Product Reviews

Summer 2013

For a while now I've been trying to choose a tablet device for my 70-something year old mum, who is not in any way computer literate. I wanted something that managed to offer incredible levels of functionality with push button simplicity. I narrowed it down to a choice between the Kindle Fire and the iPad, and ended up choosing the Kindle Fire.

Here are the 6 main reasons why.

1. Price. The 8.9" Kindle Fire 16 GB with Wifi is £229 (which is the one we selected). At current prices this is £30 cheaper than the slightly smaller Ipad Mini (7.9") and is well over £100 cheaper than the cheapest normal sized iPad. Importantly, unlike most other cheap tablets, it does not feel cheap. It looks and feels great.

2. It's very simple to use. My mum uses about 5 things on the internet: Email, Skype, Amazon and (very occasionally) Google and she plays games. All of these are in her favourites list. She can get into all these things with the simple press of a button (or icon).

3. It's a nice size. It fits in her handbag. It's light and she can sit and hold it for hours.

4. It syncs really easily over Wifi with her Amazon account. Despite all claims to the contrary I have never found syncing iPhones and iPads with iTunes a straightforward process. It never happens in the background. There's always some blasted operating agreement or update to sort out. It's always a pain. The Kindle Fire with Wifi synced with my mum's Amazon account with no effort at all. (I was impressed with this, and am so irritated with iTunes that I am thinking of getting a Kindle Fire myself)

5. The screen resolution is good. It's not as good as the iPad retina display on the iPad4 - but my mum does not know what that is and wouldn't care about it.

6. The sound is great. Surprisingly great. Again, my mum wouldn't notice this, but I did and was really impressed.

To read more about the reasoning behind this choice and about my mum and her computers click here.

There are a few things about the Kindle Fire that were not so great though. The keyboard is small. My mum uses a soft tipped stylus pen to type which works for her but I would find irritating. The browser is fine - but it is slightly slower than I'm used to on an iPad. It comes with adverts on the page that appears when you switch it on - which is pretty cheap of Amazon. When did it become acceptable to plaster adverts over something you've just purchased? The volume control is on the screen and not on the side of the tablet, which means that lowering the volume is fiddly. It needs to be something that is controlled instantly. The carousel that appears so you can scroll through the apps is annoying. I don't really want to scroll through anything when I'm looking for things. The "looking" bit of looking is never as interesting as the "finding" bit of looking - so don't over design and draw attention to the "looking" bit.

One of the best thing about the original Kindles was that they used the anti glare E ink screen in their readers. The Kindle Fire doesn't use this so reading books on it isn't quite as nice as reading them on the original Kindles. They're still perfectly readable though. But most of these are minor quibbles (except for the volume control thing which is pretty annoying).


This is a brilliant and cheap tablet. It looks good (especially in a case). It's light. It does loads of stuff: within an hour of setting up the Kindle Fire we had put loads of photos of the grandkids onto the Kindle, we had Skyped auntie in Arizona, we had watched Elvis Costello live at Glastonbury on iPlayer, we had played Angry Birds, we had downloaded a book and we had checked the weather. Most importantly of all - my mum gets it and can use it without her feeling intimidated or confused. By: IW

You can see full details about the Kindle Fire here.