on board processor.  
Personally, besides the small amount of data storage space (even with Cloud I want on board space), this is exactly what I have been looking for without selling my soul to Apple.  
www.amazon.com/...11382&pf_rd_i=507846#silkk[/url]
frankieballou
Since it streams, but has no microsd slot, what happens when you are on a plane or someplace either  w/o wifi or charges insane amounts for it? Out of luck? 8gb (but only access to 6) would fill fast if loading movies for a long trip. I think I'd miss the removable storage on my Nook Color. It really sounds great, though, if what I want a tablet for is to shop at Amazon.
estrello
you guys talk about two fundamentally different things and both of you are right to some extent IMHO. dealguy has a good point that in terms of market penetrance no tablet is even close to competing with iPad and I agree that Fire could potentially challenge this, AS LONG AS the two are considered in the same category! But in reality - they are not in the same category! Fire lacks compared to iPad in so many features that it's like comparing a $15k car to a $40k car. At the same time, thelarrywei is right that there are many honeycomb tablets that are comparable, if not better, to iPad, so saying Fire could be a best android tablet is not only completely wrong, a huuuge oversimplification etc, but most importantly - completely misleading to a crowd of people who know iPad but have not heard about very valid android alternatives!

dealguy, please fix this!
sirlasc
Apple groupies! WTF. keep buying overpriced gadgets!  with rationed technology, no control over your music, and ridiculous ads!
toddcovelli
The article is actually well written and makes some good points, so instead of attacking Luis, how about offering YOUR opinion instead? I have an ipad and love it but since I am a Prime customer and have access to all those movies and videos, this seems like a great deal to me.
brianlmoon
I have to agree with dealguy. My dad uses Facetime on his iPad to call me weekly. And we only live 1 mile away from each other. Likewise, my mother uses Skype to chat with her niece in Spain. All from a tablet. Nice I think.
dealguy
iPad market share is 80%, reports CNET ttp://news.cnet.com/...are-but-here-comes-amazon/[

If the remaining 20% was split equally among the 4 you mentioned, that's 5% each. 5% competes with 80%? Now THAT'S a complete joke! :D
thelarrywei
Against the iPad 2, "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." 

Really?

The Kindle Fire comes with a heavily modded version of Android and you already propose it could be "best android tablet"? 

Many prefer honeycomb to iOS. Many prefer their galaxy tabs, thrives, transformer pads, and xooms to the iPad.

I'm sorry, but this article is a complete joke. 
dealguy
Skype and Facetime matter a lot to some people, fwiw
caleb45
I'm not sure the camera in the iPad is much of an advantage. It's a pretty terrible camera that barely gets used.  I think the smaller screen is better as it will look better at the same resolution. I do think it's unfortunate the Kindle doesn't offer a better battery life or an SD slot. Does it have an mic?
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