It’s been a while since I’ve really gotten in depth with anything regarding tablets, so I think that warrants an article based on the newest adventures of yours truly. The last article I wrote regarding tablets mentioned that I had recently bought a first generation iPad; a tablet that would otherwise be good for somebody who didn’t have a phone with a better resolution and processor. It was clear that the iPad was outdated, and the size was too big for my clumsy hands. I decided to go shopping for a smaller tablet and retire my iPad to my younger brother. After doing a bit of shopping and research, I ultimately decided to go with the Kindle Fire HD (7-inch).
The Kindle Fire HD features a 1280x800 resolution screen with 720p video playback. It has a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, and claims to have 11 hours of battery life for reading, listening to music, or playing with apps (subject to change depending on usage). The device uses Dolby Audio, dual-driver stereo speakers. The device comes with either 16GB or 32GB onboard storage.
I had previously owned the first generation Kindle Fire for a brief while, and I can honestly say that the stock interface was very disappointing for me. It was laggy, ugly, and completely uncustomizable despite the fact that it was running a version of Android. It wasn’t until after I rooted the device that I really enjoyed using the device. The Kindle Fire actually made a decent Android tablet. I was afraid that after getting the Kindle Fire HD I would experience the same type of disappointment, but thankfully I’ve had a very different experience with it.
There are some things I will point out that I didn’t like the device, and I only point it out first because it’s very “in your face” about some things. To name one, the lock screen and the initial home screen have advertisements plastered to them, and unless I shell out $15 there’s no way to disable them. As Amazon put it:
“With Kindle Fire HD there will be a special offers opt-out option for $15. We know from our Kindle reader line that customers love our special offers and very few people choose to opt out. We're happy to offer customers the choice.”
I feel like they might be pushing it just a little bit, because I don’t know one single person who likes to have sales pitches in their face every time they want to use their tablet; maybe I’m just talking to the wrong people. Regardless, I suppose $15 isn’t too bad to take away the annoyance of such ads, but I would be happier if I didn't have to go through that trouble to get rid of it. I feel like they could have at least given us the option to customize our own lock screen if nothing else, but you can't win 'em all I guess.
Aside from that, there’s not much else I don’t like about the device. There is a noticeable difference in how smooth the transitions are on the Kindle Fire HD from the Kindle Fire, and that’s a big improvement right there. The display is extremely crisp, although not quite as sharp as the display on similar tablets like Barnes and Noble’s Nook HD. That was something I already knew before purchasing, but I was willing to give that up because Amazon is a company I frequently use for my online shopping and they have always responded well in any case I’ve needed to contact customer service.
When it comes to e-Reader-turned-tablet type devices, one of the first things I wonder about is the app store selection. Is it mainly for videos, books, and audio books? Or does it offer some mainstream selection that’s also offered to popular tablets? Through my research I’ve found that the Kindle Fire HD has a much broader app selection than the Nook HD, but it does have some restrictions as it uses a Kindle specific app store instead of Google Play. Certain apps, like your standard Google Apps, aren’t available out of the box. If you’re persistent and handy with technology, you can attain these applications but it will require a bit of work.
The real selling point for me was the Kindle FreeTime. This is a godsend for those of you with kids who love to play with your gadgets, but sometimes get into the parts of the device where they can delete key files that may be important to you, or call somebody who they shouldn’t necessarily be calling. With Kindle FreeTime you can set up your child’s profile with whatever apps you will allow them to use, and by setting up their age and interests it recommends free (child safe) apps that they can download to their own profile as well if you allow it. My son knows none the wiser and doesn’t think he’s being restricted when I hand him my tablet, and he’s happy as a clam. There is a subscription cost after the first month - $2.99 for a single child with a Prime membership or $6.99 for a family (6 profiles) with a Prime membership; $4.99 for a single child without Prime or $9.99 for a family without Prime.
Overall, the Kindle Fire HD (7-inch), despite having limitations on customization, does what it’s supposed to do without a hitch. Videos, books, and images are clear and a pleasure to look at. The size and shape of the device feels comfortable in the hands, and there’s no strain on the thumbs for me when using the keyboard. The front-facing camera is a nice touch, so the option of taking pictures (albeit, not the greatest resolution) is there along with the opportunity to video chat using Skype calls. The hardware itself looks and feels solid and sleek; the only complaint I have is the buttons are a little difficult to feel for at first, but you get used to it. When it comes to web browsing, Amazon has a custom browser installed called Silk, which works okay, but it’s nothing to write home about. I’ve already installed a third-party browser for my Kindle Fire HD.
Overall, I would definitely recommend the Kindle Fire HD (7-inch) to somebody who plans to use it for reading e-Books or even just to have a larger screen to watch movies on in HD. If you want a fully functional Android tablet, you might be more interested in the Nexus 7 – same price, more customization, and more functionality. Overall I feel that the Nexus 7 gives you more for your money, but you might find that some of the benefits of the Kindle Fire HD may justify the price for you like it did for me. The Kindle Fire HD would make a great gift for any bookworm this holiday season.