Dennis D. McDonald (ddmcd@outlook.com) is an independent consultant located in Alexandria Virginia. His services and capabilities are described here. Application areas include project, program, and data management; market assessment, digital strategy, and program planning; change and content management; social media; and, technology adoption. Follow him on Google+. He also publishes on CTOvision.com and aNewDomain.

A Mixed Review for Amazon’s New 7” Kindle Fire

A Mixed Review for Amazon’s New 7” Kindle Fire

I’ve had a new 7 inch Kindle Fire for a couple of weeks now and have formed an opinion about the device.

First, some background.  I had a first generation Kindle Fire tablet for three years. Due to declining battery performance and a loose power cable connector I began looking to repair or replace it.  Since the new Fire was priced below what repairs would have cost — $49.99 for the new Fire direct from Amazon — a decision to purchase “new” was a no brainer.

Second, my “use cases” for this device are fairly straightforward. I read Kindle books as well as documents I email from the web or my computer for later reading. I also watch an occasional Amazon Prime, Netflix, or HBO Go movie.

As far as these use cases are concerned the new Kindle 7 inch Fire performs well and is even lighter than the old one.  I like it especially given its low cost. 

But if someone really thinks this device can substitute for an iPhone or a higher performing Android tablet, some disappointments are going to emerge.

Keep in mind my use cases when you read the following.  I don’t expect this device to seriously replace a better tablet so it’s not really fair to evaluate it at that level.  There are few things to keep in mind, though, as you contemplate slapping down your $49.99:

  1. App store. The Kindle app store is severely limited compared with Apple’s and Google Play.  Amazon is making a huge collection of games available — many for free — but the numerous absences are frustrating. For example, there’s no native Instagram app in the Kindle app store, nor is there a separate Gmail or Google+ app there. For those you have to configure the native Silk browser via bookmarks. (see next comment).
  2. Browser. The Silk browser is much improved over its first rendition but it does experience an occasional stutter or lag.  Performance-wise it’s adequate but in no way does it perform as smoothly or snappily as a Safari or Chrome on the iPhone or iPad.
  3. Cameras. The front and rear cameras are barely adequate. The less said about them the better.
  4. Display. The display itself is adequate. Resolution shows some pixilation of small text or tiny objects.  Color and brightness are very good. I have no issues with reading or movie watching.
  5. Wireless.  Wireless performance is noticeably better than the old Kindle especially in terms of locking on and keeping its signal connected.
  6. Touch screen performance may not be quite as good as the old Kindle Fire.  It appears that “hot spots” for touch activation of links, buttons, and other active objects are not as sensitive or as well defined as with devices such as the iPhone or the iPad.  It’s my impression that slightly more “hunting” around a spot is needed, and this leads to mistakes.

I like using a variety of devices so I am sensitive when I go from one to another.  I’m still surprised, for example, that the Kindle software on my iPhone is actually smoother and more responsive than the Kindle book software on this new device. Not by much, granted, but it is noticeable.

Still, when you think about it getting a tablet computer like this for $50.00 it’s an amazing deal.  10 years ago such a low cost and versatile device would have been a miracle.

But it is 2015 now. Being “adequate” might be a meaningful business strategy but the inclusion of so many underwhelming “standard” tablet features inevitably could attract comparison with (better performing and more expensive) competitors.

A good question is, who is this device designed for?  I’m sure the market is huge as a media consumption device which is why I have it and happily use it.  But those who seriously want to use it as a more general purpose device may want to look elsewhere given the limitations of the Amazon infrastructure when it comes to general purpose mobile computing.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D. I’m a Washington DC area management consultant. My services include preproposal research and analysis, proposal development and costing, marketing and sales support, project and program management including PMO setup and administration, project work plan development, and resource planning. Reach me by phone at 703-402-7382 or by email at ddmcd@yahoo.com.My website is here:www.ddmcd.com.

Too Much TV!

Too Much TV!

Understanding the Challenges of Big Data Project Management: “The Data Must Flow”

Understanding the Challenges of Big Data Project Management: “The Data Must Flow”