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Slideshow: Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet Mini-Teardown

iFixit.com
11/18/2011  
18 comments
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Beth Stackpole
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Big leap forward
Beth Stackpole   11/18/2011 6:27:15 AM
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While I know plenty of avid readers who won't part with their Kindle, the obvious comparison with the Fire model is the the iPad. It looks like Amazon has made huge strides in making the Kindle well suited for a range of applications (watching movies, surfing the Web) in addition to its core capabilities. While it physically looks more iPad-like, I'm wondering if the actual user experience is up to snuff with an Apple device and if this Kindle will make any kind of inroads in Apple's lock on the burgeoning tablet market.

Charles Murray
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Re: Big leap forward
Charles Murray   11/18/2011 5:00:28 PM
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Good point. I can't imagine that readers of e-books will continue to read their books on dedicated devices in the future. I would be surprised if future readers don't have a multitude of applications (watching TV, web surfing, viewing movies) going forward.

mrmikel
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Re: Big leap forward
mrmikel   11/21/2011 9:56:01 AM
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As an e-reader user, I want the extended battery life and small size.  I am not looking for video.  I have other devices for that and I don't want them all in one place.  Color is nice, but not at the expense of battery life.

But I am an old fogey with a lot of paper books too.  And my cell phone is used just as a phone instead of a toy.

Walt
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Re: Big leap forward
Walt   11/21/2011 11:43:47 AM
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Yes, mrmikel, extreme low power usage is a big deal to E-ink readers.

The other big advantage of E-ink over LCD is readability/eyestrain.  That display is really nice to the eyes - like paper is - for those who actually read whole books on their readers.

My wife adores her Kindle for book reading and even if she gets a Fire, I believe she will continue to use the Kindle for books after reading one or two on an LCD...

Lauren Muskett
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Re: Big leap forward
Lauren Muskett   11/22/2011 7:26:24 AM
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The e-ink and long battery life are the main reasons I regularly use my Kindle. I agree, it is much easier to read with less eyestrain and it feels like you are reading a regular book without all the bulk, I don't get the same results with reading from an LCD screen. Now, if I am looking to do other things than just read, then I use another device.  

Alexander Wolfe
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Low-cost assembly
Alexander Wolfe   11/18/2011 9:54:32 AM
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The tight design constraints all round are of huge interest here to design engineers. Also interesting to note is the question of whether Amazon is making a profit selling the Kindle Fire for $199 or whether they're losing money. Market analysts iSuppli peg the cost of the Fire's Bill of Materials (BOM) at $201, while Design News sister company UBM TechInsights puts it at about $143.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Low-cost assembly
Rob Spiegel   11/18/2011 10:52:22 AM
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Talk on the street indicates that Amazon is selling the Kindle Fire at a loss in order to encourage users to buy digital content. Logic would suggest Amazon believes the Kindle Fire will prompt greater sales of digital books and movies than the Kindle Reader alone was able to do. 

It will be interesting to see how the Fire affects the iPad. It is certainly a lot less expensive. I'm also curious to see whether the developer community will jump on the Kindle Fire.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Low-cost assembly
Beth Stackpole   11/18/2011 1:23:13 PM
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Makes sense that Amazon would see the Kindle Fire as a loss leader to encourage more sales of online content. And with this platform, it's not just books and magazines, but video as well. And as Rob points out, far less expensive than an iPad.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Low-cost assembly
Rob Spiegel   11/18/2011 1:28:49 PM
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That's right, Beth. Even further in the sales area, users will be able to buy physical products through the Kindle Fire. Amazon has a ga-zillion physical products sold through its affiliates. You can buy those products with the Kindle e-Reader. And those physical products come with a higher margin than Amazon's digital content.

DMayEADS
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Iron
Re: Low-cost assembly
DMayEADS   11/21/2011 12:23:39 PM
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Since the Fire is based on the Android OS, I'm sure ther will be many apps available. 

