Amazon Kindle Fire: It Burns!

I love Amazon — I use it all the time. I pay for an Amazon Prime account. We use Amazon Fresh as our primary grocery service. I paid $200 for the Kindle Fire (like everybody else). The new Kindle Touch is the absolute best eBook Reader on the market today. I have absolutely nothing against Amazon.

David DiFranco spent his hard-earned money on a Kindle Fire — and he’s selling it (citing very cogent reasons for wanting to do so). He has every right to sell it, as he had every right to buy it. Unfortunately, I’ve been feeling just as much consternation over this thing as David has.

Blaming David for the Kindle’s shortcomings is shortsighted and inappropriate. The onus is on Amazon to improve this experience, not us.

I was blacklisted from Amazon’s PR efforts at one point because I was deemed “not positive” before the first Kindle shipped, but only after suggesting to Bezos that the true value of the first Kindle was in subscriptions and content (not the device itself). Lo and behold, years later, we find Amazon not making an incredible amount of money with the Kindle hardware, making up for it in software / services. Derp.

Amazon Kindle Fire: It Burns!I purchased a Kindle Fire in the hopes that it would be one of the better Android tablets out there (even with a wildly outdated and modified version of the OS). I was both right and wrong. The service, in theory, is outstanding — but it’s being crippled largely by the lack of optimization. In other words: The first Kindle Fire is a decent piece of hardware with a rather lackluster software experience.

I’m sure that a ton of people will be getting Kindle Fires for Christmas — but if this is their first “tablet” experience, even at $200, they’re really missing out. Not to say that it’s the best Android tablet, but I don’t find it to be any better or worse than any other Android tablet available today. Don’t blame me — I’m not developing it. I love Amazon, but I don’t love the Kindle Fire. Not even close.

It sucks to use today’s Kindle Fire. I have my Kindle Fire sitting next to me and I’d still rather walk upstairs and use another device to do anything I could do on the Fire outright. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had to tap an icon repeatedly before it did what it should’ve done after the first tap.

Price? Perfect. Great promise? Yes. Frustration? Too much.

Amazon should absolutely be working around the clock to optimize this sucker. In its current state, I don’t want to use it — and I’m hard pressed to even recommend it today (unless the person has $200 burning a hole in their pocket and really, really, really, really wants it). By choosing Android, Amazon is on the right path — but even with me loving to watch Frasier reruns every night (seriously, that’s not a joke), I hate using the Kindle Fire in its current state.

The software (and experience, vicariously) is lacking in more than a few ways. This isn’t a slight against Android, either — as even the strongest Android supporters have already written off the Fire. I’ve always liked the idea of Android, but implementation has always seemingly fallen short — even on my Google TV. Hell, even Mattias Duarte himself, at the ICS reveal, said: “While people like Android, while people need Android, they didn’t love Android.”

Boom. If I don’t love a product, I don’t even want to use it (and I certainly can’t recommend it).

The customizations that Amazon’s made to Android aren’t horrible, mind you. The Kindle Fire UI is cohesive, clean, and straightforward. It’s also rather nice to get a free Android app of the day courtesy of Amazon — you can’t forget about that. But the herky-jerky transitions, the sluggish animations, and a near-constant “this app doesn’t look like it was built for my screen” issues are too great to ignore.

If you want to purchase the Kindle Fire because you were hoping it will be an amazing eBook reader, you’ll have overpaid by at least $100. You’re better served by the Kindle Touch (which is a very-recommended buy). Or, you could stick with your current mobile device if the Kindle reader is available for it.

If you purchase the Kindle Fire because you absolutely need to view Netflix on the go, you might be happy enough. Amazon Prime has content to offer, but is it priced that much better than the alternatives like YouTube, iTunes, or a traditional content provider? Dunno.

Geeks who are inclined to hack / root their devices at the drop of a pin are already flocking to a modern alternative (a Nook tablet), but some are sticking with the Fire. I’ll hold onto my Fire for now, too — if only because I want to see where this thing goes. But is “promise” enough to keep a consumer’s interest? That’s an ill-advised bet.