Help a Wishy-washy technophile
February 14, 2012 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Ipad vs Fire. We had this question which is related but not directly to mine.

My wife has some interest in the Kindle fire. I understood from that thread that the ipad was a better experience, and that the Kindle was a Amazon buying appliance.There are two things that won't let this go for me.

1. I have discover points that I was saving for an ipod touch, which I no longer want. These points would cover the cost of the fire.
2. Happy wife, happy life. Although she hasn't mentioned it lately she may be over it.

Data point we both have compaq laptops - Vista and W7.

tl:dr Ipad vs. Fire. Go
posted by notned to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you say anything about what your wife will be using the Fire or iPad for? Watching movies, doing e-mail, playing games, reading books? We'll be able to give you better information if we know how she expects to use it.

Personally I think the Fire is a great device. But that's not saying much in a vacuum.
posted by alms at 9:05 AM on February 14, 2012

Beyond cost and operating system preferences, one of the largest factors will be size. The iPad is big and comparatively heavy, the Fire is has a smaller screen but is lighter and easier to hold for long periods.

Does she prefer paperbacks to hardcover books? For reading, the smaller size of the Fire can make a lot of sense. For other uses, size and weight may not matter as much.
posted by bonehead at 9:12 AM on February 14, 2012

I might not be able to help since I'm in the same boat, but maybe sharing some of my indecision will help you decide what's important for you.

Are you already committed to the Apple ecosystem in other ways? I keep considering buying a Fire (it's cheap!), but then I realize that I'd have to figure out which apps are compatible with the data in my iPhone and manage two different clouds and then I decide I'd rather wait for the next iPad release to make a decision.

Ultimately, I suspect it's going to be "both" at one point or another for me. I really like the form factor of my e-ink Kindle, and my wife's iPad seems kind of like a significant size increase. But then I love the smart cover technology on the iPad, and putting a case on the Kindle would eliminate some of the size benefit.

But then I'm totally wed to the Kindle book platform at this point, and the Kindle app doesn't have all the features as the dedicated readers, so is $200 cheap enough to justify a LCD book reader?
posted by Kyol at 9:13 AM on February 14, 2012

Just bear in mind that a new iPad is coming out next month. It wouldn't hurt to wait until media blitz for that starts before you make the choice. If your wife was more or less swayed by advertising towards the Kindle the same could happen with the latest ipad.
posted by Muu at 9:16 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have both. I got the iPad2 first and then a Kindle Fire. When I got the Fire, I forced myself to use it as my only tablet outside of work. Mostly, I did this because I work in web technology and needed to know what life was like as a Fire native.

The Fire is fine as an e-reader that does some web stuff. For apps and web surfing, it feels incredibly limiting. The app selection through the Fire store is poor and many apps are just cheesy links to mobile sites. The Facebook and Twitter apps are links to the mobile sites which feel oddly out of scale in a 7" form. Web sites are caught in this awkward in between state. Too big for mobile, too small for desktop. Most of the tablet based designs assume iPad and are also awkward on the Fire.

The iPad is much more mature. I breathe a sigh of relief when I go back to it. The app store is huge and has better first rate apps in it. Sites designed for it are frequent and often well done. Desktop sites on it are amazingly good. The Kindle App on iOS is mostly as good as the Fire. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some limitations, but the one I was aware of, magazine restrictions on non-Kindle devices, was eliminated in the last update.

In short, I hate my Fire, but I still use it to take notes in Evernote in meetings. I like being able to test our work on it. I love my iPad and would wait until the next refresh to decide between the iPad2 and Apple's next device.
posted by advicepig at 9:29 AM on February 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'm far from tech savvy, but I'm in the process of making the same decision. I was disappointed to discover that Kindle Fire does not offer a 3G version like it does on Kindle (though it makes sense, I guess... the only reason they offer 3G on Kindle is because it would be impossible to use much data on it.) I had really hoped to use the Fire as an all-purpose reader, net surfer and app device.

So then I looked into iPad, and while I might have been willing to shell out the additional bucks up front to get 3G capability, I'm not willing to pay 40 bucks a month for yet another data plan.

