As the processing power and graphics capabilities of tablet computers like the Kindle Fire continue to grow, their potential to compete with the laptop and netbook markets increases in kind. There are several models and generations of Kindle Fire tablets to choose from, and a far greater multitude of laptops, so instead of making side-to-side comparisons of processor speed, price, or storage space, it's best for you to carefully consider exactly what you intend to use your new device for, and how well-suited a tablet or laptop is to that use.

Interaction

Tablets like the Kindle use a touchscreen interface, which may alienate some users.
Tablets like the Kindle use a touchscreen interface, which may alienate some users.

The biggest differences between laptops and tablets are their physical forms and user interfaces. A laptop has a physical keyboard for typing and a trackpad for moving a cursor on the screen. The Kindle Fire, on the other hand, uses the Android operating system, which is designed to work with its touchscreen interface. Note that there is some overlap here; many new laptops have touchscreen interfaces as well as the keyboard and trackpad, and it is possible to use a physical keyboard with some Kindle models. However, the underlying user interface paradigms remain for the most part distinct. If you are accustomed to a graphical operating system like Windows, Mac OS, or some type of Linux, the Android OS used by the Kindle may feel limiting or unfamiliar. Multitasking, in particular, has traditionally been much easier on laptops, although the latest Kindle has some capacity for it as well.

Productivity

The Kindle can handle many basic office tasks.
The Kindle can handle many basic office tasks.

If you need your device for any kind of professional design work, the Kindle Fire is almost certainly out of the question. Industry-standard photography, film, and CAD programs are not designed for the Android operating system or user interface, and the Kindle hardware is not suited for these kinds of high-performance tasks. If you only require basic office tools for your work, however, the Kindle may serve your needs: programs for viewing and editing Microsoft Office documents on the Kindle are available, and with an external keyboard, typing up correspondence and other common business tasks may be as convenient on the Kindle as on a laptop.

Entertainment

The Kindle can be used like a laptop for home entertainment.
The Kindle can be used like a laptop for home entertainment.

The Kindle Fire compares favorably with laptops for entertainment uses. You can watch high-quality movies and TV shows, either downloaded or through popular streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, on the latest Kindle models' high-resolution screens. The largest Kindle screen size is 8.9 inches, but if you have a Miracast-compatible television you can use it as an external display to watch in your living room. Video conferencing works fine on the Kindle, which like many laptops has a built-in camera. There are many popular games available for the Kindle, but due to the OS and performance differences most popular desktop/laptop titles are not compatible with the Kindle.

Battery Life

The Kindle's battery life make it suitable for portable use like a laptop.
The Kindle's battery life make it suitable for portable use like a laptop.

Tablets like the Kindle Fire and laptops are both designed for portable use, but of course all devices will need to be plugged in eventually. The newest Kindle model boasts a battery life of 12 hours, which is generally above the endurance of most laptop batteries. The Kindle is a fine substitute for a laptop in terms of on-the-go use.