After perusing the various Kindle Fire reviews… I’ve suddenly lost interest. I obviously need to hit a Best Buy or Target and for some first hand tablet impressions, but my expectations of Amazon were probably too high. At the end of the day, what we’re dealing with is a skinned version of Android running on largely recycled hardware. Of course, going in, we knew that. Yet I’d hoped Amazon would transform the experience in more notable, integrated, and polished ways. Oh they’ll still sell a ton given Amazon’s exposure, via their own site and retail partners, and amazingly wallet friendly pricing ($199). But this gadget-loving Amazon Prime member who makes Kindle purchases is most likely sitting this one out (while continuing to pine for an Amazon Instant app on devices other than the Fire).
But if not the Fire, then what? For the interim, I’m sticking with my smartphone and second generation Kindle (while sneaking occasional usage from my wife’s iPad). But there are those interested in economical tablets 7″ tablets. Barnes & Noble is refreshing their Nook Color as the Nook Tablet ($250) with a more distinctive look and beefier specs than the Kindle Fire offers. Like Amazon, they’re skinning Android mostly beyond recognition… but at this point B&N has a year more experience in ‘droid development and are also expanding their third party app ecosystem (to include familiar faces like Netflix). Like its predecessor, I expect you’ll be able to run stock Android off SD card should you so choose. And with Ice Cream Sandwich source code released, it may get even better. Speaking of a more traditional Android experience, the Lenovo IdeaPad A1 has been priced in the $200 – $250 range. The specs aren’t impressive, but it includes a front facing camera for video chat and 4 case hues to choose amongst.