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September 29, 2011

10:59
A.M.

A first hand account of the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet

Total Responses: 24

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Hayley Tsukayama

Hayley Tsukayama

Hayley Tsukayama writes for The Washington Post's "Faster Forward" and "Post Tech" blogs, covering consumer technology and technology policy. A Minnesota native, she joined the Post in 2010 after completing her master's degree in journalism. She lives in Washington D.C. where she sings alto with a local choir and plays video games in her copious free time.

About the topic

Chat with the Post's Hayley Tsukayama, who got the chance to handle the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet yesterday after Amazon's press conference in New York. Ask her about the tablet's features, positive and negative points, how it compares to the iPad and more.

Related:
Amazon blazes into computing with new Fire tablet
Amazon?s Kindle Fire tablet unveiled (live blog)
Q.

Hayley Tsukayama :

Good morning all -- lots of questions so let's get straight down to business.

Q.

Haley Crum :

For those of you joining this chat today, don't forget to take the poll: Will you buy the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet?

Q.

Why compare the Fire to the iPad?

If you look at the specs, the Fire isn't a competitor to the iPad, it differs in screen size, functionality, and other features like cameras, GPS, etc., not to mention price. No, in fact, the Kindle Fire is a competitor to the Nook Color, which is nearly identical in screen size, processing power, and features and has a similar retail price. In addition, there are other 7" tablets available in this price segment that would be competitors of the Fire, but the iPad is not among them. The only thing that the iPad and the Fire have in common is that they are both tablets. Why must everyone insist on comparing everything to Apple's products? The Fire is an entry-level tablet, no more, no less. Stop trying to make it out to be something it isn't.
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

I hear you, but the truth is that when people think "tablet" it's hard not to think of the iPad. Apple has so thoroughly taken hold of the market. That said, I agree that the Kindle Fire isn't on the same level as the iPad and that it's unlikely they'll be competing for the same customers. The Nook Color is a great device, but Amazon has the same sort of content library that Apple does. That, I think, is really what the comparison should be. Not Fire v. iPad, but Amazon v. Apple.

– September 29, 2011 11:02 AM
Q.

Mi-Fi compatability

I just pre-ordered the Kindle Fire. Will it work with the Verizon MIFI I have - the one I use when I travel across country by Amtrak?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

Having filed much of the Fire coverage from a similar hotspot while on Amtrak, I feel your pain. Shouldn't be a problem.

– September 29, 2011 11:03 AM
Q.

Web navigating

How well does Kindle Fire handle basic stuff like web browsing and email?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

The basics are solid. Amazon Silk makes things very fast for Web browsing. As for e-mail, I only got to see how the tablet handles Gmail, but the layout looked familiar and easy to use. Didn't see an e-mail client, though, and didn't hear any thing about one. May have to stick with webmail on this one.

– September 29, 2011 11:07 AM
Q.

Manassas

If someone just wants a tablet (for the size) for email and light surfing, would this be a good choice? Might also do some reading but that's debatable.
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

Well, the Fire's real strength is in its access to content, so if you're not planning on reading much, then you'll be paying for something that you don't really want to use to its full potential. But it will certainly be up to the task of light surfing and e-mail.

On the other hand, for people who mainly want to read, I'd suggest sticking with the e-ink display. The Fire's screen wasn't bad about glare but it was no e-ink.

– September 29, 2011 11:11 AM
Q.

So..

I don't yet own an ipad. Which ones goes on my Christmas list? Kindle fire or ipad?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

That depends entirely on what you want from your device! If you're a reader and Web surfer first, then grab the Fire. But if you want to take pictures/videos or type a lot, then stick with a more functional tablet such as the iPad.

– September 29, 2011 11:12 AM
Q.

