Thus far the Kindle Fire has been great. I don’t have much of a comparison to work from, having never used the old standard Kindle or the new iPad, but based on what I am able to do I like it a lot and it is a great value at $199 (no doubt that price will plummet over the next year or two as the next great thing comes out). The downloads are super fast with a wifi connection and the interface is generally great to use. Web browsing on the proprietary Silk browser is faster than I expected. Watching videos and navigating from page to page is quite fast and the bigger screen makes it a joy to browse the web compared to a smart phone.
If you have an Android smart phone and like the apps on it, you will love the Kindle Fire! I downloaded Angry Birds as soon as I opened the box and it is way more fun on the Fire than on a phone. Web pages are also of course much more user friendly because they are much larger and cleaner. So far the touch screen is generally very responsive. The ease of navigation in the store is very nice. The device itself is far more portable than a laptop and more user friendly than a smart phone. My wife was walking around the house last night watching a show on Netflix with her headphones on and the Kindle in one hand. I love the ability to bookmark and highlight a book I am reading and them navigate back to those spots with ease. I think the most basic book feature of the Kindle looks better on the older versions but when you combine the ability to check scores on ESPN, post on Facebook and read a book from one device it can’t be beat!
Some of the downsides. The main page has a “carousel” of icons for the most recent books, apps, etc. that you have used. You “spin” the carousel to browse through the options but it is kind of hard to make it stop where you want and it regularly keeps flipping when you try to tap an icon to open a book or app. Some of it is not terribly intuitive. For example, when you are in a book there is nothing obvious to tap to navigate but I figured out pretty quickly that a “double tap” brings up the menu including the all important home button. I have also been pretty bummed by the accessories that Amazon is offering. I bought a cover made by Belkin for $29.99 but it was absolutely garbage and I already returned it. I get the need for margin boosters but the quality of this product was so bad that Amazon should be embarrassed to be offering it alongside their new flagship product. These are all pretty minor concerns and don't detract from this breakthrough product.
Amazon has hit a home-run with the Fire. The product is just about perfect for the price and is a legit challenger to the iPad because of Amazon’s unique product line-up that goes along with the Kindle and the favorable price point that makes it more accessible to a wider audience.