When the Kindle Fire was introduced in September 2011, I was thrilled. E-book readers had been, for me, deadly dull affairs up until then. I knew I wasn't going to trade my hardback books in for permanently reading on a tiny screen, but the video, music and web options on the new Kindle Fire "tablet" were just the nudge I needed to try it. Like most other folks that bought that first Fire model, I loved it. It was inexpensive ($199), lightweight, had enough memory for my immediate entertainment needs and compact. The physical design was extremely user friendly and that Kindle Fire became a permanent resident of my purse - "Let's see, keys, wallet, Kindle, yep, I'm ready to go." There were loads of free apps and content on Amazon, and with both an Amazon Prime and a Netflix membership, I was set.
When the larger Kindle Fire was released in 2012, I was immediately sold. Now it's 2013 and there's a new larger, and supposedly improved, Kindle Fire. Guess what, Amazon? I won't be buying one.
I use my two Kindles daily; the smaller one lives in my purse and the larger one travels between my kitchen table and nightstand. They're great - and I don't need another one.
I'm more than slightly offended that Amazon seems to think I do. Instead of building brand loyalty, the push behind the new models is off-putting and contrary to the company's expectations, there won't be a new Kindle Fire under my Christmas tree this year. Here's why.
I don't need a Mayday button. One of the most attractive features of the previous Kindle Fire models is the super low maintenance. I've used Amazon's technical support line exactly twice over the last three years. The new models have a Mayday button that instantly connects users to technical support, 24/7. Are the new models so prone to problems that I'll need a Mayday button? Or does Amazon think I'm too stupid to figure out the touch screen? Either way, no thanks.
Amazon's rush to market that resulted in design flaws in the 2012 models and 2013 will probably be a repeat. An unresponsive on/off button and a sadly misplaced recharge port were actually inconveniences, not improvements. Minor inconveniences, I admit, but guess what? With a new electronic device I expect to have no inconveniences, none. With just one year between releases, there's nothing to say the new models won't have a few snags, too.
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I liked my original Kindle Fire precisely because it wasn't trying to be an i-Pad. The new Kindle Fire HDX model has been upgraded with front and rear cameras capable of taking high-res photos or 1080p HD video. The processor is "ultra-fast," some three times more powerful than the previous generation, according to the product description. It has "console-quality" graphics, supposedly four times better than the previous model, custom Dolby audio and an 18-hour battery life, up from 12-hours. Oh, yeah and the top model costs right at $600. An i-Pad with comparable screen size, storage and wi-fi capabilities costs around $200 more. I can edit video on an i-Pad, not on a Kindle. I can just about replace my laptop with an i-Pad, not with a Kindle. Apple doesn't expect me to buy a new i-Pad every year; Amazon, on the other hand, apparently expects me to buy a new Kindle annually.
I don't need super high-res on a tablet. It's 8.9 inches of viewing space - can I really tell the difference between 1280 x 800 and 2560 x 1600 resolution? In 8.9 inches of viewing space? Really?
I shouldn't have to buy three versions of the same device in as many years. I understand planned obsolescence. But here's what Amazon missed - while I understand it, I don't like it. A lot. Unless there are massive improvements to a product - useful improvements, not just bells and whistles - I can afford to skip two or three versions. I've done that with televisions, video and digital cameras, laptops, even cars. I'm certainly doing that with Kindle Fire.
So sorry Amazon, no sale.