Obviously, comparing the Kindle Fire HD with every other tablet on the market would be a waste of your time and ours. So, in order to show you what really matters when you’re making your decision about what type of tablet to buy, we’ve broken down the Kindle Fire HD’s core competencies and then toss them up against industry standards within the tablet market. Without too much rambling, let’s see what the new Kindle Fire HD has to offer.
Amazon has released two versions of the Kindle Fire HD. There’s a 7” model and an 8.9” model. They’re pretty different in terms of what they have inside and what kind of functionality they can put out. So, we’re going to break down the 7” model to begin with and then take a look at the 8.9” model after that.
Kindle Fire HD 7” Breakdown
Screen: The most notable improvement to the Kindle Fire line is the screen upgrade. The new screen plays 720P HD video and is 1280 x 800 pixels in size. It’s a 7 inch screen, meaning it doesn’t have a huge size edge over other screen sizes within the market, but the LCD design is quite nice to look at. The Kindle Fire HD now supports multi-gesture technology as well.
Processor: There’s a Texas Instruments 1.2Ghz OMAP4460 processor inside that helps not only with performance, but with battery life as well.
Battery: The battery within the 7” tablet is rumored to last for 11 hours with continuous use, but it remains to be seen whether this “continuous use” is simply having a word document open or watching HD movies that fill up the entire screen. The battery charges from 0% to 100% in about 4 hours.
Camera: A front-facing camera is new to the Kindle Fire HD. It’s designed to allow you to make video calls just like you would on the iPad. There’s very little information about what type of camera is on the Kindle Fire HD (Amazon hasn’t posted any official information), but after a bit of quick testing, the camera quality is indistinguishable from most higher end webcams for PCs these days.
Connectivity: There is currently zero 3G or cellular network connectivity for the Kindle Fire. It’s Wi-Fi only. But a an added bonus with the new Kindle Fire HD is that Amazon has put 2 Wi-Fi antennas within the device to help boost the download and streaming speeds of it. It outperformed the iPad 3 hands down when comparing Wi-Fi speeds, but obviously failed when considering only the 3G or network connectivity.
Storage: The 7” version comes offered as a 16GB or 32GB model. Amazon is also offering the ability to store unlimited data in their cloud storage program, which is definitely a nice bonus.
Audio: Amazon has put in Dolby Audio stereo speakers into both the 7” and 8.9” version for clearer sound during movie watching.
Dimensions: 7.6″ x 5.4″ x 0.4″
Kindle Fire HD 8.9”
Apart from a bit bigger screen, what else is found in the 8.9” version of the Kindle Fire HD?
Screen: The 8.9” screen obviously had to get a bigger resolution for itself as well. The 1920 x 1200 HD LCD supports full HD playback, which is fantastic for things like Netflix and Youtube. There have been rumors floating around that the Kindle Fire HD doesn’t support Flash (aka Youtube videos) and this simply isn’t true. Getting on Youtube works just fine without Flash support. Just like the 7” version, there’s multi-gesture support.
Processor: A 1.5Ghz Texas Instruments OMAP4470 processor is included. It’s a dual core processor and is needed to handle the additional HD functionality.
Battery: 11 hours continuous use just like the 7” version. Both models take about 4 hours to charge from empty to full, which is not bad considering how long the battery lasts.
Connectivity: Instead of just 2 wireless antennas within the device, Amazon is offering 4G LTE connectivity as well.
Storage: The bigger model comes with 16GB or 32GB options when looking at the Wi-Fi only model, while the 4G LTE model comes in 32GB and 64GB options. There’s the ability to also have unlimited cloud storage with Amazon to store any data that doesn’t fit on the device itself.
Audio: See above.
Dimensions: 9.45″ x 6.5″ x 0.35″
Is it Worthwhile?
The ultimate question about the new Kindle Fire HD is, “Is it worth my while?”
In short, the answer is probably no. Although there are plenty of cool features found on the device, if you’re the tech-savvy type, there are much better deals to be found among competitor’s devices that make the Kindle Fire HD look a little outdated and annoying.
The first noticeable annoyances are the advertisements. They’re everywhere. Amazon has started putting text based ads at the base of the home-screen and on just about every app that you can dare to open. They’re not obtrusive, but it’s strange seeing advertisements on a device that you’ve already had to pay for. You can get rid of the ads for $15, but I’m not quite sure how to go about doing that.
Next, there’s the issue of the HD screen. Yes, Amazon put a fast enough chip inside of the device to handle HD video playback just fine. But if you want to put on some HD intensive games on your Kindle Fire, you best look elsewhere. The resolution is fine for higher-spec games, but the lag is sometimes a bit unbearable.
It’s a bit nitpicky to bring this point up, but the volume and power buttons are a bid hidden. It’s often a bit tough to find which button is which, but maybe after a few weeks of using the device it would be easier to figure out which spot on the tablet is designed for which button. For right now though, it’s hard to push the on or off button without looking at the side of the tablet.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning the operating system. Amazon is using Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). It works just as advertised and that’s a problem. While Android is a very stable operating system to use, it’s sometimes a bit slow to load. It’s not designed to multi-task very well and Amazon hasn’t implement any sort of way to switch between apps without first making your way back to the main screen to select a new app. It’s important to note as well that Ice Cream Sandwich is not the most current Android operating system either. While it works, it’s just not quite up to par with the newest iOS operating system that’s on the iPad.
Should you get an iPad you ask? The answer is also probably no. The price point of the Kindle Fire HD puts in a place where average tablet consumers can break into the tablet market without feeling like they’re buying a new laptop. The Kindle Fire HD meets the needs of most users, but it won’t be breaking any speed records any time soon. The newest iPad may be what you’re looking for in terms of multi-tasking and gaming capabilities, but the price may put some consumers off.
There are other Android tablets on the market, but with back catalogs of movies, music, and games offered by both Apple and Amazon, they’re quite possibly the dominant forces in the market at the moment. There’s a tough void to fill in the tablet market that no company has successfully filled. The Kindle Fire HD (both versions) is a great product for those that want what essentially amounts to a jumbo, HD smartphone. Other than that, it may just be another waiting game until someone gets things just right.