Anandtech is the “cream of the crop” in hardware reviews and they set the standard for everyone else.
I feel like Amazon believes in the Kindle Fire and thus we will see the software get better over time. As with most tablet recommendations lately, if you can wait, doing so would be wise. Don’t assume that things will get better, wait for Amazon to make them better and then reward the company with your hard earned dollars.
That being said, more concrete recommendations are always nice so here we go:
1) If all you do is read eBooks, grab a regular Kindle. The reading experience is far better on those devices. Sure response time is noticeably longer than on the Kindle Fire, but you do get better battery life, a display that’s easier on your eyes, etc…
2) If you already have an iPad/Honeycomb tablet, look elsewhere. I appreciate you reading this review but don’t buy a Kindle Fire. If you really want something more portable to read books on, see point 1.
3) If you need an entry level tablet, the Kindle Fire is as good as they get for $199. You get the same general purpose compute and memory as an iPad 2, at a far lower price. GPU performance isn’t a knockout but as long as you’re not a hardcore 3D gamer (do those exist on Android yet?) or high end game developer this isn’t an issue.
See the full review for a very thorough test of the Fire’s browser – including speed and compression data.
At the end of my Kindle 4 review, I said that the low-end Kindle “isn’t necessarily designed to be anyone’s first Kindle or anyone’s only Kindle” and was aimed primarily at people who already own another tablet or Kindle. I still think that the Kindle 4 is a great second e-reader for someone who already has one, but if all you’re doing on your Kindle is reading (and I’m sure that describes a lot of you) then I’m going to adjust my previous opinion slightly – save yourself the $20, because the Kindle 4 is a pretty good gadget at an impulse-buy price.
However, if you do any highlighting or note taking, if you wouldn’t mind audiobook or MP3 support, if the added battery life or extra storage space appeals to you, if the thought of clicking around the device’s menus or the Kindle store with nothing but buttons sounds irritating, or even if you’ve learned and gotten used to a touch interface on a smartphone or tablet, the Kindle Touch is the Kindle to beat. You really get a lot for that extra $20, and in my mind the touch keyboard is worth that much by itself. Whether the 3G option is worth the extra $50 is up to you – given the ubiquity of wi-fi and the new limits on Internet usage over 3G, I think the 3G Kindle is more of a niche product than ever before, but you world travelers probably already know if it’s a feature you can’t do without.