Kindle Fire vs. iPad 3rd Gen

The first reviews are in and it looks like the new iPad 3rd gen is a hit. Though it doesn’t represent a huge upgrade over the iPad 2, the upgrades it did get make it an even better tablet.

(Read: New iPad Review Roundup)

But do they make it the best tablet for you? Different people have different needs, and the iPad doesn’t meet all of them. If you’re contemplating a Kindle Fire, for instance, you’re probably looking for a smaller tablet or a lower price.

Before you go stand in line for Apple’s newest slate, make sure it’s what you want or need. Read on for our comparison.

Kindle Fire vs. iPad

Size

Apple iPad 3rd Gen | 9.5 x 7.31 x 0.37 inches | 1.44 pounds

Amazon Kindle Fire | 7.5 x 4.7 x 0.45 inches | 14.6 ounces

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The difference between a 9.7-inch tablet and a 7-inch model may not seem significant just looking at the numbers, but consider how you think you’ll use the tablet.

The Kindle Fire’s smaller size makes it easy to pull out while standing in line, or on a crowded train/bus, or any situation where you can’t get settled or need to hold the tablet one-handed. It’s also better for long reading sessions. The iPad is pretty light, but you’ll still feel the weight after holding it for a half an hour.

Though tablets are very portable, many people don’t take them out of the house much. In that scenario, the iPad is much more attractive. When sitting on the couch in front of the TV, working off a recipe in the kitchen, or catching up on social networks while lying in bed, the larger display is an asset. The weight won’t be such an issue, even if you use it for hours.

Display

Everyone agrees that the iPad’s Retina Display is beautiful and amazing. The super high 2048 x 1536 resolution has many benefits, including crisper text and beautiful 1080p video.

iPad retina display

The Fire’s 1024 x 600 resolution is not so impressive in comparison, nor is the display quality.

People who play a lot of games and want to watch full HD video will benefit most from the iPad’s display. Though text will look better on it, if you only plan to use a tablet for reading email, web surfing, and reading, the iPad is overkill.

Multimedia

Kindle Fire Amazon Instant Video

One of the advantages the Kindle Fire has over other Android devices it that owners have access to a vast multimedia library of titles to rent or own via Amazon that isn’t officially available on any other tablet. The Fire pulls together all the threads of Amazon’s media empire from music to books to video. Plus you get third-party services like Netflix.

Customers heavily tied into Amazon’s ecosystem and content will be happy with the Fire for that reason.

Amazon spent several years building a media library to rival iTunes, but it’s not quite there yet. Like the Fire, Apple’s iPad gives users access to a vast trove of movies and TV episodes to rent or own. Although at the moment there’s no streaming services similar to what you get with Amazon Prime. Still, the Netflix app is available for iPad, as is Hulu Plus.

Real Racing 2 Apple iPad Airplay Game

Most consumers will go with the tablet that can play what they already own. However, there is a compelling case to be made for the iPad if media is your thing. Since the aforementioned iPad display is far superior to the Kindle Fire, you’re going to enjoy watching video on it a lot more. Especially the new 1080p iTunes videos.

Every major video service has an app for the iPad, including networks like ABC and CBS. The same is not true for the Kindle Fire right now.

Want some icing on the cake? In combination with an Apple TV, users can stream all media on their iPad on an HDTV. The Kindle Fire doesn’t have any video output capability at all.

Apps

Right now there are over 585,000 apps available in Apple’s App Store and over 200,000 of those are made specifically for the iPad.

iPad Apps

The Fire is an Android device, but does not have official access to the Google Play Store/Android Market. Fire users are limited to what Amazon offers (unless they root). The Amazon App Store has just over 29,000 apps total and 16,500 for the Kindle Fire.

These two app stores have many of the same titles, and most major apps are found in both places. If your app needs are simple – productivity apps, reading, surfing the web, a game every now and then – the Kindle Fire offers that.

Amazon Kindle Fire Apps

Almost any new, hot app will come out for iOS devices first, though. And thousands are exclusive to that platform, making the iPad attractive for people who want to do everything with it.

Like Apple, Amazon checks every app they offer in their store for viruses, malware, and compatibility with the Fire.

Price and Selection

For many consumers, this is the only comparison that matters. The Kindle Fire is $199, which is affordable for many and fits into a tight budget. As Amazon’s commercial is fond of pointing out, you can buy two Fire tablets and a Kindle Touch for the price of one iPad. The trade-off is that the Fire’s specs and features are very low-key whereas the iPad aims to offer a comprehensive experience.

