Amazon Kindle Fire UI slated as 'disappointingly poor'

Amazon Kindle Fire UI slated as 'disappointingly poor'We're not sure how true it is, but we're excited all the same by the rumours that the Amazon Kindle Fire could be touching down in the UK as soon as next month.

But interface expert Jakob Nielsen says we shouldn't be, as according to him the pocket-friendly Amazon slate is “disappointingly poor” from a UI point of view, too heavy and “unpleasant to hold for long periods of time”.

Now at this point you may be asking what an interface expert actually is, and so are we, but let's hear Mr Nielsen out before dismissing him as a snake oil merchant.

Nielsen has penned a near-1,500 word analysis of the Kindle Fire's weaknesses, complete with bullet points, two pictures of a finger on the tablet's screen and plenty of bolded-up phrases so you can tell which bits are the important bits.

The main thrust of his argument is that 7in tablets such as the Kindle Fire are just wrong in general, as they fall in an unhappy medium between touchscreen smartphones and full-size 10in tablets.

His criticism of the UI relates to the increased likelihood of tapping the wrong thing on screen because of the smaller overall size, and the fact that your fingers get in the way more of you seeing what's going on.

A valid criticism? Partly, and although we want to find fault in the sometimes groundless statements he makes, we've felt all along that 7in tablets offer no advantage over the 10in form factor other than portability, and you have to put up with a whole list of downsides for the privilege.

And when the tablet in question is as heavy as the Kindle Fire – “unless you have forearm muscles like Popeye, you can't comfortably sit and read an engaging novel all evening”, Nielsen suggests – that advantage falls by the wayside.

He also claims web browsing using the Kindle Fire's Silk browser as frustrating and clunky, going as far as to wonder whether it's not a ploy to make browsing in general a disappointment so that people are more likely to head into the Amazon Appstore and spend some money.

Can't say we agree on that point, and given that Nielsen's findings are based on the feedback from just four people, the whole thing seems questionable. There's a lot more to an interface than the couple of points he covers, and whatever shortcomings the Kindle Fire has, it's certainly not holding it back at the sales counters over in the US.

Read more about: Amazon Kindle FireAndroid

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2 comments

Stelph  Dec. 8, 2011 at 11:49

Wow, what a terrible artilce this bloke has written, frequent bold text makes it quite hard to write, and as Martin points out he seems to have only had a couple of people test the tablet, also these people seem to have been quite thick or the writer is being overly sensationalist (which would suggest a strong bias)

"One poor guy spent several minutes trying to log in to Facebook, but was repeatedly foiled by accidentally touching the wrong field or button" - Really? In the picture shown the finger and the field to text are similar sizes to when I need to log into anything on my iPhone and it doesnt take me minutes to hit a field, even if i miss it once or twice!

Also I dispair at the contradiction in this article, where he talks about the 7" tablet being wrong as they are too small when compared to the 10" tablet (although he is happy with the 3.5"), and that he seems happy lugging around and iPad but then argues that that 7" tablet is too heavy, what does he imagine the weight of a 10" tablet is?

That being said, I think the article has some good points about usability and how the Kindle can be improved, he should just avoid going on a rant about the Kindle as a whole annd display his obvous bias

Kindle fire - 413g
iPad - 680g

CTPAHHIK  Dec. 8, 2011 at 11:50

Just like any third party UI of any Android device manufacturer.

HTC and Samsung are only two that do not force you to use uninstall feature of Titanium Backup :p

PS. And I have reservations about Samsung

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