On Monday, Amazon said that the Kindle Fire Android-based tablet began shipping out to customers, just one day earlier than previously announced. Amazon didn't provide a reason for the early release although previous reports claimed that the online retailer jacked up the number of units ordered from suppliers to meet the high demand. Amazon may simply need to move product early in order to get more in.
"We’re thrilled to be able to ship Kindle Fire to our customers earlier than we expected. Kindle Fire quickly became the bestselling item across all of Amazon.com, and based on customer response we’re building millions more than we’d planned," said Dave Limp, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. "Customers are excited about Kindle Fire because it is a premium product at the non-premium price of only $199."
Taking the Kindle Fire's place on Amazon's Tuesday shipment schedule will be the initial batch of the new $99 Kindle Touch and the $149 Kindle Touch 3G e-readers, launching several days earlier than the previously announced November 21 shipping date. Like the Kindle Fire, Amazon didn't provide a real reason for the early launch, but instead indicated that the company wanted all three devices out on the market before consumers go on a spending spree on Black Friday (November 25).
"We’ve seen great excitement over our new line of electronic ink Kindles – in fact, sales of our electronic ink Kindles are more than double any previous Kindle launch," said Dave Limp, Vice President, Kindle. "Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G are the most full-featured e-readers available with a beautiful latest generation electronic ink display, fast page turns and long battery life. They both also include features you won’t find anywhere else like deep integration of audiobooks from Audible.com, text to speech, our new technologies EasyReach and X-ray, and for Prime Members, free access to over 5,000 books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library."
Yet despite all the hype surrounding Amazon's new Kindle Fire "Gingerbread" tablet, consumers shouldn't expect an iPad killer for $199. Numerous outlets like CNET, Engadget and PC Magazine have already provided mixed reviews on the device, much of which claim the tablet is somewhat sluggish at times, or complain that it only features one button and doesn't have extra features like GPS or an option for removable storage.
"Amazon’s Kindle Fire is a snappy tablet that hides Android’s warts, serves up the e-commerce giant’s various services and is built for consumption," ZDNet writes. "And oh by the way, it’s highly likely that you’ll buy more stuff from Amazon while you’re at it."
"The biggest issues are its paltry storage (only 8GB of storage--with no expansion slot), lack of Bluetooth, and dearth of parental controls," CNET says. "Screen brightness could be better, and the app selection doesn't match Apple's or Google's (at least for now). Also, you'll need an Amazon Prime subscription to take advantage of some of the more-unique features."
"The Amazon Kindle Fire puts the Apple iPad on notice," says PC Magazine. "The Fire is the first small tablet that average users can pick up and immediately use, with a simple, clear interface. Then there's the price: Android along with amazing specs for just $199. It's open enough to attract geeks, too."
Here's a list of reviews that have appeared so far: