- I have a Kindle Paperwhite and although I use the Kindle App on my iPad / iPad mini a lot, thought the Kindle Fire HD might be the best for a colour screen experience as it’s from Amazon
- I subscribe to Love Film (the Amazon equivalent of Netflix in the UK) and as LOVEFiLM isn’t (well wasn’t) available on the iPad until recently I decided that it would be good to try out the Kindle Fire HD.
The Kindle Fire HD is an Android tablet running a customised version of Android OS 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) running an OMAP 4460 dual-core 1.2 GHz processor and 1GB RAM isn’t to be sniffed at. The device size is 7.5×4.7×0.45 inch (190×120×11 mm) with a visible area of the screen of 6×3.5 inches (150×89 mm).
I decided to get the “With Special Offers” model, there wasn’t much really between receiving ADVERTS on the lock screen or without, but I decided that knowing Amazon I might actually like the adcerts, so plumped for the AD subsidised (cheaper) model. If this was any other company I would have paid extra to remove ads, but Amazon do suggest some good content and products, and I’m locked into the Amazon ECO system.
The performance I find is okay when you’re in a game or an app, or watching video, but moving along the carousel I find to be quite sluggish and can stutter quite a bit, just like the device is under-performing processor wise. Other than this, I find the device perfectly acceptable. To be frankly honest, I have similar problems on the Nexus 7, I think this is more of an Android problem as opposed to a Kindle Fire HD problem.
The Kindle Fire HD comes with dual (stereo) speakers, and these are extremely loud. Watching any videos on the Kindle Fire HD is bliss, it’s very very loud. Listening to music or watching music videos isn’t quite as good, the speakers have been over-powered and are quite tinny, so you get very little to no bass from the speakers. They’re great for listening to Audible (Audio) books, or watching videos which to be honest is really what this device is more geared towards.
The screen is a HD quality screen touting 1280 x 800 pixel display with a polarising filter and anti-glare technology built into the screen. There is still glare, even in a moderate to slightly darkened room, you can still see reflection off the screen depending on how you angle it.
I have a serious problem with the buttons, the power and volume up and down buttons are recessed to be flush with the case. Without actually looking at the buttons on the right side of the Kindle Fire HD, feeling around I cannot tell which are buttons and which are not. This for me is a big problem, the buttons should be raised slightly. If you picked this up in a dark room you wouldn’t find the buttons at all. Likewise unlike the iPad, the HOME button is a soft button, there’s no physical hardware HOME button to press to wakeup the device, it’s an on-screen button, so you can only wakeup the device by pressing the power button.
The Kindle Fire HD just like the Kindle Paperwhite has a magnetic detection, so if you go with a magnetic case and open the case it will wake up for you, this overcomes the above problem with finding the power button, but it means you have to have the case closed before opening it to wake up the device.
One thing to mention about the Kindle Fire HD is it runs a customised version of Android OS 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT expect to be able to get to an Android desktop, run widgets and customise the device. There is no way of doing this out of the box, the carousel you see when you power on the screen is the UI, that’s it. You have the ability to favourite recent App icons or movies or books or audio to the base of the screen under the favourite section of icons, but this is about as much customisation that you will get.
Kindle Software and Magazine content
The Kindle Fire HD has a good percentage of the Apps and Games available in the “Android Store” (Google Play), however the apps and games are served from Amazon’s own flavour of the Android Store. Not all developers are in both the Google Play store and the Amazon store, so you may miss some apps and games that are on Android but not on the Amazon store.
Many of the magazine apps like Zinio are on both Google Play and the Amazon store, so if you are like me, you can get all your monthly subscriptions of magazines on the Kindle Fire HD without any problems.
The Kindle Fire HD comes in two storage models, a 16GB and 32GB model. You can also get both “With Special Offers” (Ad supported) or “Without Special Offers” a slightly more expensive version that will not display adverts on the lock screen.
I must say I am impressed with the battery life, Amazon touts 11 hours battery for reading and I am seeing pretty good battery usage although most of mine is watching video as opposed to reading.
Amazon UK do give you One-month free trial of LOVEFiLM Instant video streaming for unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV series, however you can get this for any device by signing up to LOVEFiLM.
I do like the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, the 7″ is a sweet spot for tablets, and I am actually liking it more than the Nexus 7. That might be surprising for some but I’m not looking for a complete Android experience, I’m looking for a Tablet experience, and the Kindle Fire HD UI is a good experience. The two down sides I see with the device is the performance stuttering on-screen of the graphics engine when in the carousel and also the big border around the screen. Although the border helps you hold it more easily and not touch the screen, I find it a bit too big.