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Kindle Fire

September 28, 2011

I pre-ordered Amazon’s new Kindle Fire today. While I have no intention of ditching my iPad (I expect it’ll continue to see the same level of use it does today, or perhaps more as my team at work explores business applications of tablets), after playing with a Samsung Galaxy Tab from work for months I’m convinced that 7-inch form factor tablets do fill a niche.

The biggest advantage of 7-inch tablets is that you can comfortably hold them in one hand. While you can sit down and read on an iPad (or 10-inch Android tablet), they’re big and heavy enough that you really need to either use two hands or rest them on your lap. I personally find the iPad too big to comfortably read books. The 7-inch tablet, by contrast, is just about right (I find 4-inch smartphones too small for reading comfortably.

While I have a first generation Kindle that I still use for reading (and I do really like the e-ink display and battery that lasts and lasts), using a 7-inch tablet for reading has a big advantage: it has its own light source. I often read in bed next to my wife, who falls asleep before I do. With I use my Kindle I need to use a reading light, which even though it’s better than a bedside lamp still lights up the room a bit. A 7-inch tablet, by contrast, is easy to read in the dark but (with the brightness turned down) puts out little extraneous light.

I’d been keeping my eye on 7-inch tablets for awhile, intending to eventually pick up one for my own personal. While I like the original Galaxy Tab’s form factor, it’s underpowered and expensive. I’d been keeping my eye on Samsung’s announced Galaxy Tab 7.7 because it’s supposed to run Android 3.2 and from the specs looks like it’ll be more capable, but it’s unclear when it’ll ship or how much it’ll cost.

And then Amazon announced the Kindle Fire. While the early adopter in me would prefer something running a more current version of Android, at the end of the day I’m more interested in a good media consumption experience than pushing the boundaries on Android (I’ll still have my iPad for more cutting edge tablet experiences). I want to be able to read books (all my Kindle books will carry over seamlessly). Watch movies while traveling (I’ve occasionally wished I could bring the Galaxy Tab instead of my iPad when traveling for work, but I like to rent movies when traveling. Problematic with regular Android, easy with the Kindle Fire). And listen to music. Check, check, and check.

The price tag obviously helped too. At $199, I spent more on my first generation Kindle than the I will on the Kindle Fire. Even when the Galaxy Tab 7.7 ships, I don’t expect it’ll be anywhere near the Kindle price point. I admit I hesitated slightly at the 8 GB storage limit (I regularly fill up my iPad when traveling), but since Amazon is backing the Kindle Fire with their cloud storage it may work ok; time will tell.

So I placed my order, and I’m looking forward to playing with it. Too bad I have to wait almost two months. Although if by some miracle Apple announces a 7-inch iPad at their event next week all bets are off and I’ll likely be cancelling that order right quick…

  1. Ken permalink

    I agree that the 7″ screen size fills a niche in the ecosystem of devices. My Kindle 3– or I guess now a clunky and old-fashioned sounding “Kindle Keyboard– which is also around 7″ screen has already convinced me of that. And I think it’s the overall size of the device including the bezel that really matters, not just the screen dimension.

    I guess the question that is still unclear is what the real differences between 7″ and 10” form factors are — what’s best for what, when, why, for whom, and what tasks– and of course, in an ecosystem where these and other form-factors are present, what’s the specialization of roles that evolves as users disaggregate their computing (reading, music-listening, writing, annotating, …) tasks to the devices that suit them best? And what new and unusal pairings or triptychs of devices will become possible, or even prevalent?

    Hmmm, interesting futures await us. I’m just not sure which one yet.

  2. Jeff permalink

    I think it’s both overall size and weight; it’s got to be comfortable to hold in one hand as well.

    I’m still curious whether the 7-inch form factor will catch on in business. I see a lot of iPads at business conferences and in client meetings, but not (yet?) many 7-inch devices. But an advantage of the 7-inch is that it’ll fit in a jacket pocket, while with a 10-inch device you’re stuck holding it in your hands or throwing it in a bag (with the exception of the individual I saw at a business conference who tucked his iPad into the back of his pants, but I’d prefer society not go there).

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Kindle Fire: Day 2 « Moebius Strip
  2. In praise of small tablets | jeff pierce

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