Archive for November, 2011

Kindle Fire vs iPad 2

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

First, let me just cut right to it.  I am NOT a professional tech reviewer, nor do my opinions carry any weight in any circles of particularly knowledgeable people.   I do spend a lot of time working with computers and things, but that’s about it.   So have fun, and by all means, if I’ve gotten something wrong (technically or just according to you) please let me know.

 

Kindle Fire vs iPad.   There’s really no comparing the two, and I feel it’s both unfair and a bit overzealous to put that kind of pressure on the Kindle.   I don’t recall Amazon stating it was going to be the iPad killer, I think that was the hype from everyone else.  Who knows?

 

That being said, let us compare the two anyway.

 

The most obvious thing is the size.  The iPad is twice the size of the Fire, and that’s a considerable advantage to screen size while watching movies or even general usage.  Although smaller, I have put then Kindle’s size to good use in the mobility department, as it fits perfectly into the cargo pockets on all my shorts and pants that have cargo pockets, of which there are many.  And that’s with the case on.   That’s kinda cool because you don’t want everyone to see what a tool you are, carrying around your “tablet” everywhere you go.  You’re still a tool, just not as noticeable.   Thickness…  The iPad is thinner by 3mm. which is cool but can become slightly uncomfortable while trying to hold with one hand.

 

Next we come to the weight.   I don’t care who you are, that’s a noticeable difference.   While playing games on the iPad, I felt the need to rest it a lot.  Due in part to its weight, and the very thin bevel/edge, which can dig into your supporting finger.     Now this could just be the way I hold it, I dunno?   On the flipside, the Fire’s weight and size made it easier to hold…  With the apparent design flaw of someone putting the power button where my support finger goes, which caused me to turn the Fire off every time I’d adjust my hand while not minding the location of the button.  Annoying.  Again, this may never affect you, it just bothers me.

 

Quick mention of the case/cover for these tablets before we move on to performance.   For the Fire I have the Marware, which is nice, it does its job and can act as a stand/prop while in use.  For the iPad, I have the smart cover, and HOLY crap Batman, that is an amazing peace of hardware.  I know, I know, it’s just a cover… but damn.   A simply ingenious use of magnets.

 

Performance.

Let me say this, the free version of Bejeweled Blitz performed equally as bad on BOTH tablets. ;)  (CORRECTION: we paid for that app on the iPad.)

On to the meat.   Scrolling, which you do a LOT of on the Fire. It wasn’t too bad a bit choppy at times, but overall ok.  Was it as good as the iPad?  NO, nor have I ever seen something scroll as nice. Up down, left or right, it was smooooothhh.

Page Loading.  Now this is a tricky one.  I really had to play around with this one.  Here is what I found:  On pages with Flash and Flash advertisements, the iPad, which cannot load Flash, loaded quicker.  On pages where there was no Flash, the Fire loaded quicker.   However… (here’s the catch)   The Fire did not always load the non-Flash sites faster.

Now, I ran this test as fair as I could, by clearing all the browser cache and data, as you would expect, before each test, running them side by side and using my butter-fingers to start each.   So this really isn’t a scientifically controlled experiment.  Never the less, I’m going to confidently give this one to the iPad.   If for nothing else than having the foresight to deny Flash from the beginning, which we all now know is DEAD.   I will however be revisiting this experiment without clearing browser data, which is supposed to be “Silk’s” big draw via the “Cloud processing power”…   We’ll see.

User Interface: iPad’s UI is simple, clean, all your apps up on the screen in nice uniform icons, with your main features docked neatly on the bottom.  Side scroll right for more app icons, or scroll left for a search window.  Very nice and well thought out.   Kindle’s UI makes use of a scrolling app carousel, combined with your favorites on faux-book shelves below the carousel.  I found the display too sensitive to use the carousel effectively, and it took some getting used to before I could manage it well enough to be good at it.   As a designer, I feel that a UI should NEVER take “some getting used to”, so that’s a sour-face.   I will say this however.   The Kindle UI does do something that I never really thought about much, but I really like.   And that is, it shows me the apps I use most, more prominently in the app carousel.   I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it actually comes in handy.   As far as I’m concerned, I like the icons not being the same size and shape.  I’m a very sight-cued person and that helps a bit.  Launching from the UI is also a bit tricky due to the overly sensitive display, but other than that, the apps seem to launch quickly.   Also, for those not liking the carousel of frustration, you can tap the “apps” button for an easier to use, multi-shelved app bookcase.

