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Amazon Kindle Fire Review: Popular With Good Reason

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The Kindle Fire marked the entry of Amazon into the competitive tablet market. This is a fairly unique move as Amazon are not strictly a technology hardware company, although in the last few years they have been branching into this realm with their e-reader product line. The Kindle Fire is a small tablet in the same category as the Google Nexus 7,  but differs by way of its price and content services. The question is, does Amazon’s tablet compete effectively with market veterans? Read on to find out.

Key Specs For The Kindle Fire

RRP: $199

Release Year: 2012

Operating System: Android 2.3

Display Size: 7 inches

Connectivity:  Wi-Fi /  Wi-Fi+ 3G

Cameras: n/a

Battery Life: 7.5 hours

kindle fire hardware review images from amazon

Kindle Fire: The Pros

Speed: The Kindle Fire is one of the faster tablets on the market. Since the upgraded version was released in 2012 this has only become more true. With the Kindle Fire, you’ll find yourself opening up apps and zooming around the menu system without a moment’s pause. That’s great news for people who find lag a big downer on their tablets.

Responsiveness: Along with its speed, the Kindle Fire is also one of the more responsive tablets on the market. That means it reacts to your touch commands without too much of a delay – a problem often reported among the lower-end tablets available. This makes the user experience more enjoyable, and improves the feel of the device.

Easy To Type: The Kindle Fire’s virtual keyboard is relatively easy to type on when compared with other tablets. Of course, there is always a degree of user-preference when judging these things, but on the whole it seems fair to say that the Fire’s keyboard is superior to many other low-end tablets.

Tough Display: One of the biggest concerns with any portable product that has a large screen is the resilience of the screen material. Nobody wants their expensive gadget to get damaged or look a mess, and screens are commonly exposed to environments in which this could happen. The Kindle Fire uses a very tough Gorilla Glass display that can hold up to some serious punishment without looking any worse for wear.

Weight: At 0.9 pounds the Kindle Fire undercuts most tablets for weight by some margin. This is partly due to it being a 7” screen tablet of course, but even when compared to others of a similar size it fares well.

USB Port: Despite its size, the Kindle Fire manages to include a USB port in its design. That’s a great strength as it makes it much easier to manage files on the device through a USB memory stick. This is something that you won’t find on many of the top tablet rivals.

Amazon Prime: While other tablets are able to interface with Amazon Prime services, the Kindle Fire does it perfectly. That’s because it’s been designed from the ground up with this in mind. Amazon Prime membership is $79 per year, and allows you unlimited streaming movie content, as well as a selection of free e-books to borrow, tons of music, games and more. The Kindle Fire is an Amazon content delivery system!

Price: Ok, this should be obvious, but the Kindle Fire is a steal at just $199. That alone could make it worth buying! 

Kindle Fire: The Cons

Storage: The biggest let down of the Kindle Fire is probably its storage capacity. Although it technically has a capacity of 8GB, the operating system takes up a large chunk of that, leaving only about 6GB free for user content. That’s small to say the least! When compared to most rivals it’s less than half the storage available (much, much less if you’re also including the large tablets).

The USB slot makes up for this to some extent by allowing you to use a USB memory stick for extra storage. However, USB transfer rates aren’t the fastest, so it can be annoying if you’re dealing with large files.

There is free cloud storage for all Amazon content, so if you’re mainly using this as an Amazon content interface you won’t have a problem. However, for more than that the memory is somewhat restrictive.

Battery Life: The battery life for the Kindle Fire isn’t that great. With moderate use it can last for 7 – 8 hours, but with the Wi-Fi switched on this plummets way down. Since tablets are pretty much meant for wireless connectivity, this could be problematic. It’s also an issue if you want to use this as an e-reader, which is at least partly what Amazon intends it to be used for.

Not Good In Bright Light: If you like to use your tablet in outdoor environments, or especially if you like to read e-books in the garden on a sunny day, you’ll struggle with the Kindle Fire. The display suffers considerably from reflection, and the brightness isn’t sufficient to make up for it.

Amazon Prime: While Amazon Prime is a great service in itself, viewing movies on the Kindle Fire isn’t without its problems. Because Amazon Prime content cannot be downloaded, only streamed, you aren’t able to watch Amazon Prime content while on the move. If you want streaming content, you’ve got to be connected to Wi-Fi.

Restricted Content: Although the Kindle Fire is Android based, it doesn’t support all Android Native apps. It’s also restricted as to which online media services it can connect with (a tactic to encourage membership of Amazon Prime). This is certainly an annoying limitation when compared to other tablets. 

Is The Kindle Fire Worth Buying?

The Kindle Fire is worth buying if you’re a die-hard Amazon fan with Amazon Prime membership. It does give you access to all kinds of great content from a single source so it’s hard to beat in that respect. However, it has been designed primarily with Amazon Prime in mind, so it falls short in some other key areas such as storage capacity. If you want flexibility, then you’re better off looking elsewhere, but if you’re happy to stick with Amazon Prime content then you could do a lot, lot worse, especially at this appealingly low price. Naturally, the best deal you’ll get is at Amazon for this one and you can check out their sales on them here.

For all tablets, we’ve also reviewed the Kindle Fire HD 8.9Kindle Fire HDSamsung Galaxy Tab 2, Asus Google Nexus 7, Toshiba Excite 10 and the Sony Reader. We also did a side by side comparison of the Kindle Fire HD versus the Apple iPad to give you an idea of the choices you have. It’s a big market out there for buyers now…just choose wisely and figure out exactly what you want your tablet to do for you.
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