Recently Amazon announced their entry in the tablet device called the Amazon Kindle Fire. Some of you might have used an Ipad or have considered buying one. While they're similar in form and function in that they both have color displays with multitouch, run 8-10 hours on a full charge, they let you listen to music, watch videos, read books and articles, access the web, and run apps, they're really two very different devices.
The Kindle Fire sports a 7" screen and is much smaller than the 9.7" Ipad 2 making it a much smaller more portable device, though not quite pocket-able like a cell phone. It's also somewhat lighter, so if portability is important to you, the Kindle Fire may be for you.
What do you give up by going with the smaller device? Screen resolution is reduced from 1024x768 to 1024x600 and also, everything appears smaller, so you will either have to use zoom more or bring the device closer to your face. In some ways, the Ipad 2 is better suited for reading while sitting, while the Kindle Fire form factor may be preferable while standing and on the move.
Another reason you might choose the Kindle Fire is if your budget is only $200. You probably can't even get a used first generation Ipad for that price, but you do get similar processing power to that first generation Ipad.
The Amazon Kindle Fire runs Android OS, so it's like all the other Android OS versus iOS discussions. Both have thousands of apps, so unless the specific app you're looking for only exists on one camp, it's not likely to sway you one way or the other.
One challenge for all these tablets has been the limited browsing performance, often taking many times as long as doing the same thing on a laptop or desktop computer. The one thing that might differentiate the Kindle Fire is the Amazon Silk browser that promises to "revolutionize browsing speed" using a "split browser" architecture. Instead of your tablet doing all the processing, much of the work can be done by Amazon cloud servers and quickly sent to your tablet. I believe this is the single most important development that could turn browsing from a tolerable experience to an enjoyable experience. Those of you that have tried using Adobe flash on tablets know it's quite frustrating. On the Ipad it's not even possible without going to a 3rd party browser or server based browsing. Kindle Fire using partially server based browsing makes Adobe Flash a potentially usable and useful addition.
Most buyers looking at the Ipad 2 and the Kindle Fire might at first consider both, but will quickly realize that one or the other will better suite their needs. Price and screen size will likely be major determinators, for in the unlikely even that you're still sitting on the fence, and browsing capabilities might sway your decision, Amazon Silk might be the secret weapon that Kindle Fire offers.
Specifications (from http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Color-Multi-touch-Display-Wi-Fi/dp/B0051VVOB2
Display 7" multi-touch display with IPS (in-plane switching) technology and anti-reflective treatment, 1024 x 600 pixel resolution at 169 ppi, 16 million colors.
Size (in inches) 7.5" x 4.7" x 0.45" (190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm).
Weight 14.6 ounces (413 grams).
System Requirements None, because it's wireless and doesn't require a computer.
On-device Storage 8GB internal. That's enough for 80 apps, plus 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.
Cloud Storage Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
Battery Life Up to 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback, with wireless off. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as web browsing and downloading content.
Charge Time Fully charges in approximately 4 hours via included U.S. power adapter. Also supports charging from your computer via USB.
Wi-Fi Connectivity Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use the 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or 802.1X standard with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication; does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
USB Port USB 2.0 (micro-B connector)
Audio 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, top-mounted stereo speakers.
Content Formats Supported Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8.
Documentation Quick Start Guide(included in box); Kindle User's Guide (pre-installed on device)
Warranty and Service 1-year limited warranty and service included. Optional 2-year Extended Warranty available for U.S. customers sold separately. Use of Kindle is subject to the terms found here.
Included in the Box Kindle Fire device, U.S. power adapter (supports 100-240V), and Quick Start Guide.