Kindle Fire Vs iPad 2 Face Off

Kindle FireAmazon set the tablet market alight by launching its Kindle Fire Tablet at the market stealing price point of $199. Reportedly shifting around 100,000 units on its first day of release, it seems that the sub-$200 tablet market is ripe for the picking amongst those consumers who balk at the iPad’s $499+ entry price.

The big question, however, is whether it’s worth saving money with the low cost Kindle Fire, or if you’re better off spending the extra $300 on the iPad 2.

We try to answer that question below:

Hardware

The biggest hardware difference between the Kindle Fire and iPad 2 is in their size. For Amazon, the key to a tablet is its portability and the ability to hold it one handed. Amazon have shown this with their previous Kindle e-readers and they’ve maintained that small and light form factor with the Kindle Fire.

The Kindle Fire has a 7 inch screen which allows it to measure only 7.5″ x 4.7″, roughly the size of a paperback book. The iPad on the other hand has a large 9.7 inch screen, meaning that it measures 9.5″ x 7.31″; too big to slip into your average coat pocket.

The Kindle Fire also trumps the iPad 2 on the all-important issue of weight being 14.6 ozs (414g) compared to the iPad 2’s 1.33 pounds (601g). This is an important consideration for a tablet; tablets are designed to be held in use, unlike a laptop which is normally used on a desk or table.

The iPad and the Kindle are neck and neck when it comes to processing power. Both feature Dual Core processors coupled with 512MB of RAM. The entry level iPad 2 has 16GB of internal storage which is twice that of the Fire’s 8GB but the unlimited online cloud storage that the Fire offers more than makes up for this and frees up space on the device itself.

One feature that the Kindle fire does lack is a camera. Amazon have decided that in a world where every phone has a camera, this is one feature that tablet users can do without. Given that the size of a tablet doesn’t lend itself very easily to taking pictures, this might not be such a great loss. Whilst this means that Facetime won’t be replicated on the Kindle, asking an iPod or iPad user how often they use the Facetime feature might just give you the answer as to how much the camera will be missed.

The lack of microphone and recording ability may be a bigger problem seeing as it rules out the ability to skype, but many users also have a phone and a laptop that can fulfill this purpose perfectly well.

Game players may however miss the gyroscope feature that is lacking on the Kindle and this could be the deal breaker for those that spend their tablet time playing driving games.

 

Software

The Kindle Fire uses a version of Google’s Android operating system which Amazon has radically modified to both simplify it and to closely tie it into Amazon’s online content marketplace.

The iPad 2 features Apple’s standard iPhone, iPod and iPhone operating system iOS. The currrent version, iOS 4, will be replaced any day by iOS 5, which will introduce a range of enhancements and features such as the ability to take photos directly from the lock screen.

It’s impossible to know pre-release just how the Fire’s operating system will work in the real world, but on paper  it looks like a reasonable substitute for iOS5

Theoretically at least, it looks like being a tie between the Kindle Fire and iPad 2 when it comes to content that you can download onto your tablet.  The Kindle Fire, in a bid to complete with Apple’s wildly successful app store, will provide direct access to the vast Amazon marketplace offering hundreds of thousands of ebooks, apps, music, video and games.

Although newer, developers and content providers will be falling over themselves to make their content Kindle Fire compatible to lap up a share of the huge profits this offers. This should ensure that the Amazon App store is able to rival the Apple app store for size and perhaps exceed it when it comes to books.

The Kindle Fire will be loaded with Amazon’s new web browser, Silk, which they claim will cut down on page loading times by using Amazon’s vast collection of servers. Silk will also predict what pages a user will click on next and pre-load those pages to the tablet.

As an example, if you open the New York Times homepage then there is a good chance that you will then click on the lead headline story and so the Silk may pre-load that page such that it launches almost instantly. It remains to be seen how Silk will compare to the iPad’s Safari browser in real world use but Amazon certainly appear to have put their brainpower and technology infrastructure to good use with Silk.

The only software area in which there is clear winner between the Kindle Fire and the iPad 2 is  that the Kindle Fire supports Flash whereas the iPad doesn’t. Apple have publicly and consistently stated that Flash support isn’t an option for the iPad so it’s unlikely that Apple will match this feature in the near future.

The Kindle Fire also has a dual core processor which means that it will have no problem playing graphics heavy Flash games. Whilst the number of websites relying on Flash is slowly declining there’s no doubt that iPad users still miss out on a huge quantity of valuable web content.

Price

Comparing the technical features on the iPad 2 and Kindle Fire is a little like comparing Apples and oranges (sorry, we couldn’t resist) as they have markedly different form factors.

However there’s no doubt that when it comes to price, the Kindle Fire is a clear winner.   Even the cheapest iPad 2 costs $499 which is a huge amount for a device that can’t replace either your mobile phone or your laptop. Kindle Fire’s price of $199 makes it a far easier purchasing decision; there’s no doubt that it would be great to have a small, light device to browse the web, watch videos and play games, it’s just that many people can’t afford to pay too much for it.

Whilst the numerous online claims that Amazon are treating the Kindle Fire as a loss leader and only plan to make money on the apps and content can be taken with a pinch of salt, there is no doubt that as the prices currently stand the Kindle Fire is head and shoulders above the iPad when you look at value for money. For $199, not only will many people want one, they’ll give one to their kids too.