On November 15th, Amazon released the Kindle Fire.  A tablet which is aimed at consumers that were looking for something simple, fast, and above all affordable.  When you think about it, you are limited to things you can do with a tablet.  A Majority of people use their tablets to check their email, watch videos, surf the web, and to do that at a price of $500 just sounds ridiculous.  Of course another appeal of tablets is their portability, and gaming, (which is growing in importance).  The Kindle Fire is a tablet that has all of these attributes but without the premium price. Instead for $199.99, you get a bigger bang for your buck.   

Hardware

  • 1 ghz dual core TI OMAP 4430
  • 512mb of RAM
  • Gorilla Glass screen
  • 7 inch IPS TFT 1024 x 600 screen
  • 8gb of storage (6.5 usable)

Design

When you first pick up the Kindle Fire it feels very nice in the hands.  The 7 inch screen does not feel too small nor too big.  The frame of the device is extremely sturdy.  There is no creaking or squeaking of plastic being bent as it would in cheap build quality.  The back is a soft rubbery like plastic, which feels nice in the hands and gives a better grip on the device.

There are no  cameras and only one physical button on the device.  It  would have been handy to have at least included a front facing camera for video chatting.  With no physical buttons, the Kindle Fire can become pretty awkward to navigate. You may find yourself stumbling to get to the settings located in the top right hand corner of the screen.  The only physical button that the Kindle Fire does have, the power button, has been horribly placed. When you hold the tablet you may find yourself accidentally hitting the power button numerous times.  It is located at the bottom of the device, and with the Fire’s small frame, your palms can easily hit the button.

Web Browser and Navigation Performance

The Kindle Fire was announced by Amazon with a new type of browser which Amazon calls the Silk Browser. It was made specifically for the tablet.  Before the page loads on your device it will head to Amazon’s Silk servers, which will  analyze every web component: the HTML files, the CSS, the JavaScript, and even the layout and design of the page. Then it will decide if it would be faster to load the content through the cloud, (servers) or locally on the device. In short, it formats pages to fit the Kindle Fire perfectly and is supposed to make the browser lightening fast.

Silk browser sounds amazing on paper, but in reality it did not match up against higher end devices like the iPad 2 or the Galaxy Tab 10.1, not even the extinct HP touchpad. Now don’t get me wrong, the browser is snappy and fast, it runs at a decent speed, but when it’s put up against higher end tablets we expected it to put up a better fight.  Scrolling on the device is nice and smooth, zooming in and out is functional, but nothing compared to other top tablets.

When navigating the device we did encounter some lag and the screen became unresponsive to the touch at times.  The lag we did not worry about too much, it was the screen’s unresponsiveness that was our main complaint. Lag can easily be fixed by a future update by Amazon, (rumored to be one coming out in less than two weeks), but the screen we are not so sure about as there is still a possibility of it being fixed by an update. Don’t let this be a major deciding factor in buying this device. (Update: The new Kindle update has been released and many bugs have been fixed including the following: unresponsiveness of the screen, speed improvements, ability to delete last process shown on the main screen carousel).

Features

The Kindle Fire is not your average tablet. It was specifically made to promote Amazon’s new video streaming, app, and ebook store. With the Kindle you have access to all of those features at a moment’s notice. The great thing about Amazon is you can purchase items without any hassle because of the seamless integration between your Amazon account and the tablet. If you have an Amazon Prime account you can receive tons of free video content to stream. The video market is expanding rapidly, so many good TV shows and Movies can be found on it already.  An incentive that Amazon has added to purchase the Kindle Fire is that you get a free 30 day trial of the Amazon Prime features which also includes free 2 day shipping for any purchases made on Amazon.com.

Fans of YouTube and Facebook will be disappointed by the Kindle Fire. There is no native app for YouTube or Facebook.  You must access the web browser to watch YouTube videos or update your status. There are rumors that Amazon will be integrating these features into the Kindle Fire in a future update. YouTube and Facebook app is an expected feature to follow.

Summary

Despite the Kindle Fires physical flaws, and the now gone software problems, it’s a great device.  It simply does what you want at a price you want.  The brilliant IPS display makes reading books and watching videos all the more enjoyable. It’s speed, though not on par with higher end tablets, is still great. Any problems we did encounter on the tablet, could easily be fixed in the upcoming updates Amazon will be releasing.  The Kindle Fire is a tablet for the average consumer. As for tech savvy people, the Kindle has a lot of potential. Ports of ICS and stock Android have already been created for the device. If you are looking for a tablet to give as a gift or for yourself, we highly recommend the Kindle Fire.

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Justin Duino

Justin Duino

(Founder | Editor-in-Chief) - I am currently a student at the University of Nevada, Reno getting my degree in Computer Science.I have been fortunate to work with some brilliant people in the technology industry and plan to continue so for the rest of my life.I am currently using a Nexus 5, a Nexus 7 (2013), and a Nexus 10. Additionally, I am one of the first Glass Explorers with Google Glass and loving it!
Justin Duino