Sales of the Kindle Fire have really been heating up. I've been playing with the popular gadget and I'm ready to answer that all-important holiday question: Should you buy or not?
Let me start by saying the Kindle Fire is a nice machine, but it's not the greatest. Among the pros and cons, to my mind, are the following:
- Great price. The Fire is priced at $199 versus $400 to $500 for a base model iPad2.
- Compact size. It's small enough to fit in a purse or jacket. The 7-inch screen size makes it more likely that you'll take it with you through your day than an iPad.
- Great video capability. Whether you're streaming video from Amazon Prime, NetFlix or Hulu, it provides a fine viewing experience.
- Mediocre web surfing. Unfortunately, there is no unfettered access to the Android marketplace.
It's important to note that the Kindle Fire is not intended to compete with the iPad 2 or any Android tablet. The real purpose of the Fire is to get you more into the Amazon ecosystem so you can buy more stuff from them.
It even comes with a teaser membership for Amazon's loyalty program, Amazon Prime, which allows you to get free movie downloads, free two-day shipping on most Amazon orders and now even free e-book lending (including New York Times bestsellers.)
Simply put, the Fire is a vessel to create more e-commerce for Amazon. As a machine, to surf and check e-mail, it is adequate, but not sizzling. However, the price is sizzling, which is why its selling millions.
So in my final summation, it's a good machine. I would even think it great if I wasn't spoiled by my wife's iPad 2!
Editor's note: This segment originally aired Dec. 5, 2011