There is only one model of the Kindle Fire: 8GB $199, Wi-Fi only. Consumers have their choice of nine different iPads.

There are three Wi-Fi only models — $499 16GB, $599 32GB, $699 64GB – and then three models with the same internal storage plus 4G LTE on AT&T and three more models with 4G LTE service provided by Verizon Wireless that cost $629, $729 and $829.

With the iPad you have much more choice (and much more of a drain on your wallet). But, given the features, Apple’s tablet works hard to justify its price.

The Bottom Line

Consumers who have simple needs or a tight budget should go for the Kindle Fire. Though not as well-rounded as the iPad, Amazon’s tablet can boast a good content ecosystem, a decent selection of apps, and ultra portability.

People looking for a tablet with more of everything from apps to content to resolution will be happier with the iPad.

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(Related: Kindle Fire vs. Nook Tablet)

Comments

  1. JeffGra says

    As a correction, you don’t have to root the Kindle Fire in order to side-load applications.  It is officially supported through a simple toggle in the settings menu.  Obviously, it does require more effort (and a bit more risk) to locate install packages from sources other than the Amazon Application Store, but there still are quite a few ways of legitimately obtaining applications from other sources.

  2. Bobross2514 says

    We have both, but one small clarification, many devices like Roku allow users to access all their amazon video content through their TV

  3. Kirk Wolff says

    There is so much more available than this article offers in terms of available means to a video ends. The Ipad offers the Cinex App which allows one to drag and drop almost any AVI, Mpeg4, etc application directly from iTunes. It is all about knowledge hear as almost any software package is available to allow the Ipad to perform so much better, especilly with the HD resolutions of the Ipad 3. Azul is a great APP for Ipad that plays mp4 apps, so it covers for the video that Cinex may not play. At the bottom line is get the Total Video Converter and simply convert almost any video/audio to any format needed. The cost is so low on these apps and conversion software that it makes the whole bundle of a few software packages to get what you need.
    With Cinex, one starts Itunes, Click on your Ipad, then Apps, go to Cinex, then drag and drop your movie.video in the proper format to the Ipad. I have been doing this for over 20 years for various computers, tablets, etc, and always found a legal work around. One just has to keep searching on the Internet. I am an engineer, and I put together systems for the elderly so they can take advantage of all these very simple systems that they just do not know is available, let your false pride down and ask, and ye shall find..The kindle for me is just a toy. I do not own a laptop anymore. Any book is almost available in PDF format and the IPAD will take that with the PDF Reader APP. The list is endless, so your 500.00 I would say that the IPAD is much better alternative is one wants a robust , very real computer/tablet. Write me if you want to know more, and you shall learn.

  4. Julie says

    Kindle Fire vs. iPad I am looking for something that I can use to read a book and have the ability to earmark the pages. Also have a notepad or some sort of function that I can take notes on in relation to what I am reading. I study the bible and would like to take notes while studying. Which one would be most beneficial? Also does the kindle fire have internet access so that you could use a search engine to surf the web?

    • Massive Singer says

      The Kindle and the Ipad are both great for your needs, but there are differences that may be cruicial to your choice. To take notes you would have to download apps. Dues to no experience with a Ipad and my young age this comment may be inaccurate.
      Kindle for Julie’s needs :
      You can download apps on the Kindle that can help you with notetaking
      The only only catch with downloading apps from Amazon is that you need to give away your creditcard number to show that you are a U.S citizen
      If you are NOT a U.S citizen you shouldn’t get a Kindle Fire
      You can still read a actual Bible and take notes on a Kindle
      On the Kindle you can surf the Web

      Ipad for Julie’s needs :
      You can download apps for notetaking, there’s a greater variety of apps on the Ipad
      If you have a Bible you can Multi-Task and take notes.
      I think if you live in a country that’s not the U.S you’re ok

      Both are great but the Kindle is good if you live in the U.S and if you’re willing to give out a credit card number but you want a good price the Kindle is for you

      If you like big screens and a Android sort of feel..with a huge selection of apps and you have at least $500 to spare the Ipad is for you.

      Despite my inexperience I hoped I helped you

  5. Stacy says

    The Kindle Fire couldn’t really compete with the iPad but I don’t think it was meant to. With Amazon’s recent announcement of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ with 4G, I believe they may now have something in the same league with the iPad.

    I personally like the cheaper versions of the Kindle Fire HD because I still like to use my laptop and can’t see spending $500 or more on another tech toy.

    If you have any thoughts about the new Kindle Fire HD family of tablets, please let me know on my site at:

    http://www.tech-vs-tech.com/kindle-fire-vs-ipad

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