Amazon has updated its Kindle Fires, to keep up with the tablet arms race. But there’s one update that we haven’t seen, and that we need to before these become worth buying.
The problem with the Kindle Fire line is best summed up by Jeff Bezos insisting nobody wants an Android tablet because they’re gadgets! People want services! Not gadgets! That’s why Apple can’t sell an iPhone to save its life! They made all those billions off of iTunes, not selling gadgets!
The problem with the Kindle Fire line is that it exists solely to stream media; everything else is an afterthought, and boy does it ever show with Fire OS. If you boot one of these things, it’s clear right away that they exist not to be a personal computing device, but to deliver money from your pocket to Amazon in exchange for digital media. And that’s nice, but aren’t we a little beyond walled gardens at this point, technologically speaking? If you can get the same functionality for the same amount of money, and more control, which you can, why buy anything from the Kindle line?
Anyway, if you want a tablet with a broken operating system, you can at least get a nice tablet with a broken operating system. A nice touch is that the back is more angular to keep the speakers from being muffled and to better reflect sound off of hard surfaces; in other words, you can lay it down on a table and use it.
Under the hood, they’re all packing a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU and an Adreno 330 graphics processor, and have screens that start at 1920 x 1200 for the seven inch model and get better from there. And you can use these devices to download Prime content, to give it a workout.
Mayday is impressive as well; it’s basically speedy, complete tech support where the support guy can take over your tablet or videoconference with you to figure out what’s going wrong. So that’s pretty cool.
But until Amazon gives up and just makes it an app suite, or at least stops fighting people trying to root their Kindle Fires, this is a media streaming device for the relative who needs you to fix their computer constantly. It’s useful in that regard, but Amazon needs to do more to make these really catch on.