Although initial reactions to Amazon’s Kindle Fire have been glowing, as of late the 7-inch Android-based tablet has been taking heat from critics who say it suffers from several problems.
Those critics point to the device’s lack of physical volume buttons, software quirks and other issues that, if left unaddressed, could have a profoundly negative impact on the device’s sales over the long term.
The fact is, like any other device, the Kindle Fire does have some flaws. There also are some areas in which Amazon could have done a better job of delivering features customers really desire. But the device is done. And for the most part, it delivers on Amazon’s promise of becominga cheaper alternative to high-powered and high-priced tablets already on the market, like Apple’s iPad 2.
So, complaining about the Kindle Fire now won’t do anyone any good. Instead, it might be a good time to consider some of the things that Amazon can do to improve the next Kindle Fire iteration when that device hits store shelves sometime next year.
Read on to find out what Amazon must bring to the second-generation Kindle Fire.
1. More physical buttons
The Kindle Fire has been criticized recently for only coming with a single physical button that controls whether the screen is on or off. It’s a fair criticism. As nice as tablets are with their touch-screen functionality, physical buttons are needed to do basic things like control volume. The Kindle Fire 2 shouldn’t come with too many buttons, but one or two more to serve essential needs would detract from the tablet’s sparse design.
2. Improved sound quality
The Kindle Fire lacks the sound quality found in the iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, so Amazon should deliver better-quality speakers in the Kindle Fire 2. Sure, it’ll push the price up, butthe Kindle Fire’s speakers are a real problem right now.
3. A touch-screen reboot
If Apple does anything right, it’s that it delivers outstanding touch screens. The iPhone 4S’ touch screen is nicely responsive, and the same can be said for the iPad 2’s. To make the Kindle Fire 2 an even better iPad competitor, Amazon must make the device’s touch screen more responsive. Sluggish touch-screen performance on theKindle Fire might be partly due to software quirks, but better hardware will always address such issues.
4. More screen sizes
The Kindle Fire launched with a 7-inch display. However, it’s competing in a market dominated by much larger alternatives, including the 9.7-inch iPad 2 and 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab. Therefore, Amazon should bring new screen sizes to the next Kindle Fire to offer customers more choices.
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5. 3G and 4G connectivity
Want to go mobile with the Kindle Fire and connect to the Internet? Think again. The device’s lack of 3G and 4G support is a major issue as Apple eyes 4G and other products already on store shelves support mobile productivity. The Kindle Fire 2 must come with 3G and 4G connectivity.
6. Bring on the cameras
As a low-priced alternative to the iPad 2, Amazon had to make some difficult decisions with the Kindle Fire. One of the things that got left on the chopping block was dual-camera support. But with luck, camera costs will come down enough to justify adding both a front- and rear-facing camera to the next version of the Kindle Fire.
7. More function than fun
The Kindle Fire is undoubtedly a fun device to use, thanks to the integration of several Amazon services, including Prime Instant Video and the Kindle Store. But it lacks the functionality found in devices like the iPad 2, which can replace a lightweight notebook or netbook. With the Kindle Fire 2, Amazon should endeavor to deliver more functionality while still staking claim to the “fun” features consumers are enjoying in its current slate.
8. Privacy is a problem
Privacy is a major problem with the Kindle Fire. The device doesn’t provide a place for users to safeguard data, and if one-click Amazon.com buying is turned on, anyone can turn the device on and start purchasing products. What’s more, content recently viewed is automatically added to the home screen, making everything a person does readily viewable to the next person who happens to pick up the device.Amazon will likely address that problem in the Kindle Fire software update coming soon, but it should ensure that it doesn’t make the same mistake with the Kindle Fire 2.
9. Owner customization
Amazon’s Kindle Fire does not let users modify just about anything in Android. In fact, the operating system seems relatively locked down. That’s a mistake. In the next Kindle Fire, Amazon must follow Apple’s lead and give customers far more control over what’s displayed on the home page, what applications can be accessed and more. Owner customization is central to the device’s success.
10. A new design
As 2011 draws to a close and we start looking at what some of the top tablet makers have planned for 2012, it’s about time low expectations are thrown out the window. Next year should be one where tablet makers innovate on design and deliver something truly unique. Apple might do it. Even Samsung might do it. Why shouldn’t Amazon with its follow-up to the Kindle Fire?