Does the Kindle Fire have a killer app?

It's safe to say that reviews of Amazon's new tablet, the Kindle Fire, have been mixed. While many have praised its low price tag and impressive user interface, others have pointed out that you get what you pay for - and in tablet terms, $200 doesn't pay for very much. It certainly doesn't pay for gorgeous design: the Kindle Fire looks very like its alleged inspiration, the BlackBerry PlayBook.

The killer app for the Kindle Fire is Amazon itself, and on that front it delivers. It's very easy to get hold of your Amazon ebooks, music and video, as well as magazines and TV shows, and there's a huge selection. Apps are much thinner, though: the Kindle Fire uses Amazon's app store, not the Android Market, so there's around 10,000 titles compared to Android's 300,000-plus.

On the subject of Android, that's the Kindle Fire's operating system - but the Android bits are buried deep. Amazon has put its own spin on the OS, and that means you gain a nice user interface but lose Gmail, Google Maps and the Android Market.

The other killer app is Silk, Amazon's technology for speedier browsing. Reviews of that have been mixed, with Wired magazine in particular finding it unimpressive.

So is the Kindle Fire an iPad killer? Reviews say no: they're competing in very different markets. The Fire is a sit back and enjoy device, whereas the iPad is more rounded - and considerably more expensive. As Joshua Topolsky writes on The Verge, "the Fire is an incredible tablet for its price point. The amount of content Amazon offers is staggering, and the software is easy enough to use that even novices will figure it out quickly. There are kinks to work out and finishing touches that need to be added, but that’s nothing the company can’t offer in a software update."

For now the Fire is US only, but it's one tablet we'd really like to see over here.

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