TidBITS: Amazon Beats Apple at Media Access
The Amazon Kindle Fire is not an iPad killer or even precisely an iPad competitor. If it succeeds — and based on my first day with it, I believe it will — the Fire will create a new intermediate niche for those who want a device with a bigger screen than a phone for reading, gaming, and watching video, but don’t want the iPad bulk or price tag. (You can read my brief review at The Economist.)
Where Amazon can compete with Apple, however, is on the ease of accessing media: both the items you purchased from the company that made the tablet, and other media to which you want access. Amazon’s Fire beats iOS hands down, even if you separately subscribe to Apple’s just-released iTunes Match.
On the Fire, the home screen has tabs all in a row for four divisions of media (Newsstand, Books, Music, and Video), as well as Docs, Apps, and Web links. Tap any category except Docs and Web, and two side-by-side buttons appear at the top when viewing your library: Cloud and Device. Tap Cloud, and every electronic media item you’ve ever purchased from Amazon is available for download (all categories), or streaming for audio or video. Tap Device, and anything stored on the Fire can be accessed, launched, or read.