So I guess I'm going with the Fire and just be sad about the limited internet capability.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:33 AM on February 14, 2012

For me it's neither, which isn't terribly helpful here, but I still have a few things for you to consider: What does she want it for? If she's an Amazon Prime member it's super easy to watch videos on the Fire, plus she'd get the one free book per month benefit, too. That can be nice.

Personally I have a Kindle Keyboard because I don't want to hold a heavy thing for a long time while I read, and don't want to watch videos etc. on a hand-held device so for me it's all a wash. Context: I have (and love) an iPhone, so I'm pretty married to the whole apple apps store, but even then I don't want an iPad largely because of the size/weight. It's glossy, but I wouldn't want to read off of it.
posted by clone boulevard at 9:38 AM on February 14, 2012

One thing that's nice about 3G on the iPad is that it isn't a long term contract. So you can sign up for a month that you are travelling and turn it off again when you get home.
posted by advicepig at 9:38 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I own a 3G iPad 2, and I've never once regretted buying it. I also haven't ever caught myself complaining that it's too light, or too thin. A coworker brings in his Kindle Fire all the time, and my first reaction upon seeing it is that it's small and chunky in comparison.
posted by emelenjr at 9:44 AM on February 14, 2012

I've gotten past the 3G issue on my Fire by connecting it to the Mobile Hotspot on my iPhone. It's only minorly clunky, and I only do it for app access and downloading content, because the web browser on the Fire is awful. Just crap.

I like the Fire very much for books, though I do still miss the side buttons to turn pages (instead, you get a greasy smear across your book from flipping) and an external volume controller. I also like it a lot for Netflix/Hulu. I have bad wrists and would not be able to comfortably read with an iPad without something to help me hold it.

That said, I'd probably prefer the iPad for just about everything else.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:07 AM on February 14, 2012

If you are worried about only being able to read books from Amazon you might have a look at the Nook Color. Does all the same things (as far as I know I've never actually had my hands on a Fire so only going on what I've heard from my hubby) and you are not limited to Amazon for buying books. Of course on the other hand even if the Fire is basically an Amazon buying device, Amazon has a lot of stuff to buy which is a point in it's favour.

Another option is to get her the cheaper kindle or Nook touch if she is looking for something to mainly read books on (they are smaller and I find the eink easier to read) and then get her an iPad later, especially if you aren't 100% sure she still wants one. Also, just my 2c worth as a woman whose husband insists I use the technology he likes and had to fight to be able to just have an eReader instead of an iPad, if she wants a Fire get her the Fire.
posted by wwax at 10:23 AM on February 14, 2012

> and you are not limited to Amazon for buying books.

If you have a regular Kindle or a Fire you are NOT limited to buying books from Amazon.
posted by dgeiser13 at 10:36 AM on February 14, 2012

I use my iPad at home only. (Great for browsing, apps, too big IMHO to carry outside without feeling like its a portfolio)

I bring my Fire whenever I'm outside. Great for light browsing, reading.
posted by wongcorgi at 10:53 AM on February 14, 2012

OP back again.
"Can you say anything about what your wife will be using the Fire or iPad for?"

She was interested in some kind of reader app that could read the books to her. She likes games. I'd be more interested in Prime/movies.

I was just there and saw Watch Now/ Download. I'd be interested in the download option. But apparently not everything downloads. Could someone explain this?
posted by notned at 11:34 AM on February 14, 2012

Oh, I see Prime doesn't let you download. *disappointed*
posted by notned at 11:36 AM on February 14, 2012

I was in a similar situation not too long ago. Kindle Fire, or iPad 2. My advice would be to wait for the iPad 3 to come out(most likely March 2012) and I will explain why.

For me, the big reason to get a tablet is watching video(netflix, huluplus, HBO Go, etc). IMO, the Kindle Fire's screen is too small when compared to the iPad. At this point I wrote the fire off.

I own a Kindle for ebooks and I love it, I really dislike reading on non e-ink screens so I knew I wasn't going to use either the fire or the iPad for books. However the option to read all your kindle books is available on both devices. If you want to play games, the selection is far better on the iPad and again the screen is bigger.

You like movies, your wife is into reading and games? Sounds like an iPad would be perfect for both of you.

