“People complain about how Apple dictates the terms of access to the iPhone and iPad, but Amazon’s Kindles have always been more restrictive, and the Fire is only a slight departure from that strategy.

“You can’t buy copy-protected books from anyone but Amazon and expect to read them on the Fire, as you can on the iPad. Even the Nooks allow third-party books. Amazon achieves this control by operating its own app store, separate from the Android Market run by Google. Clever people will figure out a way to bypass this and install any app they want, but most people won’t want to bother.

“To Amazon’s credit, it’s … letting the apps for the Netflix and Hulu streaming services onto the device, in competition with Amazon’s own streaming service. So the Fire does justice to fiction and movies, but the iPad does better in almost every way, particularly in the selection of apps, which is about 50 times greater than the Fire’s.

“If the step up to $499 is too much, you might want to consider the Nook Tablet, which comes out [Nov. 18]. At $249, it will be the same size as the Fire, but with twice the memory, plus a memory expansion slot. It won’t access all of Amazon’s goodies and apps, but it will have Netflix and Hulu. Take a look at it before jumping to the Fire.”


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