Storage and Connection

I've balked at getting a IPad since I can't quite justify the cost, but the lack of a non-WiFi connection and small storage capacity seems limiting to me. I'm wondering how useful Fire will be in places I don't have a great WiFi connection or no connection at all (subways, planes, the general public). Is this really a tablet I could use on any everyday, everyplace basis, or should I wait for either the IPad price to come down or a couple of generations of Fires to develop?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

It's true: without WiFi access, the Fire loses a lot. The lack of 3G connectivity is a big point against the Fire (though it would have brought up the price), which I why I stress that it's still really aimed at readers. You could load up the Fire with books/videos for those in-between times very easily, though.  If you can bear to wait, analysts do think that the Fire will only get better, though I had no idea on when/if it would get 3G.

– September 29, 2011 11:18 AM
Q.

Cloud

If you don't want to purchase all of your content from Amazon, will the 8Gb of memory be enough? It sounds like you won't be able to store non- Amazon content in the cloud.
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

Very true. 8GB would definitely not be enough for most people's songs, etc., if you're not planning to use Amazon content.

– September 29, 2011 11:19 AM
Q.

apps

Will the Fire have an apps store?

A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

The Fire will work with Amazon's curated version of the Android Market.

– September 29, 2011 11:20 AM
Q.

'Predictive browsing'

It's my understanding that Silk will try to predict your browsing habits based on what others do. This prediction practice will try and guess what pages you are going to visit next, and will then pre-load them in advance. Call me paranoid, but this smells like data mining to me. Any thoughts?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

Amazon Silk's director Jon Jenkins talked about this at the demo tables. He said that Amazon bases those predictions on aggregate data, much in the same way they do their product recommendations (people who viewed x also viewed y) So, for what it's worth, they say they aren't collecting personally indentifiable information, altering the Web re: ad partners or basically doing anything shady. I'm trying to look into it a little more, though, because I agree that the potential for data mining there is huge.

– September 29, 2011 11:23 AM
Q.

overall

well, what do you think?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

Always going for the big questions! Well, I like it as a souped-up reader and I can't argue with the price. The tablet itself was light (we weren't supposed to touch them, but I couldn't resist) and will be great for commuters or travelers with access to WiFi.  So initially I think it's a good product at a great price, but I'd like to reserve the right to change my mind until I spend some quality time with a review product.

– September 29, 2011 11:25 AM
Q.

Kindle Fire

So, does it have cameras? Can it run meeting? How much memory? Will it run Apple and Windows apps?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

No, No, 8GB, No. It's definitely not a must-have for business people, especially with a total lack of video/video chat capabilities. Not having that SD slot doesn't help it either, since it keeps people at 8GB unless they're using Amazon content on the Amazon cloud. It will be tied to Amazon's Android App Store.

– September 29, 2011 11:27 AM
Q.

Bitter

So last week I ordered a Kindle 3G/WIFI model - $139 ... now I see there is a new version w/o the keypad ... sort of bitter but oh well. I may pickup the Fire at a later point.
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

Sorry to hear that; I hate it when that happens.

– September 29, 2011 11:28 AM
Q.

Kindle Fire vs original kindle

How is the kindle fire for reading, is the display easy to read like the original or is it like the iPad which is not easy on the eyes?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

If you're mainly a reader, I'd say to stick with the e-readers and not the Fire. The Fire's like other tablets when it comes to display. It's not horrible under bright lights (I didn't get to take it outside, sadly) but it's no e-ink.

– September 29, 2011 11:30 AM
Q.

volume and brightness controls on the fire

Have heard that adjusting the volume/muting it are a convoluted process as there are now external contol buttons. What is the volume adjustment process on the Fire. Same question but as to brightness adjustments on the screen
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

Volume and brightness are controlled through the menu bar, which I agree is fairly annoying. (Especially volume.) That said, you can also control the music player from other applications, which is a nice touch.

– September 29, 2011 11:33 AM
Q.

Multiple Apps

How does the tablet handle multiple Apps/webpages at the same time?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

I didn't get the chance to try the multitasking, but it has tabbed browsing.

– September 29, 2011 11:33 AM
Q.

What about watching TV and videos on the Fire?

Is an Ipad the better choice?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

That's debatable. Certainly the 7-inch screen makes it harder to watch videos and TV together, but Amazon has a slightly bigger catalog of content to choose from. Then, of course, there's the fact that the Fire runs Flash.

– September 29, 2011 11:35 AM
Q.

