Amazon hit a home run with the Kindle Fire. It has the combined benefits of being a product of Amazon, being a Kindle, and being an Android-ish tablet. Amazon has positioned the device as a consumer-oriented gadget – a sort of gateway to all things Amazon. But, its Android roots also give it the functionality and flexibility to get some real work done as well.
The line between business and consumer technology is a bit blurry these days. You can play Angry Birds, watch a Zak Galafianakis movie, or post to Facebook from a business-class desktop PC, and you can create a business presentation, check your email, or review a draft of a white paper on your tablet. Where exactly is the line that determines which side of the consumer / business fence a device sits on?
I am not suggesting that you ditch your laptop and just use the Kindle Fire as your primary mobile computing device (although I have argued in the past that you could conceivably get away with that with the iPad). However, if you are traveling and you only want to take one device, it is nice to know that the Kindle Fire is capable of meeting your needs at least in the short term.
Although Amazon targets the Kindle Fire as a consumer device, it does come pre-loaded with the QuickOffice app. QuickOffice is a productivity suite which contains Quickword, Quicksheet, and Quickpoint – a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation app respectively.
QuickOffice can work with files on the internal storage of the Kindle Fire, or you can connect with cloud-based storage on Google Docs, Dropbox, Box, Huddle, SugarSync, or MobileMe. The free version loaded on the Kindle Fire can only open and view files, but if you upgrade to QuickOffice Pro (currently $14.99), you can also create and edit files. DocumentsToGo is another app with similar functionality and pricing.
Social networking from the Kindle Fire is a given. The standard collection of social networking apps are available for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Actually, though, the LinkedIn app on the Kindle Fire is not nearly as capable or impressive as its iOS counterpart, and the Facebook and Twitter “apps” are really just shortcuts that open the mobile version of the site in the Kindle Fire browser.
There are plenty of free apps available with productive business uses. You can get the Box or SugarSync apps for access to your files stored online, or get an app like Evernote for tracking to-dos, and taking notes, or LogMeIn Ignition for the ability to connect to your PC remotely.
Many of the apps I rely on in iOS, like Expensify, VIPOrbit, and WebEx, don’t seem to have Kindle Fire versions available. However, there are plenty of equivalent apps to fill the need for things like expense tracking and video conferencing.
Personally, I would still choose a laptop for intensive work, and I prefer the apps and capabilities of the iPad if I want to take a tablet as my mobile computing device. But, I do also have my Kindle Fire outfitted with the apps I need to get things done in case it happens to be the device I have on me when duty calls.