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 â€“ 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 June 28, 2016
In college, I had a reoccurring nightmare that I was trapped on a crazy elevator. Lately, that's been replaced by what I call the "fat finger" dream. I've talked to a few people, including co-worker Molly Synder, who has had it, too.
Published June 27, 2016
OnMilwaukee publisher Andy Tarnoff is very impressed with this year's Summerfest lineup, but he thinks the strongest day for the Big Gig is on July 9. For his money, he's especially excited about Howard Jones and, obviously, Sir Paul McCartney. Here are his picks.
Published June 11, 2016
"It's good to be king." Mel Brooks actually said that, quoting himself, to a sold-out show Saturday night at the Riverside. Based on the remarkable stories, the adoring reception and the super-human energy from this soon-to-be 90-year-old film legend, I believe him.
Published May 7, 2016
I won't lie to you: I know nothing about the current state of professional wrestling. But from 1983 to 1989, from about age 9 to 15, I was a huge fan. So big, in fact, that I wrote a fan letter to WWF announcer "Mean" Gene Okerlund.
Published April 28, 2016
Angry readers, self-righteous writers and surly social media speculators are in a tizzy about an uptick in "clickbait," and in many respects, they have every right to be. In lots of cases, it's a bogus attempt to lure gullible readers, and ultimately, it won't and doesn't work.
Published April 25, 2016
I've known about Mel Brooks' upcoming June 11 visit to Milwaukee for a little while now. Make no mistake, this is a "bucket list" show for me: Brooks is one of my all-time favorites in Hollywood, and "Blazing Saddles" has sat atop my favorite movie list forever.
Published April 15, 2016
For the many dozens of times I've visited the historic Pfister Hotel - for meetings, meals, weddings and drinks - until prepping for OnMilwaukee Hotel Week, I never spent an overnight at this Victorian masterpiece. Cross that off my bucket list - and I didn't even have to meet a ghost to do it.
Published April 14, 2016
As today's the wonderfully-made up "414 Day," or "Milwaukee Day," depending on who you talk to - it's a sexy day to look back at this excellent video from 2014 by the Five Card Studs.
Published April 11, 2016
I've been binge-watching HBO's "Vinyl." During a scene at an L.A. beach party, the camera panned to a sideburned record executive, smoking a joint and talking about Elvis. Even 25 years since I saw him last, I knew immediately that was my friend from high school, Dave Shalansky. I'd recognize that guy anywhere.
Published April 4, 2016
I'm sitting here on Opening Day, in the first row of the press box at Miller Park, and it's quiet. Too quiet. I mean, I can hear the fans in the ventilation over the sound of stands in this not-sold-out stadium. Apparently, other people here are either rolling their eyes in the fifth inning (or they're passed out).