The Bottom Line
Nov 24 2011 - Amazon has come to the realization that most people are using their tablets to consume media and that is precisely what they have targeted the Kindle Fire for. The tablet is extremely affordable at just $200 which is hundreds less than the competition. To achieve this, users will be sacrificing some performance, local storage ability and any sort of cameras. In exchange, they get a very affordable tablet that is perfect for media consumption, especially when paired up with the Amazon Prime membership which comes as a trail with the purchase. For those looking to do more than read books, listen to music, watch video or browser the web, it is clear that the limitations may make other more expensive tablets a better overall choice.
- Very Low Price Tag
- Solid Build Quality
- Amazon Prime Trial Membership
- Sluggish Response At Various Times
- Navigating Between Apps Can Be Frustrating By Lack Of Home Button
- Speakers Provide Very Poor Audio Quality
- 1GHz TI OMAP (Coretex-A9) Dual Core Processor
- 512MB Memory
- 8GB Storage
- 7-inch WXGA (1024x600) Multitouch Display
- PowerVR SGX 540 Graphics
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless
- Micro-USB 2.0, 3.5mm Audio Jack
- 7.5" x 4.7" x .45" @ .91 lbs.
- Android 2.3
Review - Amazon Kindle Fire
Nov 24 2011 - Amazon's first entry into the tablet market bears an uncanny resemblance to the Blackberry PlayBook which isn't too surprising. Both tables were outsourced to the same design firm and Amazon was looking to get a tablet to market very quickly. In fact, the only way one will really be able to tell them apart is from the subtle branding logos on the front and back of each device. The other major difference is that the Kindle Fire lacks any sort of cameras on the tablet, one of the many changes to help drive down the price.
In fact, it is likely the $200 price tag that is going to drive many buyers to take a look at the Kindle Fire over the hugely popular Apple iPad 2 that leads the tablet market share right now. It is more than half the price of the competition but to achieve this, there were many sacrifices made to the features. This includes just 8GB of storage space which is one of the smallest in the market. A couple companies offer tablets with this small of storage such as the Acer Iconia Tab A500 but for the most part, 16GB is your typical entry level tablet. Amazon offsets this by offering free storage for Amazon purchased content in their cloud services. You'll just need to have network access to be able to use it.
The 7-inch display is going to be a compromise when it comes to Amazon's primary audience of book readers. The screen itself is the same IPS screen used in the Blackberry Playbook and offers some solid color and decent brightness. The resolution of the display is lower than most larger tablets or some newer 7-inch screens such as the Galaxy Tab 7 Plus. This means that reading books is going to be a bit more difficult than the epaper displays of the other Kindle models. Of course, they lack color and video capabilities so it is a tradeoff. The display works well enough but isn't as nice as other more expensive tablets on the market.
What is really going to set the Kindle Fire apart from other tablets is the software. At its core, the tablet is running an older Android 2.3 operating system originally intended for mobile phones. Amazon has done a huge redesign of the system such that many users may not realize that it is there at all. The focus is on media consumption particularly through Amazon's services including its App Store. The main screen consist of the carousel of recently used items. Below this is the pin favorites of the user. There is also access to categorized groups such as books, music, video and apps. Nothing too elegant with these sections but it works. The more annoying aspect is that there is no navigation bar visible when in applications or a physical home button. To get back or switch apps, you tap in the middle of the screen but this can often be either accidentally triggered or cause another function by mistake.
The Silk browser that comes with the Kindle Fire has a bit of controversy around it. In an effort to help increase the speed, something that is important with the lower system memory, Amazon uses a system of caching. To do this, it tracks frequently accessed sites and stores them in their cloud so they will load faster. This means that users essentially give up some privacy for the increased speed. Overall, it seems to work pretty well but there are times where it is clear that the limited memory comes into play and causes this to get sluggish.
In an attempt to attract more customers, Amazon is bundling a month free trial of the Amazon Price service with the Kindle Fire. While this started out simply as a free shipping plan for frequent Amazon buyers has morphed into much more. In now includes free streaming from a set number of programs and movies as well as the new lending library for reading books. This provides a huge amount of content to buyers for free at least for the first month. After that, owners will have to pay the standard $79 annual subscription fee.
Amazon doesn't list the capacity of the battery within the Kindle Fire tablet but it states that it should run for seven and a half hours of video playback with the wireless off. Now, most people will probably be using the wireless to stream their video rather than having it stored locally. In video streaming playback tests, the running time comes under this to roughly six and a half hours which is still good but far from the class leading iPad 2 with ten hours.