Amazon’s first tablet hit by (un)friendly fire

November 17, 2011

Amazon.com Inc’s first tablet computer, the $199 Kindle Fire, shipped on Nov 14 and many consumers have been testing the new device and sharing their initial thoughts on the review section of the company’s web site.

The Kindle Fire gets four stars out of five – the average rating of more than 550 reviews as of Wednesday evening.

Several customers wrote that the Internet browser is slow. That surprised some because Amazon has been touting its new Silk browsing technology, which uses the company’s massive cloud computing resources to speed up the loading of web pages.  

There was also some grumbling about the software and user interface, which responds more slowly than expected, according to some customers.  

Amazon spokeswoman Kinley Pearsall said that the Silk browser will get faster as more customers use it. “Expect it to continue to get faster in the coming weeks,” she added. The technology is designed to learn which web sites users visit often.

An Amazon customer calling himself Trevett from Astoria, Oregon gave the Kindle Fire four stars out of five and wrote that the device has “a few flaws.” This was rated the most-useful review as of Wednesday afternoon.

“Amazon advertises ‘ultra fast web browsing’ using Amazon’s Silk browser. It is based off of technology that is designed to increase page loading times by pre-fetching part of the content. Sounds like a great idea, but doesn’t work as well in practice,” Trevett wrote.

“I tried out the Fire on several different connections and compared page loading times with other devices (all connected wirelessly). The Fire was one of the slowest. Amazon’s own web page, which has actually recently been optimized to work with the Fire, takes an average of 7 seconds to load,” he added.

Trevett said he also owns an Apple iPad and a Motorola Xoom, which both loaded pages much faster than the Kindle Fire. Check out the review here.

Trevett said he liked the Fire’s interface, but added that it does not work as well as the Xoom, which also runs on a version of Google’s Android operating system.

“Occasionally I would try to make a page turn and have it not register on the Fire, or have it register more slowly than I am used to. If you have a lot of experience with the iPad, you are going to notice that the software doesn’t respond as quickly on the Fire as it does with other tablets,” he wrote.

Peter Rojas , founder of gadget review web site Engadget and CEO of a new review site called gdgt.com, said he’s seen some discussion of the browser issue. Here’s one thread from gdgt.com that Rojas shared with Reuters: http://gdgt.com/discuss/first-impressions-of-the-kindle-fire-hcr/

“It’s hard to tell how much all this will affect sales, but I think it will probably give those who were on the fence and waiting for these initial reviews pause,” Rojas said.

Scot Wingo, CEO of e-commerce company ChannelAdvisor and a self-proclaimed gadget geek, gave the Kindle Fire a C grade for Web browsing on Wednesday.

“Text-based sites were snappy, graphic heavy seemed very slow to me – could be a settings issue or maybe Silk will get smarter with time? Example – just loaded cnbc.com and it took 25 seconds?” Wingo wrote. “With all the hype around the Silk browser, I was expecting it to be much much faster.”

2 comments

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People need to turn off flash in the browser… If you have used any android device you have to have flash set to on demand if you want pages to load quickly… Its nice to have flash, but only when needed.

For example cnbc.com can have 3+ LARGE flash ads, heck it takes almost 15seconds to load on my core i5 w/ 4Gb ram! And it loads the desktop version of the sites most of the time… Loading the same site with the ipad loads no flash, no animation, and by default the mobile version…

-Dan

Posted by danstl | Report as abusive

The Kindle Fire is not an Apple iPad which begs the question: Why would anyone want one when Apple has a beautiful, magical, easy-to-use, and social-status-boosting iPad.

Apple is the innovator, not the imitator like Xoom, Playbook, and Fire.

Posted by FlamingLiberal | Report as abusive