As a first-generation Kindle adopter, my beloved e-reader is nearing its last legs (OK, it doesn’t help that I threw it when Bad Things Happened to a Character I Love in A Song of Ice and Fire). So I’ve been eagerly awaiting the details of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet so my smart tech-reporter friends can help me figure out which device I should get as a replacement for my little white-and-gray box. At Wired, Friend of the Blog Tim Carmody writes that the Kindle Fire tears the levees — high-priced technology that keeps folks from adopting certain methods of getting content — down:
The Kindle Fire, tablet, though, is the star of this show, because it leverages everything Amazon offers, from its multimedia sales to Amazon Prime streaming video service and free two-day shipping and Amazon’s industry-standard cloud infrastructure.
Quick hardware specs for the Kindle Fire: 14.6 ounces, dual-core processor, 7″ multi-touch IPS (i.e. infrared) LCD screen. What it’s missing: camera, GPS, 3G. It also has only 8 gigabytes of storage. But that’s a moot point: It’s a cloud-driven tablet…
Video isn’t the only draw of Kindle Fire over the mainstream e-readers. It also has Silk, a web browser leveraged by Amazon’s EC2 cloud processing power. Bezos calls it “a split browser.” It promises to use that extra computation power to do all of the DNS, TCP/IP, interactions, etc., on the back-end to make Silk much, much faster than competing mobile browsers. It also stores, reformats and compresses common instances of over-sized media designed for the desktop for faster mobile delivery. An Amazon engineer calls it “a limitless cache” to optimize the last-mile delivery between the web and the tablet.
At GigaOm, Darrell Etherington says the Fire isn’t an iPad killer:
The problem is that Amazon hasn’t really unveiled much with the Fire besides a fairly barebones delivery method for sales of its digital offerings. Limited storage means Amazon’s cloud services are almost a necessity for buyers, and yet the lack of 3G means that accessing content when you’re away from home will be difficult. The lack of both camera and microphone also mean that people can’t easily use this for taking or sharing mobile photos, or as a phone replacement with VoIP apps. The new Silk browser tech that does much of the processing work on Amazon’s EC2 servers is also interesting, but again severely limited by Wi-Fi-only network access. Amazon also didn’t talk about battery life, and a decision not to talk about it could mean it doesn’t compare favorably to the iPad’s all-day power.
So, tech-smart folks in the audience, what do you think, especially given the following things: I’m likely to pony up for a mobile hotspot shortly, so the 3G thing is not decisive; I do almost all of my job in a browser, so I don’t need anything fancy, but I would like the ability to bluetooth a portable keyboard to the device, which I’m gathering the Fire will not; I, uh, obviously watch a lot of media. Either way, I don’t really think the idea that the Fire won’t be a phone replacement is a killer. Of all the things the iPad can do, that never struck me as persuasive. And I do think Amazon is smart to realize that the main point of these devices for most customers is consuming media, not all of the other jazzy stuff Apple tells me the iPad can do in its television ads.