Amazon.com caused quite a stir in early October when it announced a new tablet computer for less than half the cost of Apple’s iPad. The Kindle Fire went on sale Nov. 14 for $199, but Associated Press technology writer Peter Svensson cautioned in a review that Amazon’s tablet doesn’t quite measure up to the iPad—in screen size or in other features.
Here’s Svensson’s review…
“The Kindle Fire is the first full-color, touch-screen Kindle. … The Fire is the best Kindle yet, no doubt about it. It’s amazing that it costs half of what the first Kindle cost, just four years ago, yet does so much more than display books. … But it has to be weighed against the competition. When you do that, it becomes apparent just how spare Amazon had to keep the device to limbo under that $200 price level.
“The Kindle’s design is even starker than the iPad’s. It’s a black monolith with only one button—the power switch—and two jacks, for headphones and power. All the controls are on the screen.
“The screen measures 7 inches diagonally, a bit larger than the monochrome Kindles and a bit less than half the size of the iPad’s. The smaller size does make the Fire more portable than an iPad; it will fit nicely into a handbag, for instance.
“The size of the screen wasn’t much of an issue on the monochrome Kindles, because they were mainly good for showing text anyway. But the responsive color screen of the Fire opens up a lot of possibilities, such as showing magazine and comic book pages.
“Here, the small size of the screen gets in the way. It’s just too far from standard page sizes to do them justice. Magazine pages look tiny. Amazon has to jump through some hoops to make them readable, like including a mode that shows just the text. But flicking through a magazine is still a lot of work—and that’s one thing that should not be like work.