Amazon Kindle Fire vs. iPad 2

Which tablet is right for you?

Media outlets have touted the Amazon Kindle Fire as a potential iPad killer, but is the Amazon device really a threat to Apple's powerful tablet? Here's a look at both the Amazon Kindle Fire and the iPad 2, what each does well, and how these devices differ, to help you decide which device family is right for you.

The original Kindle Fire and the iPad 2 were released in 2011. While newer models are on the scene, we're comparing the basic functionality of these two devices.

Kindle Fire vs iPad 2

Overall Findings

Kindle Fire
  • Designed for media consumption.

  • Comes with a month of Amazon Prime at no extra cost.

  • Smaller display size than iPad 2.

  • Cannot link to a TV.

  • Stream movies from Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, and Netflix.

  • Access to vetted apps from the Amazon Appstore.

  • Relatively low price tag.

iPad 2
  • Higher price tag.

  • Access books for Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books.

  • Larger Retina display with a higher screen resolution.

  • Offers global positioning system (GPS), Bluetooth, and (optionally) a 4G network.

  • Connects directly to a TV to stream video, music, and photos.

  • Play high-end games.

The Amazon Kindle Fire was designed from the ground up to be a media-consumption device, and it does a great job of this at a low price. Since it doesn't have the e-ink technology found on other Kindle devices, the Kindle Fire isn't a pure e-reader. While you may not be able to read books in direct sunlight, the Kindle Fire's other functions make it a powerful choice in the Amazon ecosystem.

Kindle Fire comes with a free month of Amazon Prime to try out movie-watching on the device. Some newer promotions include three free months of Amazon Prime, so be sure to check the latest offers.

The iPad is pricier but more full-featured. It has a higher screen resolution, access to a variety of e-book formats, GPS, Bluetooth, and more.

Since the iPad is basically a mini-computer, direct comparisons to the Amazon Kindle Fire aren't fair. But you may not need all the bells and whistles of the iPad, so it's important to understand each device's capabilities and compare these devices to what you need.

Media Consumption: Kindle Fire Puts Up a Good Fight

Kindle Fire
  • Designed for media consumption.

  • Good variety of streaming access.

  • Smaller screen.

  • Not as good an e-reader as other Kindles.

iPad 2
  • Connect the device directly to a TV.

  • Display size and resolution are great for watching movies.

  • Direct streaming capabilities.

The Kindle Fire has excellent screen resolution, so it's great for watching movies. While its display resolution falls short of the iPad's capabilities, since the Kindle Fire's display is smaller, you likely won't notice any difference in picture quality.

The Kindle Fire supports streaming movies from Netflix and Hulu Plus, and you can rent or purchase a movie from Amazon. While the sound and picture quality are both good, you can't connect the Kindle Fire directly to a TV.

The iPad isn't a media-consumption device only. Rather, it takes aim at the netbook and laptop market. Still, its media capabilities are outstanding. Watching movies on the iPad is engaging, and its larger display makes it easy for more than one person to gather around and watch.

The iPad lets you stream movies from a computer to an iPad, which is great for conserving storage space. Connect your iPad to your TV to watch videos on a bigger display.

Other devices in the Kindle line are better e-readers than the Kindle Fire. Since the iPad and Kindle Fire use full-color backlit displays, both struggle as e-readers in direct sunlight.

Ecosystem: Apple Has More to Offer Than Amazon

Kindle Fire
  • Access to the Amazon Appstore.

  • Good gaming selection.

  • Access to the Kindle Bookstore only.

iPad 2
  • Connect the device directly to a TV.

  • Access to the Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble Nook Books site, and Apple Book Store.

  • Access to all iOS apps.

A huge perk of owning a Kindle Fire is access to the Amazon Appstore. While the apps are a subset of the apps available for other Android tablets, Amazon staff members have reviewed the offerings, so users can rest assured they're not downloading malware or an app that has no resemblance to its description. It also means access to games such as Angry Birds and apps like the Flixster movie app.

But when it comes to ecosystems, it's hard to beat the iPad's access to all the Apple offerings and accessories. With access to the entire array of App Store apps and games, the iPad lets users enjoy more processor-intensive applications as well as take advantage of its vast amount of business apps.

The iPad isn't limited to only the Apple ecosystem. It can access the Kindle Store, the Barnes and Noble Nook Books site, and the Apple Book Store for reading.

Final Verdict: What Do You Want to Do and How Much Do You Want to Spend?

It's no secret that the iPad is a top-notch device and beats the Kindle Fire when it comes to speed, storage space, processing power, abilities, and all the bells and whistles that make an iPad an iPad, including state-of-the-art camera capabilities, GPS, 4G, and Bluetooth. It's a great device for the family; it will entertain the kids and let parents work.

But not everyone needs everything the iPad has to offer, and not everyone wants to shell out big bucks for the device. The Kindle Fire is a bargain, great for reading books, watching movies, listening to music, casual gaming, and light web browsing.

Examine your needs and your budget to figure out what device is right for you.

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