Science, Science and Tech

Kindle Fire or iPad Mini?

Science and Tech editor Becky Hardy compares the two hottest tablets.

Kindle Fire – from £129

The prices of the Kindle range are unrivalled for what they can offer, so are Apple just using their name to add extra to the price?

  • Kindle Fire: £129
  • Kindle Fire HD: £159
  • iPad: from £399
  • iPad Mini: from £269

Flash Player
Although an argument can be made that Flash player is dead, not everyone agrees and it is used by many educational websites. These cannot be accessed by iPads as they currently do not run the compatible software.

USB drive mode
The Kindle Fire has much easier access to it as a storage device, and can be used as a USB stick to easily drag documents between your PC and the device. There are some hacks for this for the iPad, but native USB drive mode is supported, out of the box, for the Kindle Fire.

PC format document viewer
Once again, out of the box, the Kindle Fire supports PC-format documents, ranging from Word files and PDFs, even to PowerPoints.

Yes, there are add-on apps that will do this for the iPad (the excellent GoodReader is the best example), but the Kindle Fire supports it, without the need for these.

Amazon perks
Amazon has a free lending library for books and an excellent free video watching Prime service for Amazon prime customers. This lets you view endless films and television episodes unlimited and for free.

Amazon integration
The integration between the Kindle Fire and the Amazon cloud is excellent. There certainly is an iPad-based App store and iTunes store, but their integration isn’t nearly as smooth.

iCloud is still substantially untested and, to be fair, Apple has very little successful experience providing cloud services while Amazon provides them to the entire planet.

The Kindle is a compact seven inches and this allows for easy mobility. It’s possible to easily hold it in one hand like a paperback, carry it around without worrying that you’re lugging an entire window pane in your backpack, and even use it as a live shop reference when crawling around machinery, doing maintenance.

It’s easy to hold in the hand, it’s easy to prop up on a pillow for bedtime reading or a last-minute TV show, and it’s just, plain comfortable.

iPad Mini – from £269

Build quality
One of the notable things about the first iPod was that there was no obvious way to break it open, and the trend in all of Apple products, including the computers, is the same. As with all Apple products, the new iPad Mini is seamless and faultless in build quality.

Dimensions and weight
This is worthy of mention because everyone has been focused on the Amazon Kindle Fire in comparison to the iPad Mini.

If one compares an iPad Mini beside a Kindle Fire, you will be surprised to find that they’re almost exactly the same size in both width and length, though the iPad mini is thinner.

The iPad Mini is considerably lighter than the Kindle Fire, with the stats coming in at 308g vs 395g. Even if you add on a Smart Cover, the iPad Mini will still be lighter.

Battery life
Any user of Apple products will complain about the battery life, and obviously when comparing this to a Kindle there is simply no comparison.

However, this iPad easily lasts into the nine hour mark, and with new lightening charging, it can quickly be recharged for another couple of hours.

Screen and scrolling
The iPad Mini is bright, white, and the text rendering is good – and there’s no obvious pixellation. Kindle books look as good on the iPad Mini as on the Kindle Fire.

Apple has always placed great priority on making sure that scrolling and navigating large lists and texts is as easy as possible. The Mini is no exception and it is much easier to navigate your way through than with the Kindle.

The mini has a five megapixel iSight camera with good resolution and a clean picture.

Questions were raised about the ease with which one could type on a smaller screen keyboard but no such issues have arisen.

In fact, many hard core fans are getting excited at the possibility of being able to use the screen in the portrait view and holding the device like a large iPhone.

App Store and iTunes
With hundreds of thousands of applications exclusive to the iPad and thousands more that are compatible with across various Apple platforms, the choice is enormous and diverse.


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