I've also seen articles where folks are making Google apps work with this system.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Kindle Fire is LCD based no more E-Ink-?
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   11/20/2011 6:25:11 PM

I think what’s most remarkable in Kindles’ release of this product is their re-directed product strategy using LCDs instead of E-Ink.  What a contrast from their initial posture of the first e-readers!!  The big deal was E-Ink. E-Ink is what made Kindle a 21st Century innovation.  Electrophoretic displays provide the huge benefit of bright-sunlight-readable displays PLUS about 100x the battery life, because the bi-stable electrophoretics require a voltage pulse only to change the display, (not maintain the display). These two key points were the drivers for E-Ink development out of M.I.T in the late 1990’s and made it the killer App for the E-Ink’s courtship into the Amazon marketplace.  Yes, there was a time not long ago when a “Killer App” was not solely SW code-based.  Funny how that enormous breakthrough was minimized and even forgotten in the wake a bigger, brighter, and cheaper color displays.  Kindle Fire.  Color LCD. Tough in the bright sun, and battery life like everything else.  Yawn.  Just too “Me-Too” to be considered innovation.

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Kindle Fire is LCD based no more E-Ink-?
Alexander Wolfe   11/21/2011 8:59:58 AM
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Regarding E-Ink, which JimT mentions, it's a great technology, which I've been writing about since before it was popular. Here's a pointer to a short interview I did with E-Ink co-founder Russell Wilcox back in 2005: Electronic-Paper Displays Slowly Gain Wider Acceptance.

gafisher
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Gold
Re: Kindle Fire is LCD based no more E-Ink-?
gafisher   11/21/2011 9:20:28 PM
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@JimT Re: "Funny how that enormous breakthrough was minimized and even forgotten ..."

Look closer and you'll find that several new e-Ink Kindles were introduced at the same time as the Fire.  Amazon hasn't abandoned electrophoretic displays, they've simple added an additional product with different features to the product line.


JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Kindle Fire is LCD based no more E-Ink-?
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   11/22/2011 12:28:02 AM
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Wow; slammed with a One-Star Review, comparing E-Ink to LCD - - -wonder what was so offensive-?   I, too, worked closely with Russ Wilcox and the team in Cambridge in 2002 developing a thinner version laminate for a Motorola product (which unfortunately never shipped).  I love the technology, and can't say enough good things about it.

RadioGuy
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Books and Movies have different requirements
RadioGuy   11/21/2011 12:59:48 PM
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For books, the e-ink display is far superior.

For movies, the color display of the Fire is superior.

I predict that many will want one of each. We shall see.

gafisher
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Re: Books and Movies have different requirements
gafisher   11/21/2011 9:14:59 PM
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@RadioGuy Re: "I predict that many will want one of each"

I'm in exactly that position -- one of each.  My Fire is quite good for books, better than what I've seen on the Nook or iPad, and of course superb for media, but uses more power and is WiFi-only.  The standard 3G Kindles, like mine, has incredible battery life, an excellent display, and quite importantly for me, lifetime 3G wireless access in over 100 countries.  This is the Kindle that accompanies me to meetings.

The beauty of this is that one can purchase a Fire, a 3G Touch, and several years of Prime membership for well below the cost of an iPad.  Admittedly the iPad can do a few things the Kindles can't, but the reverse is also true.  It's also likely that very many iPad users do no more on their tablets than could be done as well or better on a Kindle.

Alexander Wolfe
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EETimes Action
Alexander Wolfe   11/22/2011 12:36:03 PM
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For a related, more electronically oriented teardown, see EETime's teardown, done by Design News sister company UBM TechInsights, posted here

bobjengr
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Platinum
KINDLE FIRE
bobjengr   6/28/2012 7:49:22 PM
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OK, I would like someone (or all) to recommend a brand(s) to purchase. I am a consulting engineer and have not made the "leap" as yet to an e-reader. I walk through airports with a suitcase full of "necessary" items but would really love to consolidate. Three weeks ago, I traveled to Bangor, Maine and was not close to a 120 VAC outlet. Battery life seems to be critical. Any aid you can give will be greatly appreciated. I had much rather hear from a user; i.e. someone who has been there, instead of a rating agency paid by the manufacturer supplying the product. Many thanks. Bob J.

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