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Amazon Kindle Fire Review

Posted: , by John V.

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The Amazon Kindle Fire is an Android 2.3 Gingerbread based tablet, but does it really matter? It is not a “with Google” device, so it doesn't feature Google apps like Gmail, YouTube, Calendar, Contacts and most importantly – Android Market. This means that at its core, it is Android, but what the user really has is an “Amazon OS”, relying on the Amazon Appstore and ecosystem. It has its apps, but it is not on par with the original Andorid Market. It is, however, curated, listing mostly quality apps compared to all the riff-raff available in Android Market. So, while you might only have a few options, they are usually good ones - like the Meridian Player we found - and that was Amazon's idea from the start. You can check the available apps on the Amazon Appstore site or download it on your standard Android device.

From a cursory look, some are probably going to be surprised that the Kindle Fire is an Android based device, but it’s hardly evident due to the extensive skin that Amazon has running on top of the usual experience. It minutely shows itself in some aspects of the experience – like the notification panel that’s accessed by tapping on the left side of the main bar. 

The Kindle Fire is an Android based device with an extensive skin from Amazon - Amazon Kindle Fire Review
The Kindle Fire is an Android based device with an extensive skin from Amazon - Amazon Kindle Fire Review
The Kindle Fire is an Android based device with an extensive skin from Amazon - Amazon Kindle Fire Review
The Kindle Fire is an Android based device with an extensive skin from Amazon - Amazon Kindle Fire Review

The Kindle Fire is an Android based device with an extensive skin from Amazon


Amazon’s approach with the whole thing is merely straightforward and uncomplicated. Right away, we find the 3D carousel of giant sized icons that show what has been accessed most recently – thus, allowing us to quickly move in and out of various apps. Swiping up and getting access to the area below the carousel, there is a bookshelf that displays some of the favorite content specifically tagged by us.  And to show off its ties to its Kindle lineage, there are accessible categories on the homescreen that break down to the newsstand, books, music, video, docs, apps, and web. When you select any one of them, we’re transported to yet another bookshelf-like layout where we can see items that are stored on the tablet locally or in the cloud.

There is a bookshelf that displays some of the favorite content - Amazon Kindle Fire Review
There is a bookshelf that displays some of the favorite content - Amazon Kindle Fire Review
There is a bookshelf that displays some of the favorite content - Amazon Kindle Fire Review

There is a bookshelf that displays some of the favorite content


As a whole, its functionality barely grazes what we find with full-feature Android tablets, but to tell you the truth, it’s an appropriate one to differentiate itself from the competition. Needless to say, power users will probably steer clear with this one, though, it’s suitable for those who don’t necessarily want to be bogged down by something too cumbersome to operate out of the box.

Amazon could’ve easily gone the very inexpensive route to power the Kindle Fire, instead, they decided to give it a modern processor to really substantiate its already stellar pricing. Hanging tightly with the big boys on the block, it employs a 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP4 processor coupled with 512MB of RAM, and honestly, it’s sufficient to handle most tasks with ease. However, we do notice that its performance is rather inconsistent at times, though, it’s never to the point stagnant or sluggish.

Specifically, it exhibits some fluid movements when scrolling through the recently accessed content list on the homesceeen, which adds some visual appeal with its 3D like carousel effect. But with other things such as web browsing or flipping through pages on an eBook, its execution can be choppy at times – thus, losing out in tightly tracking our movements. As we’ve stated already, it’s fast for the most part, and its consistencies are never downright to the point making it unusable.

 
Organizer and Messaging:

Unfortunately, there are zero organizer apps preloaded with the Kindle Fire, but thankfully enough, you can quickly remedy that situation by visiting Amazon’s very own dedicated Android app store. So whether you’re looking for a calculator or calendar app, there is a variety of alternative solutions to choose from – albeit, veteran Android users will probably miss the qualities found with Android’s native apps.

Good thing that typing isn’t a function we find ourselves doing a whole lot on the Kindle Fire, well, that’s because its on-screen keyboard can be rather challenging to use. Visually, it bears some resemblance to the stock keyboard we find in use by many Android smartphones, but even in landscape, its layout is on the cramped side – resulting in a reduced rate of input. In addition, its inconsistent performance results in smooth responses one moment, then moderate lag other times. However, things are slightly more manageable with the portrait option for the single reason that our thumbs are able to encompass the entire layout without much stress.

