Why I’m unlikely to buy the new Kindle tablet

September 27, 2011

Amazon recently announced a press conference to take place tomorrow, September 28th.  It is widely expected to introduce the Kindle Fire, Amazon's long expected entry into the tablet market.

As per Time, the specs are: based on Android 2.1, but modified to the point of being unrecognizable, Siegler reports. The software will emphasize Amazon's own digital content—movies, TV shows, music, e-books and the Amazon Appstore—with a carousel view of all content on top and pinned app icons on the bottom. The idea is to make content purchases and consumption as simple as possible.

In terms of hardware: According to Ryan Block at gdgt, Amazon's tablet will look a lot like Research in Motion's Blackberry Playbook tablet—a 7-inch slab with sharp corners. That's because Amazon reportedly hired manufacturer Quanta, which designed the Playbook, to "shortcut" the Kindle Fire's development process.

Naturally, everything is speculation until Jeff Bezos gets up on stage and introduces the new product.  Many believe that it will be the first tablet offering to be a serious competitor to Apple's iPad.  Rumour suggests Amazon will be pricing this most aggressively – below cost at $250-$300.  That is half the price of the lowest spec iPad.  Equally importantly, it is considered a serious competitor because of the content that Amazon can provide.  In addition to the ebooks, Amazon provides the Amazon Android App Store, audiobooks, and video on demand.  Naturally, the new Kindle Fire will be setup to access all of this media content.  None of the other tablet providers could come close to matching Apple's content provision until now.

Now, to my comment as to why I personally am unlikely to purchase this new Kindle Fire.   First, I am not based in the US.  This means much of the content is unavailable to me at this point.  Secondly, for the several years, I have been hooked up into iTunes, and more recently, Apple TV for my digital media content. Now, I imagine it would be reasonably simple to transfer my existing content to the tablet, but like many users, transferring 10 years' worth of digital content is a daunting task.  Thirdly, and most importantly, my iPad and I are very happy together.  I do not need another tablet computer.

So, if it's not a replacement for my iPad, could it be a replacement for my much loved and used Kindle e-reader?  No.  The Kindle does one thing only, but it does it fantastically well – read ebooks.  While I have been known to read on my iPad, particularly magazines, the eInk screen on the Kindle makes it much easier on the eye for long form reading.  More to the point, no tablet could match the Kindle's battery life of up to a month. 

Having said that, I do believe the Amazon Fire would be a good purchase for someone looking for a basic entry level tablet to view digital content.  It's just not for me at this point.  With Amazon's return policy though, I may have to check it out.

However…  (yes there is a however) as the Apple Insider has rumours of two new eInk readers to be announced tomorrow too.  This rumour is far from substantiated, but I would be far more interested in the touch eInk "Whitney" model of Kindle than the tablet.  We shall see tomorrow -naturally I shall be posting my reaction to the announcement!

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