Pretty much every computer I've ever owned has been a Mac (not counting a Commodore 64, one Mac clone and a netbook I hacked to run the Mac OS). But when it comes to mobile devices, I've had many before I first purchased the iPhone 3G. I had a pair of Blackberries and a number of basic cell phones, too. When it comes to tablets, though, I've only owned two iPads: the original and the iPad that came out in April.
That is, until last week, when I picked up the dirt-cheap Kindle Fire for $129 via Amazon.com's Cyber Monday sale.
I figured, for that price, the tiny tablet would be a good iPad backup, and certainly more apt to withstand any drops by the clumsy fingers of a kindergartener. Plus, I was intrigued to see what this Android operating system was all about.
A week later I can report that the Kindle Fire, which costs one-third of an iPad Mini and one-quarter of a full-sized iPad, is no iPad.
It's not even close.
I'm not complaining, because I didn't have especially high expectations for this little tablet. It's thick, heavy and devoid of physical buttons like volume or "home." The screen resolution is poor by today's standards. The speakers are tinny. Web pages are slow and sluggish, and the Fire doesn't render HTML 5 fonts. The modified Android OS is clunky and unintuitive.
Yet, the tablet is useful – once you adjust your expectations.
Most of the apps I use on my iPad and iPhone are actually available for the Kindle, and if they're not, reasonable facsimiles are. So, in a sense, the Fire is a tremendous bargain for someone who wants an iPad but doesn't want to spend $500 (or $350).
But it's not an iPad.
I rarely take for granted the details Apple has baked into its hardware, how iOS has become an extension of the creative process. But after seeing, hands-on, the invention that infuriated the late Steve Jobs because it was such a blatant rip-off, I understand what he meant. The Kindle Fire and the Android language it runs, lack that certain something that makes using them feel ... seamless.
I understand how vague all of this sounds, and that's not an accident. The difference isn't just pixels and processors. It's something more sublime. It's not about being an Apple "fanboy," either. I bought this Kindle Fire expecting a bargain-basement tablet, and for its price, it's amazing. It's certainly more than half as good as the iPad Mini.
But for me, mobile computing is about the entire experience. The details matter when it comes to my productivity and my creativity.
And so I'll use the Kindle Fire. But only when the iPad is otherwise occupied or out of juice.
Try both and tell me you don't agree.
kindle owners know exactly what they are missing.. nobody expects a 150 dollar item to perform as well as a 600 dollar one. The need for this article is completely nonexistant. How about a review of the Ipad verses an equally powerful tablet like the Galaxy Tab 2?
I'm shocked that the ebook, that doubles as a weak tablet, and costs 1/3rd the price isn't as good as your ipad mini...
You know, come to think of it.. the Toyota Carolla I owned wasn't nearly as good as my BMW 535is, equally shocking, right?
3 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published Feb. 18, 2015
Doctors are very clear with their warnings that alcohol will not warm you up in the dead of winter. So, obviously, unless you have a Saint Bernard with a little flask of brandy, you should not drink to thaw yourself out during these subzero temperatures in Milwaukee right now. You may, however, drink to take your mind off winter. And it being Bar Month, we tracked down some excellent cocktail recipes from our sponsor brands.
Published Feb. 18, 2015
Karen Leahy, a CPA and Milwaukee native, doesn't really talk about her other career - something she's been doing straight through since the '80s. "I'd rather be known for brains than beauty," says Leahy, who is also a successful part-time model. "I should have been a boy," she says, nuzzling her dog in her chic Downtown condo. "I like cars, sports and sex."
Published Feb. 9, 2015
As we trudge through another winter, thinking we've got it the worst - and we hear about it the most on TV - industry insiders say that's not quite right. Everyone, everywhere complains about their city's weather and its weather coverage. Yet for the most part, every TV station reports on it the same way. Here's an in-depth look at the changing face of Milwaukee weather.
Published Feb. 3, 2015
There aren't many bars in Milwaukee where no money changes hands, you don't order your own drinks and all of the imbibing goes on in the middle of the day. But that's the world of Lisa Semerad, a bartender at the Miller Inn, the last stop on the Miller Brewery Tour at 4251 W. State St. Her customers are always in a great mood, and for Semerad, Miller is a family tradition. No wonder she loves her job.
Published Feb. 3, 2015
I remember helping a friend out in college after his grandmother died, and one of our tasks was going through her old photos and deciding what to keep and what to toss. This was a really sad task, and I felt like I was intruding on someone's life, throwing away memories that meant nothing to me. What will it be like for our generation?
Published Jan. 6, 2015
I remember back in college, I came to the realization that several different versions existed of me. Those different versions of me continue to this day, but nowhere are they more pronounced than on social media. I embraced Twitter long before Facebook and Instagram, but now active on all three, you'll experience a totally different Andy Tarnoff if you only look in one place.
Published Dec. 30, 2014
These year-end lists are always fun to write, because they are so open-ended. So bear with me if I skip the regular categories and think outside the box a little for this one.
Published Dec. 29, 2014
As you can imagine, it's not easy being a four-season bike shop in a state where it's possible to see snow on the ground for eight months out of the year. But Steve Whitford, co-owner of South Shore Cyclery in Cudahy, says he knows no other way.
Published Dec. 22, 2014
I remember vividly how hard school was. Not just the homework, but the routine of waking up early, navigating its social intricacies. Granted, my daughter is only in K5, but still, she works hard - so I like to reward her with plenty of family fun when seasonal school vacations come around.
Published Dec. 17, 2014
Yesterday, I walked around Packard Avenue in Cudahy for the first time in a long time. I mean, I drive through or around Cudahy all the time, but yesterday was different. I stopped to smell the roses. Every real Milwaukeeans should pay a visit to downtown Cudahy every now and then. It's like a window into our past, and it's still alive and kicking today.