Impressive screen; great sound; huge media library; Smooth performance.
Lack of customisation for features; too many ads included as default; less media-centric devices are more practical.
The Amazon Kindle Fire HD is mainly designed for buying and viewing content – rather than being productive. However, if you just want to be entertained, rather than using the device for work, it’s the best of the bunch.
Switch on the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and you’ll get the message loud and clear – Amazon wants you to buy stuff and isn’t afraid to let you know it. The advert appears as soon as the device is switched on. Continue to the homescreen and you’ll be confronted by even more ads, sitting underneath the carousel that shows what you already own.
The Kindle Fire HD has not been designed for people who want to do some work, contact friends and use some neat apps to make their lives easier. Oh no – it has been designed to help you enjoy reading books, playing games and listening to music – all of which you’ll be buying from Amazon, of course. The Amazon Appstore is impressive – it’s simple to buy from because it is linked to Amazon’s existing purchasing system, so you can buy from a source you know and trust, and then access your product from any number of devices that are linked to the cloud.
And this is where it gets a bit strange – because the basic Kindle Fire HD only has 16GB of onboard storage, with no option for expansion – and yet it’s obvious that they want you to buy lots of content. So where to keep it all? Well, Amazon has surmounted the problem by allowing users to store their content on the cloud, and then download or stream it onto the tablet when they want. Mind you, this is a portable device that only has Wi-Fi connections, so how often you’ll be able to use the cloud access is debatable.
This may not be a reason not to buy for the majority of people, but it’s certainly worth considering if you like to have a whole heap of films and music to hand when you’re out and about.
You might also like to know that a mains charger will not be in the box when you open it, so you’ll want to make sure you add that to your purchase, or you’ll be waiting for the device to charge up via your computer before you get to play with it.
Speaking of charging, battery life is better than average, but not outstanding. Turn down the screen brightness and just use the device for reading and you’ll get a day out of a full battery – but start watching HD video on full brightness and the juice will drain away in a little over four hours.
Skip the ads?
The Kindle Fire HD comes in at £159 for the 16GB model – and the reason Amazon can sell it at this price is because the device is littered with adverts. There are ads on the lockscreen, which aren’t really an issue – but when they appear on the homescreen they take up a lot of space.
Happily, if you decide to stump up a tenner, you can choose to opt out of special offers (that’s adverts to you and me) and do away with them altogether.
Downloading and streaming is a major part of the Kindle Fire HD experience, so it’s good news that the dual-antenna, dual-band Wi-Fi is there – as long as your Wi-Fi connection is strong, you’ll carry on with little in the way of stutters or lag.
This is a multimedia device, and for this use the design is perfect. It’s big enough for watching films and the speaker gives a good audio experience. But it’s not so big that it is uncomfortable to hold and use as an ereader. If you’re going to curl up on the sofa you don’t want to be trying to hold up a great big 10-inch device. Weighing in at 395g, it’s a nice weight to hold, and offers a good-sized bezel around the display for your thumbs to rest upon.
It feels solid in the hand and the rubberised back makes it easy to grip – a slim, shiny plastic band across its back is where the speakers are housed. There are also physical volume keys – something missing from earlier devices.
Another positive in the Fire HD’s favour is that you are automatically given an Amazon Prime account for one month – this offers free one-day delivery on Amazon purchases (really useful, especially around Christmas), as well as an ebook rental offering and other services.
One disappointment is that the Kindle Fire HD is not helpful when you’re trying to use file formats it’s doesn’t like. May of the video files you’ll want to play will be .avi files, but you’ll have to download a VLC app to play them.
However, once you’re viewing them you’ll be treated to a fantastic 1280x800 HD experience. Games look fabulous too – we tried some graphically intense games such as Contract Killer and The Dark Knight Rises and they ran superbly, thanks to the Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core and 1.2GHz dual-core chip.
Some users will find the lack of customisation options frustrating. You can alter the homepage in some ways, but its layout will always remain the same. This will be particularly annoying if you’re used to Android and its customisation options. Also, the fact that the device keeps trying to send you to its stores to spend money may get a tad irritating over time.
There are plenty of entertainment options, but some of the apps that you may have come to rely on are not included – for instance, there’s no Firefox or Chrome – you’re restricted to a homemade browser called Silk. It’s okay, but the lack of other options is annoying. As is the omission of Gmail, YouTube and Dropbox to name but a few.
All in all the Kindle Fire HD is made for viewing and buying content – in effect it’s a personal shop window that costs £150 to buy. But it’s still an impressive device. If you’re just after something on which you can read, watch films and listen to music while out and about, it will do the job well, but do make sure that’s all you really want before spending your cash…
|Type of device||Tablet|
|Operating System||Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich|
|Dimensions||193 mm x 137 mm x 10.3 mm|
|Processor speed||1.2GHz dual-core|
|CPU||TI 1 GHz TI processor (dual core)|
|Screen size||7 inches|
|Memory card slot|
|Special camera features||Front-facing camera only|
|FM Radio description||-|
|Handsfree speaker phone|
|What's in the box||USB charging cable, wall plug, guide|
|Talktime||11 hours of general use|
|Battery life multimedia||-|
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