Seems everyone is finding it in their hearts to beat up on the Amazon Kindle Fire for its balky navigation and other gross fits and starts.
On the other hand, most research firms still see the Fire, which Amazon dubbed its most successful product ever, as the tablet to beat this holiday quarter. Or at least, it's the Android tablet to beat after the iPad!
While many analysts have been calling for the $199 Fire to sell 3 to 5 million units for the December quarter, Goldman Sachs expects Amazon to sell six million Fires by the end of the year, according to AllThingsDigital.
Moreover, Goldman Sachs analyst Heather Bellini thinks the device could sell between 15.5 million and 20.5 million units during the tablet's first full year of availability.
Do the math and you realize the upper range is close to iPad-like numbers. Apple has sold over 32 million iPads through its October quarter. Not bad.
"With the ability to consume all forms of media, at a price of $199, Amazon's Kindle Fire has provided a legitimate tablet device to a crowd that is more price conscious versus the significantly more expensive iPad or couldn't justify the spend as they already owned a laptop and a smartphone," Bellini wrote. Further, the price point, in our belief, is below the threshold to be thought of as a major purchase and is suitable for gifts."
That's amazing for Amazon when you consider just about anyone who has used an iPad or good Honeycomb tablet such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab models has found the Fire navigation experience to be, to be kind, less than stellar.
It can be slow and often sticky, and ReadWriteWeb does a great job explaining the technical details as to why, from the tweaking of Gingerbread code to the weak processor:
"This was bound to happen for Amazon. The Fire is a device made on second-tier hardware trying to fork Android Gingerbread into a seven-inch form factor with a toned-down approach based off media consumption. The Fire is an ambitious project trying to work off a scaled-down approach."
So what does this lead to? The New York Times summed up Fire owners' complaints thusly:
"A few of their many complaints: there is no external volume control. The off switch is easy to hit by accident. Web pages take a long time to load. There is no privacy on the device; a spouse or child who picks it up will instantly know everything you have been doing. The touch screen is frequently hesitant and sometimes downright balky."
That's where the cognitive dissonance comes in if you're a prospective tablet buyer mulling the Fire versus a base $499 iPad or even a $399 Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, which in my mind is the best 7-inch Android tablet ever constructed.
Do you pay the extra cash for a premium product or suck it up and pay less than half the cost of other tablets for a somewhat half-baked user experience?
Other people may decide the Fire is good enough as a shopping buddy, or an alternative player for Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and as a reader for books.
I was seriously mulling a Fire buy until I spent a couple weeks with it. I think the day that I become a big mobile Amazon shopper I might invest in one but not before the forthcoming upgrade to improve performance, navigation and privacy controls.
And certainly if and when Amazon releases another, improved Fire, I will look at it.
I love the idea of the Fire, only half-like the implementation. As someone who has tested more than a dozen different tablets, I'm taking a wait-and-see approach.