It’s spring and the mind of the geek turns to new hardware releases.
I recently got my hands on a Kindle Fire, Amazon’s 7″ Android tablet. I can see why they are selling like the preverbal hotcakes. For $200 you get an Android tablet that is optimized for the Amazon eco-system.
The screen is sharp, and the text clear. It’s still not an e-ink display, so if all you want to do is read books, you are better off with one of the other Kindle devices. They are cheaper and easier on the eyes for prolonged reading.
The Fire is also WiFi only. No cell carrier based updates and also, no Bluetooth. So no add on keyboards or wireless headsets. There is a headset jack, and stereo speakers. You’ll probably want to use headphones or ear buds, but the audio is good enough through the speakers for casual use.
It has just one button, everything else, including volume/mute requires multiple touches to the screen to adjust. The screen is also a fingerprint magnet. Possibly worse than first gen iPads. Bad enough were I started carrying a stylus I had picked up to draw on the iPad with to use *all the time* on the Fire. The screen is very crisp and the video quality is quite good, so I don’t want to be staring through fingerprints to see that picture quality.
I’ve heard one review consistently that I have to agree with. For content formatted for the 7″ screen, it looks great! Other content, not so much. Streaming video from Amazon in landscape is large and sharp! I’ve loaded some video content and the gallery player only plays it in portrait mode, so I’ve got landscape formatted video playing in the middle third of the portrait mode screen. Definitely sub-optimal. Browsing the web is not as clean as it is with a larger screen (an iPad for example). I found myself constantly having to drag the screen focus in order to read the end of a line.
The Amazon Android App store is ok, but definitely limited.
Bottom line, if you are already invested in the Amazon eco-system, and just want to read books & magazines, and watch videos from Amazon, then is a very well spent $200.
If you want more flexible device in order to see more of the Internet than what Amazon provides, then you are better off with a tablet with a 10″ screen, with either a more open version of Android or Apple iOS.
AT&T is finally carrying an Android based phone, this one is made by Dell, and called the Mini 3. This phone has been selling overseas already, so the specs are pretty well known. 3.5-inch 640×360 display, Bluetooth, 3 megapixel auto-focus camera with flash, microSD, and GPS. Two things catch my eye, no WiFi and and microSD support. So that is the bad and good points right off the bat. No WiFi was one of the major complaints about the Crackberry Storm.
The inclusion of a microSD slot is a big, big plus. The lack of an additional memory source is the biggest strike against the iPhone hardware, IMNSHO.
The other new Android phone is Google’s own Nexus 1. We’ll see how long that name lasts. The estate of Philip K. Dick is already taking legal action against the name. Otherwise, this is an impressive bit of hardware. It sports a one-gigahertz processor, a 3.7-inch display, a five-megapixel camera, light and proximity sensors, and dual microphones that allow for noise cancellation. Woot! This phone also has a removable battery! The serious road warrior can pack a spare for emergencies. The phone itself only has 512 Meg of flash memory, but it comes with a 4 Gig microSD card. The phone will support up to 32 Gig in that slot, so expansion is available.