Sales of the Kindle Fire have really been heating up. I've been playing with the popular gadget and I'm ready to answer that all-important holiday question: Should you buy or not?

Let me start by saying the Kindle Fire is a nice machine, but it's not the greatest. Among the pros and cons, to my mind, are the following:

  • Great price. The Fire is priced at $199 versus $400 to $500 for a base model iPad2.
  • Compact size. It's small enough to fit in a purse or jacket. The 7-inch screen size makes it more likely that you'll take it with you through your day than an iPad.
  • Great video capability. Whether you're streaming video from Amazon Prime, NetFlix or Hulu, it provides a fine viewing experience.
  • Mediocre web surfing. Unfortunately, there is no unfettered access to the Android marketplace.


It's important to note that the Kindle Fire is not intended to compete with the iPad 2 or any Android tablet. The real purpose of the Fire is to get you more into the Amazon ecosystem so you can buy more stuff from them.

It even comes with a teaser membership for Amazon's loyalty program, Amazon Prime, which allows you to get free movie downloads, free two-day shipping on most Amazon orders and now even free e-book lending (including New York Times bestsellers.)

Simply put, the Fire is a vessel to create more e-commerce for Amazon. As a machine, to surf and check e-mail, it is adequate, but not sizzling. However, the price is sizzling, which is why its selling millions.

So in my final summation, it's a good machine. I would even think it great if I wasn't spoiled by my wife's iPad 2!

Editor's note: This segment originally aired Dec. 5, 2011

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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