Amazon Kindle Fire HD: The Only Review You Will Need

When Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos recently called the new Kindle Fire HD “the best tablet at any price,” he ended up triggering a spate of reviews that were nothing close to remarkable.

I recently had an opportunity to check out the Kindle Fire HD and it didn’t take much for me to notice how improved the Kindle Fire HD is over its predecessor but is this really the best tablet on the market regardless of price that Bezos promises us.

Design

Kindle Fire HD - Amazon Instant
Amazon Instant on the Kindle Fire HD has newer movies then Netflix

At first sight, the Kindle Fire HD is a thing of beauty it has clean modern finish on the outside with the Kindle branding we have come to expect. It has a slick 7” screen while the sides of the device have a headphone jack, volume rocker, and power / sleep toggle.

Along the bottom of the Fire HD you’ll find a Micro USB and Micro HDMI jack (which allows you to mirror content to a large display). The Fire HD has a strip of soft plastic backing that has the word “Kindle” and also has two speakers seated in it.

The device is no doubt thinner than the Nexus 7 by about .01 inches while this may not be noticeable to most, I definitely was able to notice it.

I found the Kindle Fire HD to be not only compact but light enough that it did not burden my hands while trying to read or catch a show in bed. In fact, I also had the Fire HD case that added some weight but allowed me to stay comfortable without the onset of fatigue in long durations of use without having a stand.

Display and The Specs

Kindle Fire HD - Magazines
I enjoyed the wide selection of magazines

The Kindle Fire HD in its 7” form factor and with its dazzling 1280 x 800 display will surely be plenty of real estate for many of those who have been overwhelmed with much larger tablets. In the Fire HD comes a IPS LCD screen, that surely is an improvement over what other tablets offer and seemingly might even be better than the Nexus 7 screen.

The Kindle Fire HD is packed with a Dual-core 1.2GHz TI OMAP4 4460 processor which does pack a little less punch then the Nexus 7’s Quad Core processor but I do not think the difference will be noticeable to most. Amazon claims a 11 hour battery life but in testing I found that I was only able to get about 8 ½ hours of use before the device’s battery was depleted.

 

Apps, Wifi and More

Kindle Fire HD - Advertisements
Amazon suggestions? Where have I seen these recently.

Notably the Fire HD is limited to apps from the Amazon App Store by default unless you side-load in the Google Play Store (a change that could potentially void any warranty). Considering the limitations of the Amazon App Store, I would say this is a major blow to the Fire HD. Its biggest competitor, the Nexus 7, has a native Google Play Store which supplies far more apps.

I found the wifi on the Fire HD to be swift and loved the MIMO dual-antenna technology that supports 802.11 a/b/g/n. Although, support for the experimental 802.11ac would have been a plus had Amazon added it.

The Carousel

Kindle Fire HD - Silk
Silk Web Browser in Action

Amazon bakes a custom UI into the Fire HD much like it did in the original Fire, Many may like the carousel, but I was not a very big fan of it. I felt the default experience on any android device should be vanilla android launcher or at least allow easy disabling of any custom UI, which Amazon did not.
The Advertising

The Kindle Fire HD is baked with advertisements by default. Although Amazon has downplayed how consumers will feel about these advertisements, I cannot begin to believe that anyone will really enjoy the ads or product suggestions because they are seemingly annoying and intrusive to some degree.

Amazon has promised that they can be disabled for a small payment of $15 but at the same time this also increases the total cost of ownership of the device and may rub some consumers the wrong way.

The Conclusion

I enjoyed my time with the Kindle Fire HD and it is a good device. I loved the HDMI capability and watching Amazon Instant shows and movies on it. I did find the advertising and carousel UI to be a bit of a buzz-kill, but that is just me. I think many will find the cost and design of the device to well make up for those two flaws.

The Kindle Fire HD priced at only $199 is definitely affordable for most and a good price for those needing something portable and less bulky then the larger tablets we have come to know.

Pros:

  • Price to Storage Capacity Ratio
  • MIMO (Dual Antenna a/b/g/n Wifi)
  • HDMI and Mini USB Connection Options
  • Free premium quality apps offered daily through Amazon App Store
  • Amazon Instant Video Integration
  • Unlimited Amazon Cloud Storage for All Purchased Content
  • Reduced Screen Glare is noticeable compared to Nexus 7 and iPad

Cons:

  • Stock Carousel UI
  • Advertisements by Default
  • Only offers a fraction of the apps compared to Play Store
  • Silk Browser (Inferior to Firefox for Android and Chrome)

 

Will you be purchasing the Kindle Fire HD? What are your thoughts so far? Share below in the comments!