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亚马逊Kindle Fire:是新星还是流星?

JP Mangalindan 2011年11月16日

亚马逊备受期待的平板电脑终于闪亮登场了。它并不完全符合大家的预期,但这依然称得上是亚马逊有史以来最重要的产品。

    软件方面,亚马逊为Fire选用了谷歌(Google)的Android操作系统(其内核代号为“姜饼”)并创建了以灰色和橙色为主的全新用户界面。主屏幕设计得像一个书架,屏幕上有四大板块:一条纤细的状态和通告栏,用以显示电池状态或后台运行的程序;一个横栏,按照媒体类型分门别类地展示书籍、视频和软件;一个虚拟的“旋转木马”式封面浏览器,可供点击浏览近期看过的媒体;一块特定区域,可供用户做书签标记。

    一般情况下,在Fire上的阅读体验与基于电子墨水的最新款Kindle同样流畅,但是新型处理器使运行速度要更快些。但是由于它采用了彩色屏幕,因此和iPad,Nook Color及其他平板电脑一样,在室外阅读可能就会颇为困难。另一方面,照片和其他图形也可弹出展现。用它来读像《时尚先生》(Esquire)这类以图片为主的期刊时赏心悦目,同时要标出一些生词或做些批注也来得更快捷。阅读漫画书时,我确实注意到翻屏有点迟滞,但在读其他内容时就没有碰到这种问题。

    Fire的一大引人入胜之处是能从亚马逊公司内部和第三方服务商处获得大量精选视频。亚马逊将Fire上的视频分成三大类:尊享即时视频,电影和电视节目。亚马逊用户可以很方便地找到或搜索内容,随后就能向亚马逊租用或购买了。虽然能在Fire上租借高清视频,但它本身只支持标清视频播放。因此,如果要租高清版的《X战警:第一季》(X-Men: First Class),它只能在其他兼容的设备上播放,在Fire上则只能观赏标清版。亚马逊应用程序商店(Amazon Appstore)即将推出成千上万种第三方应用程序,流订阅(Hulu Plus)及流畅播放的网飞公司(Netflix)视频软件也在其中。

    亚马逊的Silk网络浏览器也已获得广泛关注,因为它与其他网络浏览器的工作原理不同:有些网页上载是由亚马逊的EC 2云服务完成的,有些则由Fire自身来完成。数据会为了这款平板电脑而进行优化处理,因此正像公司所解释的,一幅3MB的图像可能被压缩成50K的文件。游湖浏览特定网站时,Silk还会分析其他用户浏览这些网站的一般规律,并根据这些行为特征,设法预测当前用户下一步将点击什么,并预先载入相关内容。

    For its software, Amazon took a version of Google's (GOOG) Android operating system (for the hardcore, codenamed "Gingerbread") and built a new user interface dominated by grays and orange. Designed to look like a book shelf, the home screen displays a thin status and notifications bar to display battery life or messages from apps running in the background, a row that categorizes items by media type like books, videos and apps, a virtual Cover Flow-like "carousel" of recently-browsed media to swipe through, and an area where users can bookmark things.

    The reading experience is usually as fluid as the latest crop of e-ink-based Kindle devices, but things hum along a little faster thanks to that processor. But just like the iPad, Nook Color, and other tablets, you may have trouble reading outdoors thanks to the device's color screen. On the other hand, photos and other art pop. Reading a photo-friendly periodical like Esquire is a pleasure, and little things like highlighting words for definitions or making notes are much faster. I did notice some lag swiping between comic books panels, though I didn't run into that problem when reading other media.

    One of the Fire's draws is a decent video selection from in-house and third-party services. Amazon breaks up the video section on the Fire into three main categories -- Prime Instant Videos, Movies and TV Shows. The company makes the experience easy to stumble upon or search something out, then either rent or purchase it. Though you can rent HD content on it, the Fire only supports standard definition video. So if you rent X-Men: First Class in high definition, it'll play in HD on other compatible devices, but in standard definition on the Fire. Hulu Plus, and a smooth-running version of Netflix, will also be among the thousands of third-party apps available at launch from the Amazon Appstore.

    Amazon's Silk has received a lot of coverage because it works differently from some other web browsers: some of the work of loading web pages is done by Amazon's EC2 cloud service, and some is handled by the Fire itself. Data is optimized for the tablet, so as the company explains, a 3-megabyte image may be crunched into a 50-kilobyte file. Silk also analyzes how other users typically navigate a particular web site you're visiting and based on the behavior, tries to predict what you'll click on next and pre-load it.

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