Apple's iPad has single-handedly dominated the tablet PC landscape since its launch in early 2010. With so many tablets being launched since 2010, the question always arises as to how these new tablets stack up against the market leader, the Apple iPad 2.
We have seen many top tech companies launch their own version of tablet PCs like the Samsung Galaxy, Motorola Xoom and RIM's Blackberry Playbook, to name a few. However, none of these competitors have been able to significantly impact Apple's domination in the tablet PC arena so far.
At first glance, looks like the Amazon's all-new tablet will pose a significant challenge to the iPad 2, especially that it's priced at $199 compared to Apple's iPad 2 price of $499. However, a closer look at the specifications and features is required to help determine which tablet is right for you. Having said so, let's take a close look at the pros and cons of the Amazon Kindle Fire.
Operating System: the Amazon Kindle Fire runs on a customized version of Android 2.3 OS, whereas, the Apple iPad 2 runs Apple's iOS 4.3.1. Without getting too technical, these two operating systems are comparable, with a few differences. However, with the combination of the new cloud-accelerated split browser, Amazon Silk, the web experience on the Kindle is expected to have an advantage in terms of speed and performance.
Amazon Silk Browser: as briefly mentioned above, Silk is a cloud-accelerated internet browser that is exclusive to Amazon's Kindle Fire. In simple terms, this innovative web browser does all the heavy lifting through Amazon's remote servers, thereby using less resources of the Kindle Fire device. This not only helps in the tablets speed and performance, but also conserves battery life.
Processor: the Kindle Fire uses the TI OMAP 4 dual-core processor, whereas, the iPad 2 uses Apple's A5 dual-core processor. Both the processors have a speed of 1 GHz, therefore, they are quite comparable in terms of speed.
Memory & Storage: the first generation Kindle Fire has limited storage space at 8 GB and does not have an option to increase this storage (i.e. it doesn't have a microSD slot). However, the iPad 2 has various memory storage options, namely, 16, 32 and 64 GB. Having said so, Amazon provides free online storage space through Amazon cloud for digital content like apps, music, movies, books and games.
Display & Screen Resolution: the Kindle Fire as well as the iPad 2 have high-resolution multi-touch screens. However, the Kindle tablet has a smaller 7 inch screen as compared to the iPad's 9.7 inch screen. Therefore, depending on what you intend using your tablet for, you would choose one over the other.
Camera & Microphone: one of the drawbacks of the Kindle Fire tablet is that it lacks webcams. The iPad 2 comes with front and back cameras which are great for online video chatting or conferencing as well as for recording videos.
Battery Life & USB Port: the iPad 2 has an advantage over the Kindle Fire when it comes to battery life. The iPad 2 battery can last up to 10 hours as compared to approximately 8 hours on the Kindle Fire. In terms of USB support, the iPad 2 USB port is via the dock connector, whereas, the Kindle tablet has a built-in USB 2.0 (micro-B Connector) which is more convenient.
Wireless & 3G Connectivity: the Amazon Kindle Fire comes only with the Wi-Fi options, whereas, Apple's iPad comes with both, Wi-Fi options as well as 3G connectivity. So if you are constantly on the move and need to be connected to the internet, you need to be aware of this lack of 3G option in the Kindle tablet.
Apps Availability: the wide range and sheer number of apps available through the Apple Appstore as well as security of the apps is huge advantage for iPad users. However, Kindle Fire runs on the Android operating system, which means that users will have access to the Google Android App Market. Also, Kindle tablet users will have access to the Amazon Appstore which includes thousands of apps and games.
Price Comparison: Amazon has surprised the consumers by pricing the Kindle Fire tablet at US$199. Compared to the iPad 2 (the cheapest one) costing around US$499, this provides Amazon a huge advantage, especially if price is a big factor in choosing a tablet.
From the above review, one can determine that Amazon's Kindle Fire will not pose a significant challenge to Apple's iPad, other than the price differential. However, I believe that this is a great start for Amazon as it enters the competitive world of tablet PCs. By pricing the Kindle Fire at US$199, Amazon has made tablet PCs much more accessible to the mainstream and will be a popular gift idea for the Christmas/Holiday season.