The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

The iPad Cometh? Or the Kindle Fire This Time?

I do not own an iPad. To be honest, I don’t need one. But then again, who does? Still, I am almost certain to get one. Or I was. Now, I’m not so sure.

I’ve gotta think about this one.

After craving a Kindle for a long time, I finally got one and I’ve been very happy with it. I’m looking forward to the news that Amazon will be adding new features to the Kindle.

Now, Amazon’s introducing a Kindle “tablet” — Kindle Fire, and I can say with absolute certainty that I will get one. I’m trying to decide whether to preorder it.

Now, I already know the plethora of reasons I “shouldn’t” get a Kindle Fire. I already know that I shouldn’t quaff more deeply of Amazon’s Kool-Aid than I already have. I know that I shouldn’t swallow whatever Amazon sends down the pike, and pay to have them tell me what I can’t and can’t use and how I can and can’t use it. I know I shouldn’t buy into Amazon’s closed system. I know I shouldn’t contribute further to killing off the beauty of books. I know I shouldn’t give more money to Amazon because of its poor treatment of workers. I know I shouldn’t give my business to a company that tries to dodge paying taxes.

And on, and on. Substitute any other company for Amazon or Apple, any company whose products I use or come into contact with in the course of a day, and all of the above could still be said. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid connection with any of the above transgressions. Sometimes it’s not even a choice. When I ride the bus, do I know where the fuel comes from? BP? Exxon? Likewise, with the goods I purchase that have been hauled from one place to another. When I buy clothes for myself or my kids, can I always be certain of the conditions in which they were created? Can I avoid be “tainted” by goods and services through association, voluntary or otherwise? Well, maybe, but my guess is it would become a full time job, and I’ve already got one of those. The best I can do is the best I can to change the above in other aspects of my life. My hands will never be “clean.” Best I can do is wash them regularly.

As for the rest, whether or not to drink the Kool-Aid depends on whether I like the flavor. I know that the products I’m buying come with some limitations, and by the time I reach the point of purchase, I’ve already decided whether I can live with the limitations, because they outweigh the features I do want. The bottom line for me when it comes to the Kindle Fire is simple: Does it do what I need it to do? And maybe a little bit more?

The answer seems to be yes

It’s got color, which is nice, and a host of other features in addition to the ones I already enjoy with Kindle 3. I already subscribe to Amazon Prime. With a family and a full-time job, I don’t have time to wander through stores, browsing the aisles. If I don’t shop online, it doesn’t happen. And I I shop enough online that the Amazon Prime membership more than pays for itself each year. So, the ability to enjoy free streaming as a Prime member is a plus.

Still, it’s not an iPad killer.

The Kindle Fire’s relatively low price will ensure that Amazon will move a lot of product. But don’t believe the hype in the aftermath of Wednesday’s Fire unveiling—Jeff Bezos has not built an iPad killer. Apple is selling its devices at an estimated rate of 10 million per quarter. A lot of people, it seems, can afford to buy an iPad. And if you can afford it, there’s no reason to buy the Kindle Fire instead. Despite its many virtues, it was clear during a brief hands-on appraisal on Wednesday that the new Kindle will be smaller, less sleek, and less versatile than its pricier rival.

Once you look beyond the price tag, the Fire’s specs won’t knock you out. On the plus side, the new Kindle comes with an email client, and it lets you browse the Web via Wi-Fi, with a promising, Flash-enabled browser. There’s no native word processor, however, nor any other productivity apps.

Even with addition of color, a touch screen, games and apps, the Kindle Fire still won’t do everything an iPad. And the reasons I want an iPad 3 are pretty much the same as everyone else.

So, why would you pay at least $500 for a machine that merely replicates your other gadgets’ functions? Because the iPad is the best media-consumption device ever made. Or, to put it another way, there is no better machine to use on the couch, the bed, or in the bathroom. Not long ago we had other ways to occupy ourselves in these places. But as TV, movies, books, newspapers, and magazines migrated to computer screens, our machines began to infiltrate every part of our lives. Yet neither the laptop nor the phone is especially well-suited for use while lying down or otherwise slumping around. The laptop is too bulky and the phone is too small. The iPad bridges this gap—its size, shape, and interface make it the perfect machine for your most intimate moments of leisure.

Not just media consumption, but productivity. There are things I want to do that aren’t easy to do on the iPhone’s screen, at times and in places where I either can’t get to my computer or can’t easily whip out my laptop. And while the simple answer would to wait until I can get to my computer or whip out my laptop or use my iPhone (which is what I’m already doing), but the truth is, outside of work I’m probably not likely to get time to sit down in front of the computer until sometime after 9:30 pm, to do much that isn’t work-related.

But, at this point, this is sounding like an argument for holding out for the iPad 3. After all, it will do everything the Kindle Fire will do, and then some. The Kindle Fire, on the other hand, will be available in mid-November. The iPad 3 is due out in early 2012, according to the latest reports.

Plus, the iPhone 5 is rumored to drop soon. With an Apple iPhone 5 event set for tomorrow, there may be an announcement that it’ll be available later this year, maybe even later this month. That may seal the deal for me, because I’m definitely upgrading to the new iPhone. I’m not addicted to my iPhone, but it’s been a life saver more times than I can count. It’s like a 21st century Swiss Army Knife I can use to entertain, inform and organize myself. In a pinch, it lets me get work done when I’m away from the computer, opening up more time for other things. The small screen, however, makes it less-than-ideal for certain tasks.

Which brings me back to the iPad 3. The Kindle Fire has sparked my interest, but I’m leaning towards holding out for the iPad 3, and greater functionality. But that doesn’t mean I won’t treat myself to an upgrade to the Kindle Touch, keeping my current Kindle as a backup.

Then again, for $50 bucks more, why not just upgrade to the Kindle Fire, and get the iPad 3 when it comes out?

At least, that’s what I’ve decided. For now. Maybe.

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