I’ve been the owner of a Kindle Fire for just about 12 hours now so I don’t have a lot of experience, but my initial reaction — overall — is that it’s the wrong size.
At the risk of being called a fanboy (or even fanboi) I think Steve Jobs was right about 7″ tablets not being a good size. (Now watch them come out with one…) Here’s why:
If I’m in a “mobile” situation, stopped at a red light, standing in line, etc., my iPhone is the perfect size. And if I’m in a “settled” situation like sitting in bed or on the couch, I’d rather have the large screen of the iPad.
The middle size of the Fire is too large for mobile and too small for stationary.
As far as usability goes, it’s fine. There are some stuttering and things that happen that make me realize I take don’t notice the smoothness of the iPad and/or iOS until it’s gone. And while I don’t know what the actual weight is, it feels heavier than my iPad with the case. Maybe the Fire feels heavy because it’s too big to grip comfortably in one hand, and the bezel is too small to hold comfortably that way.
I bought the Kindle because I need the device to be able to test my games on it, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered. It’s not a bad device, but if you need a tablet and can possibly swing it (price wise) go ahead and get an iPad.
Update Jan 14, 2012
A few days later and I may need to rethink my opposition to the size of the Fire. Since then I’ve used it several times each day and even carried it with me on one outing instead of the iPad (okay, I had the iPad in the car just in case, but didn’t touch it).
When the iPad came out people claimed it was a “consumption device” and not suitable for creating content or doing real work. That idea has been knocked completely out of the ballpark but I’d say that description is a good one for the Kindle Fire.
Reading books, watching movies, playing games — those things all work fine. But I wouldn’t want to have to update a web site, type more than a short email, etc., on a Kindle Fire. I can take my iPad to a coffee shop for a few hours and get a lot of actual work done — that’s not the kind of thing you’d want to do with a Fire.
I still find the size awkward and the web browser is too small to really use for “browsing”, but as an extra tablet it’s nice to have around.