All the major tech blogs who were lucky enough to get an early review unit are now posting their reviews. I'm not one of those blogs, unfortunately, so all i can do today is gather other blogger's reviews and be extremely jealous.
The reviews were generally good, but a number of the reviews noted that the software felt a little rough - like it was still needed some refinement, which is not unusual for a first release. I'm still working my way through the reviews, but most sounded like the Kindle Fire performed much like a $200 tablet. Well, it is a $200 tablet, but apparently some bloggers stood it up against the $500 iPad and were disappointed when it fell short. That is a little unreasonable, if you ask me.
Engadget - The Kindle Fire is quite an achievement at $200. It's a perfectly usable tablet that feels good in the hand and has a respectably good looking display up front. Yes, power users will find themselves a little frustrated with what they can and can't do on the thing without access to the Android Market but, in these carefree days of cloud-based apps ruling the world, increasingly all you need is a good browser. That the Fire has.
When stacked up against other popular tablets, the Fire can't compete. Its performance is a occasionally sluggish, its interface often clunky, its storage too slight, its functionality a bit restricted and its 7-inch screen too limiting if you were hoping to convert all your paper magazine subscriptions into the digital ones. Other, bigger tablets do it better -- usually at two or three times the cost.
Mashable - Most of these gripes are minor, and to fully appreciate the Amazon Kindle Fire, you have to step back and look at all you’re getting for $199 (the base 16GB iPad is $499, the Nook Tablet $249). This is a highly polished device and collection of services. It bakes in books, music, movies, apps/games, magazines, multi-tasking, universal search, easy access to anything you have in Amazon’s cloud, and a sense that this device and Amazon know you. It is the closest tablet I’ve seen yet to an Apple iPad: a consistent, well-thought out marriage of hardware and services that offer an almost frictionless environment for app purchase and content consumption. This is why the iPad has been so successful and why I think the Kindle Fire, despite its imperfections, is a winner, too.
- Pros Incredible value for the price. Sharp, bright, hi-res screen. Extremely easy to use. Free cloud storage for Amazon content.
- ConsSometimes sluggish. Screen can be very reflective. Limited on-device storage.
- Bottom Line The first easy-to-use, affordable small-screen tablet, the Amazon Kindle Fire is revolutionary.
Cnet - Though it lacks the tech specs found on more-expensive Apple and Android tablets, the $199 Kindle Fire is an outstanding entertainment value that prizes simplicity over techno-wizardry.
In the world of tablets, there are great products and there are cheap products, but very few great, cheap products. Fortunately, for those of you unwilling to shell out $500 for an Apple iPad 2, and wary of buying a piece of junk, Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire tablet should be at the top of your wish list.
Wired - If you already have $200 in your high-tech hardware slush fund, and you’re not willing to splurge one cent more, I suggest you wait longer before pulling the trigger on a tablet. Let that nest egg build. Let it grow interest. Wait for the Kindle Fire 2.
Gizmodo - If you like what Amazon Prime has going on in the kitchen, the Fire is a terrific seat. It's not as powerful or capable as an iPad, but it's also a sliver of the price—and that $200 will let you jack into the Prime catalog (and the rest of your media collection) easily and comfortably. Simply, the Fire is a wonderful IRL compliment to Amazon's digital abundance. It's a terrific, compact little friend, and—is this even saying anything?—the best Android tablet to date.
The Verge - If you're thinking about getting the Fire, you have to decide not just whether you want a tablet, but what kind of tablet you want. This isn't an iPad-killer. It has the potential to do lots of things, but there are many things I have yet to see it do, and I wonder if it will get there given the lean software support. It's my impression that Amazon believes that the Fire will be so popular that developers will choose to work on its platform rather than on Google's main trunk of Android, but that's just a theory right now.
Still, there's no question that the Fire is a really terrific tablet for its price. The amount of content you have access to — and the ease of getting to that content — is notable to say the least. The device is decently designed, and the software — while lacking some polish — is still excellent compared to pretty much anything in this range (and that includes the Nook Color). It's a well thought out tablet that can only get better as the company refines the software. It's not perfect, but it's a great start, and at $200, that may be all Amazon needs this holiday shopping season.