When to buy an Android tablet and when to buy a Kindle Fire
you get an Android tablet like the Galaxy Tab or, well, an
Android-based tablet like the Kindle Fire? Read this article to find
been using my Kindle Fire more and more over the last week, and my wife
recently got hers as well. I’m getting familiar with a machine that’s
not half bad, but also not perfect.
since I wrote those two articles, I’ve apparently become the go-to guy
among my friends and neighbors for holiday tablet purchases. The “should
I get an iPad or should I get a Kindle” question is easy, because they
are such different devices.
one that I’m asked even more, though, is whether to get an Android
tablet like the Galaxy Tab or, well, an Android-based tablet like the
Kindle Fire. The confusion is that since they’re both based on Android,
what’s the right choice?
let’s clarify things a bit. The Kindle Fire is to Android like Mac OS X
is to UNIX. The underlying OS for the Kindle Fire is Android (which,
okay, is based on Linux, which itself is based on UNIX, sigh). But
unless you hack your Kindle, you’ll never see a traditional Android user
then, let’s get that over-with. You can buy a $199 Kindle Fire, hack
it, and run a generic Android distribution on it, and it then becomes
something of an Android tablet. But you have to want to do the hacking,
have the time, have the technical chops, and not mind if you break
stuff. Basically, if you want to tinker fer cheap, then the Kindle Fire
might be fun.
though, the question of Android vs. Kindle becomes more of what you
want to use your tablet for and how much you want to spend. While the
Kindle Fire is pretty inexpensive, it has some serious functional
limitations. It doesn’t have Bluetooth, so an external keyboard is
either unlikely or very hacky. It doesn’t have a camera. It has
relatively little storage and RAM. And, unless you hack it, it doesn’t
have access to the main Android app store.
typical (if more expensive) Android tablet has all those things. So, if
you want a tablet for general purpose use, if you want to take it on
the road to write or edit video or photos, you’ll want something with
more power than the Kindle. Essentially, if you want to produce content
or have a general-purpose tablet, you’ll want an Android tablet, and not
on the other hand, you want a tablet to consume content, and especially
if you’re very comfortable with the Amazon ecosystem like my wife and
me, then you may want the Kindle Fire. In other words, if you want a
backlit Kindle you can read in the dark, that’ll also do some other
stuff, then buy the Kindle Fire.
have an iPad. We don’t use it as much as most families, because I do
most of my couch-reading on a large-screen HDTV. I’m also writing this
on that screen. But my wife uses the iPad on the treadmill (she says
it’s the perfect treadmill tablet), she uses it to watch knitting
videos, and I use it to power my teleprompter during interviews so I can
look straight at the person I’m interviewing, rather than at a monitor.
contrast, I use the Kindle Fire in bed, to read and occasionally watch
Netflix videos. I also, sometimes, use it to carry around and read
appliance repair manuals PDFs in one hand, while holding a tool in the
other, trying to get something or other working in our new house. The
Kindle is light enough for easy one-handed use, which is great for
reading repair manuals.
assuming you’re happily in the Android ecosystem (vs, say, the iOS
world), get a Kindle Fire if you want a cheap consumption device, and
get a real Android tablet if you want to do real work with Android.