Media:  Gaming, the bigger display on the iPad makes games a bit easier to play, not to mention there are a lot of apps available for the iPad.   The Fire didn’t play games worse, performance wise, and from what I experienced was pretty damn good for a display of that size.  Movies however, seemed to load faster on the Fire from Netflix, and the displays were equally as sharp.  But again, the bigger screen is… well, bigger. J

Netflix was perfect, but the Amazon Prime movies however, seemed to lag at times. In actuality, when holding the movies up next to each other the Fire didn’t seem to lose that much picture real-estate to the larger iPad.    Sound:  No real winner here, however when I plugged in my headphones and woke up my Fire, they popped…  Horribly bad.  I shut it down, and turned it on again… and it did it again.  So I’ll hand it to the iPad, for NOT hurting me.   Book Reader:  I know this is supposed to be a Kindle strong point, but I haven’t actually read any books on it yet.  So yeah, I suck.  No clear winner.  I will however say this, the smaller size and weight of the Fire could be a huge factor in overall experience.  I’m, just sayin’.

Okay lets try to wrap this up.

Camera: No camera on the Fire.  iPad has a camera, but quite frankly it sucks, so maybe it shouldn’t.

Connectivity:  This is a huge fail for Kindle.  No 3G.  If your only going to give people 8Gigs of storage and try to make it up by giving them “cloud storage”, you better damn well make sure they can get to it whenever they want it.   The iPad 2 I bought didn’t come with 3G, and that was MY big mistake.   Sometimes being cheap is counter productive to being happy.   Setting up Wifi on each of these tablets was simple.

Price:  Yeahhhhh…..   Kindle FTW, up one side and down the other.

Conclusion: Performance and WOW factor, I’d have to give it to the iPad. That is a sharp machine.  But if you are looking to pay LESS THAN HALF of what an iPad costs for something that will do pretty much the same thing, look no further than the Kindle Fire.   I’m not disappointed in the Kindle Fire’s performance, in fact I’m quite liking it.  And unless you are absolutely trying to be an ass and compare it point for point to an iPad, you wont be disappointed either.

 

Okay, that’s about it for now.   I’ll have more on these as the weeks go by.

 

Thanks

 

That wasn’t too one-sided was it?

I’m on fire

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Okay. The fire wont let me bring up the keyboard, in visual edit mode..

Deathwatch: Flash

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

dlp_blog_logo.jpg   Today Adobe announced that it was killing the Flash Player for mobile devices.  In a sense this is announcing the death of Flash in general.

   About two years ago, I was asked if I thought Flash was still a viable media format.  I knew Flash was on the decline on the web, but saw its revitalization through its video delivery and increased Flex adoption on various sites and Air applications.  I was pretty confident at the time that Flash would be with us for a long while.   If for no other reason than, Adobe’s continued development with Flash and huge investment in several lines of Flash based developing tools.   I figured they weren’t about to let that go anywhere.  And that is why I shouldn’t trade in Futures on the stock market.

   I never considered the mobile market.  I mean, I DID consider it, I just didn’t consider that they would shun Flash.  I really thought that Flash was going to be “THE THING” when it came to animation on the small screen.   Wow, was I wrong.   My biggest blunder was under-estimating HTML5, and of course the old stand-by Java.   I saw HTML5’s slow…nay, Glacier-like adoption and honestly misunderstood its threat to the world of browser based animation.  My next mistake was dismissing Apple’s refusal to support Flash on their mobile products (iPhone/iPad).
When Apple decided it was not going to support Flash on either the iPhone or the iPad, I should have taken note.   At the time, Adobe and Apple were having some disputes over the rights to something, which I can’t for the life of me remember…  and everyone seemed to agree that this was Apple’s retaliation.   Well, not everyone, just the usual rumor mill.  At any rate, I should have been paying attention.   Adobe however, got the message loud and clear, and started silently pushing development on their new HTML5 animation tools.   They quietly moved Flash to the back burners as not to alarm anyone, yet maintained a close relationship with Google while they were developing Andriod.  My best guess is they wanted to do a little professional fence sitting.  Perhaps make sure the Android OS could run Flash, and at the same time, gauge the field to see if anyone was developing apps in Flash.   They didn’t however, make a big push to save it.   Which tells me, they knew it was missing something performance wise.

   Did I mention that shortly before Adobe announced they would no longer be supporting new Flash Players on mobiles, the announced Edge.   Edge is their new HTML5 animation tool.  How neat.

   So where does this leave Flash?   Not in a good position.   With more and more people surfing the net on mobile devices, developers that were holding on to their Flash animations and Flex applications, have been dealt a blow to the groin.   Make the move to HTML5 or be left behind.  Once that happens, there will be very little use for Flash.   Oh sure you’ll have Flex, but that will be predominately in the form of Air applications, and I doubt most of those will have much need of Flash’s powerful timeline animations.   Sad. I love me some timeline animation.