The iPad Killer that Never Was
As we all know by now, Amazon is coming out with what looks to be the ultimate iPad killer, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 (damn, that's a mouthful). In a sense, the KF9 (this is what I'll call it) is absolutely perfect. It comes with a 8.9" display, which to me is the perfect size for a tablet. 10" tabs feel a bit too big at times, especially when you're trying to type in landscape mode, and 7" tabs are just too small when you're trying to do something productive with it like remote accessing you're PC.
At 8.9" and with a resolution higher than full HD, you finally get an Android tablet that got the screen right, which is something I feel has bugged Android devices in general up until the release of the Galaxy Nexus. The KF9 also seems to do the other things right, most importantly price. $299 for a "Retina" display tab with a quad core processor and 16GB of storage is a steal, $369 for the 32GB is an amazing deal in itself....but then you get to the things that Amazon didn't do right with this tablet.
First and foremost, I don't understand their data plan. 250MB a month is literally nothing unless you plan to just download a bunch of books and update apps. Plus, does adding a 4G/LTE radio really cost Amazon $200 extra on the device? If it were me, I would've gone the SIM card route. It would've made much more sense to make a $449 or even $399 device with a sim slot that can be taken to any carrier. If Amazon wanted to provide their LTE service (which is a good deal at 50 bucks a year), then people should've just been able to buy a SIM from Amazon and just pop it in their device.
The second, and far bigger factor, IMO is clearly the software. I understand that Amazon is subsidizing these tablets to make profits in their other ventures, but that doesn't mean that Amazon needs to wall the garden off so much to the point that they don't even like to recognize that their tablets are Android tablets. Android is a massive brand and I don't understand why you wouldn't keep as many of the Android features on the KF9 or even KF7 so that you attract that market of buyers as well.
If it was me, I would've gone with a stock Jelly Bean firmware, but basically replace as many of the Google Apps with Amazon apps and turn them into system apps and prevent users from downloading alternates to those apps. I know that sounds monopolistic and perhaps even illegal, but I feel that Amazon should have the right to do something like that because they are subsidizing the tablet. In a sense, a carrier like AT&T does the same thing when we buy their phones so the practice isn't uncommon.
Overall, though, the KF9 will still be my next without a doubt. Knowing how quickly the orignial Fire was hacked and rooted, I think I will take my chances of running that kind of hardware on something like a Cyanogenmod 10. The sad part is that less tech savvy people might still spend the extra 200 bucks for an iPad or the new iPad mini.