There are times when less is more in terms of technology. And frankly, at its $US199 price point. That less is definitely more.
The iPad 2 is a great device. Hell, I bought my wife one. But I don't need a $US500 tablet. The Fire gives me the features I want at a price point that's less than half of the iPad 2. I can check my email, browse the internet, maybe play a few games, most importantly, I can read magazines in colour on a Kindle.
I use the computer to work. While it's fair to say that the iPad can be used to create content, I really don't have time to tap away on a touchscreen when I have a perfectly good MacBook Air. The features that set the iPad above the Kindle Fire are wasted on me. I don't need those. I'll never edit a video on the iPad. I have Final Cut Pro for that. Taking pictures on a tablet is ludicrous, I have an iPhone for quick shots and a DSLR to make me feel like I'm talented. It comes down to features and price. It's too much, for too much.
The Kindle Fire fills that tiny tablet gap in my life. It only has the features I really care about at a price point that's reasonable. It's more than reasonable, it's pretty great. But more importantly, it's the colour Kindle I've been waiting for. I don't care about built-in 3G. That's what Mi-Fis are for. The camera on our iPad was used the first week just to point out how horrible the pictures looked. The only downsides to the Kindle Fire are the lack of external speaker and Bluetooth. But these aren't deal breakers in my book.
Amazon has already sucked me into its Kindle-library clutches. I find myself trolling the Kindle store for books while sitting on the couch. Amazon's Whispersync has made it easy to add those purchases to the Kindle app on my iPhone. Now that I can run borrow books from the local library on the Kindle, I'm sold. You win Amazon, here take my money.
Apple was the first company to realise that a tablet computer doesn't need to be a full-fledged "computer" to succeed. All a tablet needs are the features that people actually use. Amazon just took that idea and ran with it. It won't be long before other companies attempt the same thing at an even lower price point.
My wife loves her iPad 2 and I'm happy I bought it for her. But for me, the $US199 Kindle Fire is the tablet I've been waiting for.
Note: US only for now. No surprise really, given the tight integration with Amazon's App Store, cloud, and entertainment services. But with the Kindle 3 now available from Woolworths, Dick Smith and Big W and Amazon itself readying a local data centre targeting biz cloud computing -- hopefully the Fire won't be extinguished before Aussies get to try it, though it looks messy in the short term! Of course, Giz will keep you posted.