So Amazon has officially announced its
Fire tablet, based on the Android OS with a very attractive $199
pricetag, and is currently taking pre-orders for a release on
November the 14th. People everywhere are talking about how the Fire
will "give the iPad 2 a run for its money". Whether that
will actually transpire or not, it remains to be seen, but I've
whipped up a fairly brief comparison article between the two tablets,
here, for those that are confused about which device they should buy.
Let's get started.
Hardware of the Kindle Fire vs. The Apple iPad 2
Both tablets are fairly similar as
specs and inner workings go. The iPad features Apple's
custom-designed A5 system-on-chip, which contains a dual-core
ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore CPU (apparently running at 1Ghz), a dual-core
PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU, and 512MB of 533Mhz LPDDR2 on-chip memory.
Meanwhile, the Amazon Fire contains an OMAP4430 SOC built by
Texas instruments, containing pretty much the same dual-core CPU as
the Apple A5, alongside a simpler PowerVR SGX540 GPU, and 512MB of
memory outside the main chip. Unless you're planning on playing games
on your Kindle Fire, the faster GPU in that iPad won't really matter
all that much over the Fire's slower chip.
Moving on, the Fire only has one option
for on-tablet storage - 8GB (closer to 6GB actually, according to
Amazon.) The iPad 2 offers 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities. The iPad
also offers 3G cellular broadband (depending on what model you
purchase), Bluetooth support, WiFi, and dual cameras. Out of all
those, you only get the WiFi support with your Kindle Fire. Worse
yet, the iPad's battery, according to Apple, will last 10 hours while
browsing the web, watching videos, or listening to music, while the
Kindle Fire, despite its smaller physical size, will do only 8 hours
while reading eBooks with the wireless turned off.
Fortunately, the Amazon Fire sports
built-in stereo speakers, while the iPad 2 only has a measly mono
speaker (both have headphone jacks, though), and the Fire, by virtue
of its smaller size, weighs only 413 grams, while the no-3G version
of the iPad 2 weighs in at 601 grams.
Which is the winner here? The iPad 2
overall, but the Fire isn't that far behind. You'll soon find
out in the next category that the Fire's smallish 8GB storage
capacity doesn't really matter that much, and, anyway, do you really
need Bluetooth or even 3G support with your tablet? The Fire will
also appeal to those that want a lighter, smaller tablet. To top it
off, Amazon may release some software updates in the future, bent on
improving the efficiency of the OS and related services, and thus
increasing battery life. You never know until it happens, right?
Software of the Kindle Fire vs. The Apple iPad 2
Amazon has created some interesting
software for its Kindle Fire tablet. It runs a forked version of the
Android 2.3 operating system with a custom UI, and access to the
Amazon Appstore for software. There's support for the Kindle eBooks
(of course), and Amazon Prime for unlimited movie and TV show
streaming. Amazon's custom web browser, dubbed Silk, also lives on
the device, with Opera-style "cloud computation" for faster
page loads. Speaking of cloud, you also get an unspecified
(unlimited?) amount of cloud storage for all the content you download
Meanwhile, the iPad, expectantly, has a
huge advantage over the Kindle Fire in this category, due partly
because it shares pretty much the same software platform as the
ubiquitous iPhone. In addition, the new iOS 5 came out a few days
ago, bringing with it "200 new software features" and the
iCloud service. There's also FaceTime, the iBookstore, the iTunes,
Find My iPad, and a couple dozen other varied features. Last but not
least, the Apple App Store boasts over 500,000 apps (as of October
the 4th of this year), while the Amazon Appstore, well, we don't know
how many apps are available on there, but it's safe to say it
probably has a lot less than that number.
So the iPad is the obvious winner in
software features, here. But does anyone actually need all of
these extras? Sure, they may sound cool, but for most of us,
the Amazon Fire's simpler software package will be more than enough.
Just something to think about.
Screen of the Kindle Fire vs. The Apple iPad 2
This category is a little bit unfair,
as these are two differently sized tablets. The Amazon Fire sports a
7" display, while the iPad 2 uses a 9.7" model. Both
support Multi-Touch, both are LED-backlit and both are fashioned with
IPS technology. However, the Amazon Fire's screen resolution weighs
in at a netbook-style 1024x600 pixels, while the iPad 2 sports some
extra vertical real estate with its 1024x768 resolution.
If this were an all-out specs are
everything sort of comparison, like many that no doubt exist out
there on the web, the iPad would win without a second thought. But
this isn't one of those comparisons. You really aren't losing much
screen resolution with the Fire's physically smaller screen. Go
with one or the other here; the tablets tie in this category.
Price of the Kindle Fire vs. The Apple iPad 2
We're coming back to the introduction
of this article. The 8GB Amazon Fire is priced at only $199, compared
to the basic 16GB iPad 2, which is priced at a whopping $300 more.
The Fire wins here, of course. Does double the storage capacity,
an established software platform, extra hardware features, and the
obvious styling that comes with the Apple brand name make
the increased price tag of the iPad 2 justifiable over the
bargain-priced Kindle Fire? That's up to you to decide.