I suggest you wait a few weeks for the iPad 3 because you can either pick up the brand new model(at presumably the same price you'd be paying for an iPad 2 now) or decide you don't need whatever new features they add and buy either a used iPad 2 or a reduced price iPad 2 from Apple.
posted by Funky Claude at 11:53 AM on February 14, 2012

I'm not willing to pay 40 bucks a month for yet another data plan

You mean $15-$30?

Nothing I've seen comes anywhere close to the iPad 2. It's as close to a life-changing device as I've had. After a year, it still feels like some kind of sci-fi magic clipboard. I expected to see something like this when I was 83, not when I was 33. The size is perfect for me and I walk with it about 15 miles a week. It's basically replaced my laptop, novels, cookbooks, magazines, newspaper, paper maps, GPS and big screen viewing, video game console and notebooks.

Apps and specs aside, the thing about other tablets is that they just don't feel effortless the way the iPad does. Since about 75% of what I do on it is pure leisure type stuff, the iPad's transparency is really critical to my enjoyment. I've never used another piece of electronics that felt like that, iPhone included. Even if I were just using it as a reader, it's what I'd choose.

As an engineer and linux-y all-round geek I like to be specific about what makes hardware X better than Y, but in this case all I can says is ZOMFG ITS MAGIC! I wouldn't buy anything else unless I were doing it as some kind of deliberate boycott of Apple. I don't think Google is really any better, though, so if you want to protest, you're kinda stuck with....nothing.
posted by pjaust at 1:07 PM on February 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

And yeah, wait for iPad 3 at this point.
posted by pjaust at 1:08 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I got an iPad 2 a few months ago and I'm with pjaust, it changed a lot of things for me. I hardly use my laptop anymore, and do almost all my surfing, emailing, facebooking, playing games, watching movies, and reading on it, plus a bunch of stuff I never did until I got my iPad. I use my laptop still for gaming. And I don't have a keyboard for my iPad, so if I'm going to do a LOT of writing, I'll sometimes use my computer instead.

I don't find it too heavy, or too anything. I can read books just fine.

I adore it completely and from everything I've seen, I can't imagine feeling this way about the Fire.
posted by upatree at 1:28 PM on February 14, 2012

Some points to consider:

1) There is no text to speech on the fire ... and I don't know of apps for the fire that will do this. If she wants a device to read books to her ( and not dedicated audio books) then a Kindle touch or keyboard or other e-reader would be better. I don't know about iPads capability in this regard. Additionally, the text-to-speech feature on the e-readers takes getting used to as it is a little mechanical, but I use it on my Kindle Keyboard quite a lot and enjoy it.

2) I personally like the 7" size for portability, and have no issues with the web browsing, but you do have to scroll a lot on standard web pages.

3) The Fire is fun to use for games, video streaming, sharing pics (that I put on from my computer), and for reading if you don't mind the backlit screen (I prefer e-ink for reading) ... but it is pretty useless for anything beyond that. There is no camera, no gps, no gyroscope, no storage, no sd card slot. In other words, it is rather limited in its capabilities, and is best thought of as an entertainment tablet.

I bought the Fire for my husband, because all he needs it for is video streaming, or watching videos I put on it, when we are traveling. I use it for games and web browsing ... but a more powerful tablet with above mentioned features is more suitable to my own needs.

If you can somehow let her play around with each device at a store or via friends, that might help you decide.
posted by batikrose at 1:49 PM on February 14, 2012

Taking into account the combination of uses you describe, I'd probably get both a black-and-white Kindle (for e-ink and read out loud feature, the lightness and the super long battery) and either an Ipad or a Fire. The cost of a black and white ereader is so low now. And if (as it sounds like) you and your wife both want to do some games, movies and stuff, you can swap the devices back and forth. My husband and I have black and white and color Nooks that we share. There would be bloody battles every day if we had only one e-reader.

As far as Ipad versus Kindle Fire-- well, try them both out. I think you can install the Kindle app on the Ipad, no? I am ecstatic with the Nook Tablet (similar to the Fire) and like the size better than the Ipad's 10", but a lot of people feel the opposite.
posted by BibiRose at 2:18 PM on February 14, 2012

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