Last week I became the proud owner of a Kindle Fire. I know that in my last post I spoke a few unkind words about Kindles, and so I wanted to write about why I decided to get a Kindle after all.
Here at our house, we are in Debt Assassin mode, so I have very little leeway for discretionary purchases like a tablet. I get a monthly allowance to spend on anything I want, so if I want a new tablet, I have to save up. I decided that I wanted a tablet earlier in the year, and I originally set my eyes on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 which at the time was the Android tablet to get. (I have a blog post coming up about why I prefer Android over iOS…) It is still a very nice dual-core tablet, but as things go in the tech business – and since it took me a while to save up my pennies – technology marches ever forward and I soon switched to wanting the more powerful and more feature-rich ASUS Transformer Prime.
The Transformer Prime is a really, really sweet tablet. It’s a quad-core machine using the Tegra-3 chip, with an amazing 1280x800, ten finger multi-touch screen. It has a flexible, add-on keyboard that effectively turns it into a notebook computer. It even had a fifth core which would do minor tasks like check email and other background tasks while the screen is asleep. It was priced right at that sweet spot of $499. Interest was very, very high in this device, and all the Android blogs and news sites were abuzz with anticipation.
It was supposed to be available just before Christmas, but pre-ordering the device was troublesome. Amazon, which has a very good policy of not taking pre-orders unless it is sure it can deliver them, stop taking pre-orders in late November. Delivery dates for other vendors were unclear. When Amazon did start taking orders again before Christmas, they listed fulfillment as 5-7 weeks out. Clearly ASUS had that good problem you don’t want to have – demand far outstripping their ability to deliver on that demand. As a result, I held off on placing my order.
But then a few hiccups began to occur. I suspect that because it was the first tablet to use the Tegra-3 Quad-core chip, they had some problems with the product. While initial quick-looks were very encouraging, reports started to surface of problems with wireless receptivity and the GPS. Apparently the actual physical design of the case was causing reception problems. These reports didn’t seem to dim interest in the device, however, as it’s still hard to get a hold of one, and as of this writing, Amazon itself isn’t taking orders, instead is is fulfilling the order via a reseller – who currently is jacking up the prices to over $600. FInally, though it was short lived and ASUS pretty quickly backed down, word came out that ASUS had locked the bootloader for the Transformer Prime.
Okay, so given all that, I decided to hold off and see what would happen. ASUS was actually pretty good about acknowledging and fixing the problems, but I decided to defer my gratification (I was pretty jacked up for getting a tablet, and it was hard to wait…..) and let things shake out. But then again, I wanted a tablet now. And of course, as I’m holding off, Google announces their “Google Tablet” and that catches my eye, because I have a Nexus S phone and I’m a big fan of the whole “pure Google” concept. However, that isn’t coming out until the fall. What to do?
Well, I took the advice of one of my co-workers and decided to get the Kindle. His advice was this: Tablets actually can have an impact on your life – you don’t know how it will fit or what role it will play. $500 is a lot to spend to find out, so get the Kindle at $200, find out how tablets work for you, and then save up for the Google tablet or whatever tablet is the “must have” tablet to get when I’m ready to buy. Plus, the Kindle will likely hold it’s value, and I’ll be able to easily sell it when I decide to make the move. In a sense, the Kindle is a “Starter Tablet” for me, and a pretty inexpensive one at that.
And so far, I really like my decision. I still have a pretty good chunk of change in my “saved up allowance” envelope (no sense putting it in the bank with interest rates hovering a hairs-breath of 0.00%….), and I can save for my next tablet. I’m finding that I like the Kindle a lot (I’ll write about that in a future blog post) and the notion of “finding out how I work with a tablet” is definitely playing out. I can now keep an eye on the market, and make a good decision on a good, quad-core tablet when the time comes. Overall, it was outstanding advice, and I’m really happy with how things are working out.