The Kindle Fire is Amazon’s fist attempt into the crowded tablet market. Their approach is to give you an easy to use interface and tightly integrate all of Amazon’s services while keeping it at a low price. Does Amazon carry out their missions.
Hardware & Design
The Kindle fire is a slab style tablet with a 7 inch IPS display which produces great image quality and good viewing angles. the screens is behind a thick piece of glass which gives the Kindle Fire some heft and weight to it. The back of the device has a nice soft touch finish so it will feel comfortable in hand. You only have two ports and one button on the Kindle Fire with a USB port for charging and sync and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The only button is the power button on the bottom that is in the worst place possible for a tablet. You can easily hit the power button by accident when handling the tablet and doesn’t give you a good click when you push it. The speakers are on the top of the Kindle Fire when held in portrait mode which listening to audio externally is fine but they don’t work as well in landscape mode as audio is only on one side so you’ll need to plug-in headphones viewing content at that angle.
Internally the specs are average with a 1 GHz dual-core processor, 512 MB of ram and 8 GB of built-in storage that is not physically expandable since there is no SD card slot. For extra storage you will have to use Amazon’s cloud services such as Cloud Drive and Cloud Music to gain more storage. While having these services is good you will need an internet connection to use them and since this is Wi-Fi only you’re limited to how much content you can bring with you on the go.
Despite the storage limitation the Kindle Fire hardware wise its good enough to get the job done. There isn’t a front or rear facing camera which will disappoint a few but since camera’s tin tablets are not the highest in quality most people won’t notice. The design itself its sleek and professional looking and will remind you of the Blackberry Playbook by its looks.
Software & Usability
Looking at the Fire tablet for the first time without any prior knowledge you wouldn’t have any idea that it’s an Android Tablet running Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Amazon has skinned completely over the standard Android interface and have created their own “Fire UI.” The interface creates a simple one to two tap access to the content that you want. The home screen is like a bookshelf that has your most recently access content and shortcuts to favorite media and applications. The interface is split into down into sections for books, magazines, video, music, docs and apps. Each section gives you the ability to view content on the device and in the cloud and access Amazon’s store for any purchases you want to me. You can also go on the web using Amazon’s Slik Browser which takes the heavy processing parts of a page and renders theme on Amazon’s Cloud servers to give you a fast and more fluid web browning experience on a tablet. We went through an extensive tour of the user interface and some key apps. Check out the OS tour below and links to the key apps overview below it.
(Each Link will Open a New Window)
I will say that overall the user interface is great for a first time tablet user and is simple to navigate and get to where you want. There is lag in some parts of the OS and the browser needs update to make it smoother that what it is but this is best installment of Android 2.3 on a tablet I’ve seen.
For a first try Amazon has done a great job in creating a tablet that is easily accessible to everyone. It’s a great mix of a e-reader and tablet features. It’s focus is on consuming media and content and not necessarily creating it. This isn’t the tablet for work. Tables are still questionable in terms of real productivity and this one won’t answer that question. However for $200 you will get a media centric device that you will enjoy watching movies and TV shows, reading books and magazines, play a few games and listening to music.