Should I wait for the Amazon Kindle Fire?

The Amazon Kindle Fire has lit a fire under the iPad and rival tablets -- but is it worth waiting for?

The Amazon Kindle Fire has lit a fire under the iPad and rival tablets -- but with no UK launch in sight, is it worth waiting for?

The Android-powered Amazon tablet has many of you asking us if you should save your pennies, but it isn't due to go on sale outside the US for some time -- so let's take a closer look to see if you should hold out for the Kindle Fire or opt for another tablet instead.

Worth the money?

We tried out the 7-inch Kindle Fire before its US launch, and we were impressed with how it managed to be stripped down without sacrificing quality. It's not an all-singing, all-dancing direct rival to the iPad or high-end Android tablets, but unlike most wallet-friendly tablets it doesn't skimp on the quality of the screen and processor.

So the hardware is half-decent enough, but that's only half the picture: the tablet is designed for you to enjoy Amazon's music, video, newspapers, magazines, television, ebooks and more online content. It's all streamed to the Kindle Fire via neat custom software that completely transforms Android, with a really tight shopping experience that knocks the iPad and others into a cocked hat.

Unfortunately it's the movies, music and more at the heart of the Kindle Fire experience that are the problem: thanks to the arcane and archaic licensing of such content in different countries, the Kindle Fire's streaming services aren't available here -- and so neither is the Kindle Fire, until the licensing deals can be sorted out.

Which could take a while: it took two years for the original Kindle to cross the pond, and all that did was read ebooks. We'd love it if the Kindle Fire made it to Blighty in the next year, but we're not holding our breath.

We don't know how much Amazon will charge for it, but at less than $200 (£125) in the States the UK price is likely to significantly undercut the iPad and most Android tablets, without making the sacrifices many other budget tablets make.

Worth the wait?

So it's worth the money, but is it worth the wait? With no British launch date in sight, we can't recommend you wait for it to come along -- unless you possess a zen-like level of patience -- when there's a host of similarly sized Android tablets already in shops.

It's not a direct comparison, but until the Kindle Fire arrives you could bag a budget tablet, or a Samsung Galaxy tablet in any size your heart desires, or an oversized smart phone like the Galaxy Note or HTC Sensation XL -- or go posh with an iPad.

Are you going to wait for the Kindle Fire, or will you commit to another device in the meantime? Tell us your thoughts in the comments, on our Facebook page, or at Google+.

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Tablets
About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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