Samsung Galaxy Tab Outshines Amazon’s Fire

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No surprise: the Kindle Fire is much cheaper than Samsung’s tablets, says Clint Boulton. But next year, the action will heat up

Sorry in advance if you’re already in love with your Kindle Fire, which began shipping on 14 November to customers in the US who preordered it, but this has to be written. Amazon’s Kindle Fire offers a weaker user experience than Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus tablet, which I reviewed this week.

The Fire is a fine little tablet, weighing 14.6 ounces with a rectangular bearing and black matte finish. It runs custom Android. But after the requisite navigation learning curve, which is mercifully slight, I experienced a slight lag in trying to navigate from application to application or destination to destination by tapping. I had no such issues with the Plus, which weighs only 12.2 ounces and is encased in a metallic-gray plastic finish.

Unresponsive navigation on the Fire

I found most of the Fire’s navigation tabs and buttons to be unresponsive at first, and had to tap or swipe more than once to get most places. And then I discovered how to get around this: To tap effectively on the Fire, I actually tapped and held until an application or window opened up.

Think of it as the press-and-hold gesture on most tablets. But you shouldn’t have to press and hold to move from one application to the next. I had no such tapping lag on the Plus, which flitted away at a quick tap each time. Amazon’s top navigation menu was pretty fluid.

When applications load on the Fire, they load with the kind of delay I currently still see on my Motorola Droid X smartphone, which has a single-core 1GHz processor compared with the 1GHz dual-core chip on the Fire. Compare that to the Plus, which is based on Google’s Android 3.2 Honeycomb platform and drove applications well with the speedier 1.2GHz chip.

Galaxy Tab Plus is more open

The Plus wins on customisation, too. The Plus has five customisable home screens and widgets. The Fire has its own special UI replete with an applications carousel but no customisable widgets.

What you access is what you tap. You can create bookmarks and the Silk Web browser is really good at remembering where you’ve been before, a by-product of its syncing with Amazon’s cloud on the back end. Both tablets employ Google search.

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