Tuesday, Amazon will untie the bow on its long-anticipated iPad competitor, the Kindle Fire. While no company to date has been able to make so much as a dent in Apple's iron grip on the tablet market, Amazon isn't your everyday manufacturer, and the Kindle Fire isn't your average tablet. Unlike Motorola, Samsung, HTC and every other major company to rush an iPad clone onto store shelves, Amazon took its time — and perhaps most importantly, it opted to rethink what consumers might really need in a tablet, playing to the iPad's few weaknesses. Instead of rehashing the winning appeal of Apple's wonder slate, Amazon took its winning e-reader formula and applied it to a more tablet-like device. So what does the Amazon Kindle Fire have to offer that the ubiquitous iPad doesn't? Read on — you might be surprised.
1. Unbeatable price
If Apple knows how to build a gadget to make it irresistible, Amazon knows how to price one. The iPad's universal appeal is no secret, but its starting price of $499 still leaves budget-minded buyers in the lurch. That's quite a chunk of change to throw down for what many consumers are sure to consider something of an experiment in computing — and Amazon is well aware of that. At an astoundingly low $199, the Fire is less than half of the price of the iPad 2, but that doesn't mean it's a sacrifice. From e-reading to casual gaming, the tablet has the computing chops to execute most common tablet computing activities with grace, all for a fraction of the iPad's price.
2. 7" screen size
The iPad created the mold when it comes to tablets, but the Kindle Fire might just break that in more ways than one — literally. While we've come to accept 10" as the standard screen size for a slate device, that might just be because most iPad copycats mimic the iPad's good looks — and its size. With the Kindle Fire, Amazon wants to prove that a 7" screen isn't too small — and in fact, in terms of portability and keeping the price down, it might just be an advantage. The newest member of the Kindle family is lighter too — at less than a pound (14.6 ounces), it's more portable than even the super svelte iPad 2. According to Amazon, the Kindle Fire is "small enough to fit in your purse and light enough to hold in just one hand" — a distinction that makes a big difference, especially when it comes to e-reading.
3. Amazon behind the wheel
Amazon is its own biggest asset. Apple boasts a wealth of software and hardware intended to work together seamlessly on its devices, but as the world's biggest online retailer, Amazon's got a whole wealth of resources right at its fingertips...and right at yours. The Kindle Fire is a clever little portal into Amazon's realm of online shopping, both for digital content and the kind of stuff you'd order and watch show up in the mail. And thanks to a heavily customized Android user interface, the Fire has Amazon's own app store, music, books, and marketplace front and center — a boon if you're already plugged into the retailer's sprawling virtual empire.
Beyond its more tangible features, Amazon is a huge advantage for the Kindle Fire in terms of brand recognition. There are more Android tablets out there than you can shake a stick at these days, but Amazon's Kindle brand is a name consumers know and trust; the Kindle's success to date will tell you that much. While the Fire is built on top of Android, it's Amazon through and through — and that's a good thing.
4. Unlimited cloud storage
Apple may have its iCloud syncing service and iTunes Match out of the gate, but Amazon's got something else sweet on offer. The web retail giant offers free cloud storage for anything you buy through the device, so filling up its 8GB of built-in storage isn't a concern at all. And now that Amazon's deep in the digital content game, that means any books, movies, music, and apps you buy on the Kindle Fire will be stored in the cloud and available for streaming or downloading over wifi. Amazon's cloud will both provide you a safety net should you lose your stored media, and free up your on-board storage for more good stuff.
5. Nonstop streaming
You might be more familiar with Amazon Prime as a speedy way to watch stuff you order online materialize at your doorstep, but the premium service also has a clever tie-in with the new tablet. You'll get a month of free Prime with the purchase of a Kindle Fire, which not only means free two-day shipping for most anything in Amazon's vast virtual catalog, but also unlimited streaming access to 10,000 movies and TV shows, as well as borrowed ebooks through the Kindle Lending Library. If you get hooked, you can subscribe for $79 annually and continue to spoil yourself.
What do you think? Will you be picking up Amazon's new wallet-friendly tablet, are you sticking with the iPad, or are you still not quite sure if you need a tablet at all?
This article originally appeared on Tecca
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