Kindle Fire

So, is it a 7 inch phone, or iPod?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

Well, I wouldn't compare it to the iPhone since it doesn't have calling capabilties. I suppose you could call it a 7-inch iPod in terms of capabilities, but the easy access to Amazon service is really what makes the device interesting.

– September 29, 2011 11:36 AM
Q.

Arlington, VA

I've been considering doing some harm to my credit card by surprising him with an iPad for Christmas. I read the comparison of the Kindle Fire and iPad in the Post this morning, and based on that I'd still rather have an iPad. But since I'll need to buy two (can't NOT have one myself, now can I?) should I wait to see if Amazon's release causes a drop in iPad prices?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

Ooh, that's a tough question. I'm guessing that the Fire won't have any effect on the iPad's price, though. You could mix and match, I suppose. Again, it depends on what you want from it -- if you'll mainly be reading and watching then the Fire's a great value. If you want more, then that, though you may have to take the hit in the wallet.

– September 29, 2011 11:40 AM
Q.

Might be a stupid question, but that's why I ask

Is it possible to underline and highlight what you are reading with the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

I'm not sure, actually. I will make a note to check on that. Sorry!

– September 29, 2011 11:41 AM
Q.

Kindle Fire for consumption only?

An online review of the Kindle Fire stated that it was not to be compared to an Apple iPad because the Fire was unable to "create content" like an iPad can--meaning that a user cannot create documents, spreadsheet, audio/video content, etc using the device, but can only "consume content"--i.e. playback mp3 files, look at webbooks, pdfs, etc. Is this true? If the Fire is built on an Android platform, shouldn't it be able to run all the same apps as an Android, and thus be able to "create content?"
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

Well, right now you'll only have access to the apps Android has on its App Store which -- I think -- is lacking in great productivity apps. If you rooted the Fire to run other apps, you'd probably hit that 8GB wall pretty quickly, too. I'd agree the Fire is definitely more about consumption than creation.

– September 29, 2011 11:46 AM
Q.

KINDLE FIRE

Is the Kindle Fire operational in the Asia/Pacific regions, specifically tin the Philippines?

A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

Amazon reps said yesterday that they didn't have plans for launches outside the U.S.

– September 29, 2011 11:50 AM
Q.

Mixing Apples and kindles

Hi! I'm not a techie but I'm trying to get with the program. I recently replaced my dying HP desktop with an IMac. And I have I tunes. Does that mean I will always be in the ipod/ipad universe from now on? Would my apple files and my itunes play on a kindle type device? Or a droid? Does kindle belong in my world?
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

Kudos to you! Well, you're not stuck in the Appleverse forever, but it will take some time to move all that media across platforms. You could put your iTunes music into the Amazon Cloud Drive, which would then work with a Kindle. 

– September 29, 2011 11:54 AM
Q.

Hayley Tsukayama :

I stand corrected on e-mail, by the way, all. Sorry about that. The Fire does have a built-in e-mail app that will put many addresses in one inbox.

Q.

Re: Non-Amazon Content

You don't have to buy all your content from Amazon to use their services; you can store pretty much anything in their cloud storage. I've got about 120gb of music stored in their system, only a small subset bought from Amazon's mp3 store.
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

Yes. Sorry if I wasn't clear: the free, unlimited cloud storage only applies to Amazon content.

– September 29, 2011 12:00 PM
Q.

Consumption

As an iPad owner, I don't think the iPad is a realistic choice for creating content, either. I still write papers and edit pictures on my computer, though they're nice to view on my iPad occasionally. I wouldn't chalk content creation up as a huge advantage that the iPad has over the Fire.
A.
Hayley Tsukayama :

For documents, probably not, though I do think it's generally easier to type on a ten-inch tablet than on a 7-inch tablet. Not having cameras, though, is a problem for content creators.

– September 29, 2011 12:01 PM
Q.

Hayley Tsukayama :

I'm sorry all, I have to dash, but please send me questions via e-mail tsukayamah@washpost.com and we'll try and compile a Q&A from that. And I'll definitely keep your thoughts in mind when I write a review.

Q.

 

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