Kindle Fire Tablet: The 3 Biggest Disappointments

Kindle Fire

Yesterday Amazon started taking pre-orders for their much-anticipated new Kindle Fire Tablet. Priced at $199, it is one of the best deals for a budget tablet this fall, but it does lack a few things that keep it from being the hands-down best option.

This will differ for each individual, we all have our own preferences and opinions, but for me the Kindle Fire lacks three really important features that a tablet needs to have.

#1. No memory expansion. There are no memory card slots, and no USB host (it has a mini USB port for transferring files). No matter what you are stuck with the 8GB of storage that it comes with. Sure, the Kindle Fire comes with free cloud storage, but that only applies to Amazon’s content.

#2. No HDMI port. I can’t believe the Kindle Fire with it’s access to 100,000 movies and TV shows doesn’t have an HDMI port. Even crappy sub-$150 tablets like the Pandigital Star have an HDMI out port for connecting to a TV.

#3. The Kindle Fire runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but it is closed off. It’s not like a regular open Android tablet with a customizable homescreen, widgets, Android Market, or any of that. It has Amazon’s customized interface and the Amazon appstore. The Kindle Fire may run Android but it is an Amazon tablet, not an Android tablet (hackers will fix that in about 2 days after its release).

Don’t get me wrong, the Kindle Fire is a good starter tablet for Amazon. It has a lot of nice features, especially the IPS screen and dual-core processor, and will compete with the Nook Color very well, but it certainly isn’t breaking any new ground in the tablet world.

18 Responses to “Kindle Fire Tablet: The 3 Biggest Disappointments”

  1. I agree. The deal breakers for me are:
    1. No Epub
    2. Can’t connect to a computer via USB

    • I’ve got good news for you. It does support EPUB and you can connect it to a computer via USB to transfer files and such. I’ve even heard you can sideload APK files that way. There are a couple of different EPUB reader apps in the Amazon appstore. The best one is Aldiko. When I say it has no USB host I mean you can’t connect external drives to it; it has a mini USB port. Guess I should clarify that…

  2. OH! Then that makes a lot more sense to me!
    I did NOT know it supported Epub though. It didn’t say that in the specs I read.
    Yeah Aldiko is the BEST. I read an earlier post about it on your site and got it. Love it!

  3. Are you sure that Amazon will allow third party e-reading applications?

  4. Since their objective is to discourage easy media consumption from non-Amazon sources, I am only mildly surprised about the lack of the hdmi-out. However, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn’t have HDMI out, and I believe the IPAD doesn’t either. The Galaxy TAB does say “You can share Tab content on your HDTV through the Tablet Extender feature, or stream it wirelessly with Allshare.”

  5. Please show us where it will support epub. The specs I saw clearly did not list epub.

    I am sure you will be able to download a reader that supports epubs, however I do not think the native amazon book reading software will support it.

    If it does not support epubs without downloading a different app than IMHO it does not support epub.

    • The native Kindle app doesn’t support EPUB, but Android apps available through Amazon’s appstore do. If you don’t want to download free apps then no one is going to stop you. But that’s like saying the iPad doesn’t support games just because it doesn’t come with any pre-installed.

  6. It looks pretty nice to me for a starter tablet. Everything I’ve seen up to now under $200 has really been flimsy. I know its not a 10″ screen but I can live with that. I’ll continue to use my nook touch for most of my reading but this will be a nice thing to have for some cool color content, apps, and other media.

  7. Perhaps Amazon will open the system up to the Android apps and such at a later date if they see that ppl really want it (assuming it can be change with a firware update). Maybe they want to test the waters to see how their own apps will go over. I wish they had at least put in another 8gbs of memory since you can’t add any.

  8. Can’t connect to a computer via USB? That’s a bummer

  9. I agree with the article.
    I am wondering what is Amazon strategy. The tablet seems nice to use Amazon products but Amazon doesn’t sell digital videos outside US.
    As a Canadian, the product sucks. I believe that the first purpose is to knock down Barnes Nook color than the ipad which has a world-wide strategy.
    I own a NC and a nook touch – very great products – I rooted them but even the standard set-up for the NC is perfect to read Newspapers and magazines. Thanks to this website.
    I won’t buy any product linked to just one content-provider.
    I want to be free to buy everywhere my books or digital contents. It is easier to buy from itunes with an ipad but it isn’t too difficut to load on your ipad your own digital contents ( music mp4).

  10. “Sure, the Kindle Fire comes with free cloud storage, but that only applies to Amazon’s content.”

    Actually, it’s not just Amazon’s content. According to their Cloud Drive FAQs and info pages, you can upload any digital files to the Cloud for free up to 5GB. Any unaltered Amazon content (like mp3s and such) do not count against the 5GB. Therefore, if the file you uploaded is compatible with the Fire, the Fire will be able to display it.

    I’m wondering about Audible files – since Audible is an Amazon partner, will their .aa files count against the Cloud Drive space as well?

    I think as a bonus for buying the Fire, Amazon should offer more space on the Cloud Drive for free (like 5GB more). Just my .02 – YMMV.

  11. I would think the free trial to Amazon Prime is enough of an incentive. As for being groundbreaking, it was never Amazon’s intent to forge into new frontiers. It’s following the Apple model of creating the simplest device with the most features possible.

    The only place it really breaks ground is the price for a tablet that can deliver that kind of experience. Regular Android tabs are not for everyone.

  12. Nathan, Native support for epubs is not the same as downloading an app that supports epubs. If I have to download a different book reader to support epubs then it is not supported by the Kindle.

    B&N book reader nativly supports epubs.

  13. are there any actually practical reasons for their dis-including the ability to host usb devices, such as jump drives? Or, is it really a sly way for them to squeeze money from people?