I've had my Kindle Fire now for a few weeks, and as an Apple/ iOS fanboy, I have to admit I actually like it. However, I find myself liking it despite of Android, not thanks to it. Here's my initial thought on what is good, and bad with this device, in a heads-up comparison with the iPad.
This is an easy winner to pick. the iPad is vastly superior in pretty much every category. However, it's also more than 2x as expensive. I have no idea why the Kindle is shipped with such small storage capacity, and what's worse, no SD storage slot! Again, what are they thinking, this is the "killer" feature of Android hardware, making them expandable. Alas, the Kindle Fire is not... However, I do like the size of the Kindle, it's extremely convenient, since it fits nicely into my cargo shorts front pocket. I can now carry a "book" with me no matter where I go. It is damn heavy though, and I honestly don't know why. This thing is a brick!
The touch screen on the Kindle Fire is much less accurate than the iPad. Perhaps it's a software issue (it got a bit better with the software update), perhaps it's the smaller size. But I find it really difficult to type on the Fire, much more so than on the iPad.
Winner: Apple iPad hands down.
Applications and app store
This is the easiest comparison, and it's pretty much a wash between the Android apps and the iOS apps. Pretty much everything that I need and is used to from my iOS experience exists in the Android / Kindle app stores. However, for reasons I can not understand, I'm not allowed to download Android apps from the Google Market app-store! Is this not supposed to be an open platform? At least let me download the apps that are free, for example, the Linux Journal reader. I know, I know, I can ask a friend with a registered Android phone to download the app for me, but again, wtf.
The Amazon app-store is pretty nice though, and I really do like that I can download the free apps without having to type in my password over and over again. I understand why the Apple store requires me to authenticate before purchasing apps, but why would it need to do that for free apps? Now, the Amazon app-store is too liberal here, and actually lets you, deliberate or accidentally, install expensive apps with little confirmation.
I've installed several apps from the Kindle app-store that works incredibly poorly on the Kindle. I've even almost been tricked into installing spy-ware already (although, I managed to avoid it thanks to the the reviews on the app. But Amazon, and I'm guessing Google, clearly have to do a much better job protecting consumers from this crap. There are certainly crappy iOS applications out there, and it saddens me to see that the closeness of iOS and the App Store actually seems to help. Please Google and Amazon, make this work in an open platform and market.
Winner: Apple Store, by a small margin thanks to it's much better screening of applications.
The Kindle fire works fairly well for web browsing, and various other network and "web" type applications. For its small size, it's quite nice. There's one big caveat here: the email client is a complete disaster, and a joke. It's hard to read and navigate the mail boxes I have (I use IMAP), and it's impossible (as far as I can tell) to make in-line comments in replies. All it supports is top-posting... I know I can (and probably should) install a better client, but come on Amazon, you clearly can do much better than this.
I don't have much experience with the "cloud" integration with the Kindle, other than it does seem to work. With the iPad though, the new iCloud stuff works great, and I'm quite happily synchronizing between all my iOS and OSX apps without any problems.
Winner: By far, the Apple iPad.
This is where the Fire excels, the Kindle application (which does work nicely on the iPad) is obviously great on the Kindle Fire. I love reading on this thing! That combined with the small size makes it the perfect reader. The iPad has no serious flaws in this regards, with its Amazon Kindle app, and the iTunes reader. But, it's not by any means as convenient as the Fire.
Winner: Kindle Fire.
So which device is the best? Well, overall, the iPad is a much better portable "tablet" device. But, if what you need is a Kindle reader, with some decent internet / Web applications, the Kindle is a good device. And, the Kindle has a very nice price tag, to say the least!