Hands On Review of Amazon Kindle Fire – True iPad Competitor has Arrived

Posted by Mayank on November 14, 2011 in Kindle,Review

The wait is finally over – 6 weeks have passed since Amazon introduced Kindle Fire for $199 and the wait is now over. Amazon Kindle Fire has been shipped and has started arriving at the homes of those who pre-ordered it. Initial reviews of Amazon Kindle were all positive and it certainly seemed like an extremely great buy for the price it was being offered. Now is the time for the actual hands on review of Amazon Kindle Fire.

Hardware:

The Kindle Fire looks pretty close to the PlayBook. The looks are simple and style is probably not in Amazon’s agenda (at least as of now). In fact Samsung Galaxy Tab, Playbook and Kindle Fire look like identical twins with the exception that the name “kindle” is subtly embossed across the back unlike the other two and is only really visible if you hold the tablet at an angle in some light.

Kindle Fire is slightly smaller than Galaxy Tab and Playbook, but considerably heavier than Galaxy Tab. When you hold it in hand, it feels pretty solid and feels like you have a quality product in your hand. There is a USB port and an audio potput

Build:

Kindle Fire is powered by 1GHz TI OMAP processor and is paired with only 512MB of RAM. You get a mere 8GB of storage, but unlimited storage in Amazon Cloud. Less Storage and Wi-Fi option only for Amazon Kindle means that you will have to load your tablet before you go offline, else you might have to content with what you’ve already read, seen or listened to.

Display:

Display is a 1024 x 600 IPS LCD panel that measures 7″ diagonally. Color reproduction is good and viewing angles are just as broad as you’d expect from an IPS panel. Pixel density of 169ppi leaves a bit to be desired. Unlike other E Ink Kindles, it has its own backlight, which means you can still use it in pitch black. However, this interface is not always optimized for 1024×600 resolution on a 7-inch screen. While the bookshelf and items on it are large, some of the controls are tiny.

Battery Life:

Clearly not amongst the leaders in the pack, the battery life is not the so impressive of about 7 hours.

Performance:

Kindle Fire does not deliver a smooth and seamless performance as an iPad 2.

Software:

Kindle Fire runs on the customized version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

User Interface:

Your first experience with the Fire will be with a beautiful lock screen showing close-up imagery of abstract things — heads on a typewriter, freshly sharpened pencils, well-used fountain pen nibs. Writers will feel inspired by these poignant pics but anyone who likes customizing their home screen won’t. There are no widgets to trigger here, just a thin arrow that you must drag left to get in. It’s situated too high, in the middle of the screen, making it a bit of a clumsy reach. Choose to lock your device with a numeric code and you’ll be stuck with the even more unfortunate Gingerbread number pad, which doesn’t scale well on a display this size.

Kindle Fire is not much larger than my original Kindle (only 5 ounces heavier), reading on the device is a joy. The Kindle Fire’s one physical button is only used to put the device to sleep, turn it off completely and turn it on. Its placement is a bit odd – The button sits on one narrow side! Not sure what prompted Amazon to keep the home button there.

Amazon Fire introduced a new tab-based browser named Silk. Silk, on most of the occasions was as fast as promised. Some pages zip in, but other times Silk would stall out and refuse to load a page. Amazon claims that the experience will get faster as Amazon’s servers cache more page info.

Consuming Content:

Kindle Fire has room for improvement when listening to music, watching videos and magazine reading. You’ll find a few things annoying and a few things great about these. However, the reading experience is about what you’d expect from a Kindle. By default you get black text on a white background, but you can change it to white text on black ground or even brown text on a yellow. You can dynamically change font size, line spacing and margins. You have 8 fonts to chose from.

Conclusion:

Amazon Kindle Fire simply works. It is a pretty damn smart tablet and works seamless from the moment you turn it on to download music from Amazon Cloud, watch movies, listen music etc. It comes with a 2 month of free Amazon Prime subscription. Amazon prime members get one free book rental per month. Everyone gets to download a paid app for free every single day from the Android store.

There have been few issues reported like the page you’re looking at remains upside down, the device does not shut down, but simply drops you out of what you were doing — reading a book or magazine, or looking at the home screen. The latter sometimes blanked out and reappeared. These issues can easily be addressed with software upgrade, which we think might be coming soon.

Overall if you see, these are minor issues when you look at all you’re getting for $199. The nearest competitor, Nook costs $50 extra. Kindle Fire provides you books, music, movies, apps/games, magazines, multi-tasking, universal search, easy access to anything you have in Amazon’s cloud. It is a serious competitor for iPad and will create a new lost cost segment for the tablet market.

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