Let’s get this out of the way: I am not an early adopter. For example, I only recently (this year) bought a Vectrex, meaning I gave the technology a good 30 years to mature before buying in. And until yesterday, I avoided owning a tablet device.
Notice I said device, not “tablet computer” or “tablet PC.” That’s because most of these devices, while technically computers, are not suitable for most of the things people (and by people, I mean me; YMMV) use computers to do. I’ve experimented with these things before; taking one off a friend’s hand for a few minutes; and have always been unimpressed. Not because I didn’t like them, but because for $500+ they weren’t worth it. My estimation of tablets to date has been “meh.”
Because: they are toys. Their usefulness is limited to doing things toys do. Yes, Apple iPad users, I think your tablet is a toy, too.
And that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with buying, owning, and using (playing with) toys. But let’s not be pretentious about them (*cough* Apple *cough*). And when it comes to toys, I don’t feel the need to get the first ones, especially when they cost too much.
Yesterday I opened a Kindle Fire. Tablets are ready for prime time.
This thing is great. And I figured out why: it’s not pretentious. The Fire doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. It doesn’t bother to tell you what kind of processor its running, though you can find out if you care. It doesn’t have a camera because there is no reason to put a piece of junk light sensor on a tablet when we all know you already have a piece of junk light sensor on your cell phone. It doesn’t have a GPS because your tablet doesn’t need one. It doesn’t have 3G because you really don’t need it since you can download your books and a movie or two and you will probably have access to free WiFi where you are anyway. It only has 8 GB of on-device storage because that is enough and more costs more. It has a rubberized back because this isn’t a device made to be beholden; this is a utilitarian device made to be, well, utilized.
The people who made the Fire know I am not going to try to use this to do work, so they didn’t waste time and hardware putting things in there to make me think it might be useful for work. Instead, they made a solid device with which I can read books, browse some websites, check (but not really much else, unless you like to torture yourself with a non-keyboard) email, check facebook, listen to music, etc. And it does all these things well, while being the perfect size.
I’m not going to give an in-depth review because there are already a thousand reviews out there. But I will say this: The Kindle Fire is “worth it.” They got it right. It’s $200 and while it’s not an iPad, the fact that it is not an iPad is a good thing for me. If I wanted an iPad I would have bought one already. I didn’t, and I’m glad I waited for the Fire.
PS: thanks to my wife for not objecting to wrapping an empty box so I could use the Fire she got me as a gift.