Now that we have a Kindle Fire and an iPad, we’ll add our own opinions on which to get: Should you spend $499 or more for the iPad 2 or will the $199 Kindle Fire be enough?

We have both tablets, so it’s easy to compare them. Joy finds she likes the small size and light weight of the Kindle Fire, just seven inches and 15 ounces. That’s nine ounces heavier than a regular Kindle, but seven ounces lighter than an iPad. The Fire is easy to throw into a purse or a bag. And it’s easy to hold in your hands for long stretches. In fact you can easily hold it in one hand, which is quickly tiring with the iPad.

The Fire’s “carousel” main page shows dozens of revolving images, representing your apps, books, videos and magazines. It’s very easy to navigate. You can use your finger to pin favorites to a shelf below the main screen image or move to other categories by tapping a link at the top of the screen. The links point to music, videos, apps, Web sites, documents, etc. If you’re already using Amazon’s Cloud Player for music, or getting free movies through a subscription to Amazon Prime, the Fire handles all that plus Netflix and games like “Angry Birds.”  We like it that you don’t have to type in a password every time you add an app.

The Fire connects to the Internet through a WiFi connection. Apple has a WiFi-only version of the iPad and another that adds a 3G cellular phone connection. You pay more for the cellular version upfront, plus a monthly fee. You may not mind the absence of 3G on the Fire, since much of your reading takes place offline. You save money by not having monthly charges.

Our favorite free news app is “Pulse.” This comes with stories from the Wall Street Journal, ESPN, and a dozen or so magazines and blogs. Turn on the Fire for a few seconds before you leave the house and those stories will quickly download. They will then be there when you’re offline on the bus or at the dentist’s office.

When the iPad first launched, a dozen how-to books immediately followed. We haven’t seen any yet for the Fire, which is an indicator of how easy it is to use. But of course there are books on how to use the iPad because it has more functions.


The bottom line: If you plan to use a tablet for business or creative tasks, get the iPad. If you like a larger screen, especially good for magazines, which tend to spill off the page if you enlarge them on the Fire, get the iPad. If you need a 10 to 12 hour battery life, get an iPad. In fact, the iPad is a charmer. Play around with one at an Apple store and see if you can get out the door without buying it. We couldn’t. But if we hadn’t already bought the iPad, the Fire would easily be enough for us – and the $300 savings is appealing.

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