On-screen keyboard - Amazon Kindle Fire Review
On-screen keyboard - Amazon Kindle Fire Review
On-screen keyboard - Amazon Kindle Fire Review

On-screen keyboard


Aiding its potential, the Amazon Kindle Fire manages to tag along a very basic native email client – and by basic, we mean the bare essentials. First of all, this isn’t your typical Gmail experience that we’re all too spoiled with on other Android tablets, instead, it’s simply there to get you to quickly compose and reply to messages. Fortunately, the setup process is all too familiar, since it’s fairly straightforward by providing our email addresses and passwords. Of course, it’s able to set up almost all popular email services with no aid on our part. Besides having a universal inbox, it breaks it down to each particular account. Yes, it’s definitely an appreciable offering, but don’t expect its breath of functionality to be on the same level we expect on other tablets.

The Amazon Kindle Fire manages to tag along a very basic native email client - Amazon Kindle Fire Review
The Amazon Kindle Fire manages to tag along a very basic native email client - Amazon Kindle Fire Review

The Amazon Kindle Fire manages to tag along a very basic native email client



Internet and Connectivity:

The Webkit-based Silk browser does some magic in the cloud, where it processes things to offer a better rendering performance. However, it is far from being the smoothest thing we’ve seen. Not surprisingly, it’s able to load complex web sites like ours in around 30 seconds – even with Flash content and all! However, kinetic scrolling and pinch gestures don’t exhibit the most fluid responses, although it is more than tolerable enough to accept. 

The Webkit-based Silk browser does most of its magic in the cloud - Amazon Kindle Fire Review
The Webkit-based Silk browser does most of its magic in the cloud - Amazon Kindle Fire Review
The Webkit-based Silk browser does most of its magic in the cloud - Amazon Kindle Fire Review
The Webkit-based Silk browser does most of its magic in the cloud - Amazon Kindle Fire Review

The Webkit-based Silk browser does most of its magic in the cloud


As it stands, the only connectivity item featured on the tablet is 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi – and nothing more! So that means you won’t find GPS, Bluetooth, or any 3G cellular connection with it. Though, we’re not all that taken back by it seeing that it was something expected from the very beginning – especially at its price point.

13 Comments
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posted on 18 Nov 2011, 06:43 2

1. bossmt_2 (Posts: 430; Member since: 13 Oct 2009)


With some light hacking you can get the Android Market and added devices. On that note except for the Google Suite Apps Amazon Marketplace has most of the apps most people will use, I use it because they run some pretty sweet app deals on paid apps.

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 07:07 6

2. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


sounds neat for light users. almost like an introductory tablet for the older generation :)

that stuttering was probably caused by the system dumping information in the ram because it got too full and reloading more. That should be able to be optimized better with a software update. Kinda sad that they didnt go with a higher amount of ram though. But for people that are just gonna use it for media, they probably wouldnt even notice or care.

posted on 20 Nov 2011, 06:52

10. CellularNinja (Posts: 302; Member since: 27 Sep 2011)


@remixfa:

Really dude? The older generation? No not really.

I want the Kindle Fire and I ain't old, I am 16 and have a Windows Phone and Android device and an iPad, I don't want it because other devices are too confusing, but because I am very involved in the Amazon ecosystem, I purchase stuff from there all the time, and they have all the media I need (News, Mags, Books, Music, Movies, TV, Apps)

So it's not because I'm to old or stupid to understand a normal android tablet, it's because this is what fits alot of peoples needs, for a great price.

posted on 20 Nov 2011, 10:31

11. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


you misunderstand my point.

im not worried about the younger generation. anyone under 25-30 is pretty much born wired into electronics. The majority of the older generation has trouble understanding the value of such devices (i deal with it every day) as they didnt use anything like this in their life. The low cost of entry and easy use set up will help them decide to take the chance on this "new" tech. Hence, "introductory tablet for the older generation".

Someone who is unsure if they are going to use it or not is more than likely not going to drop 600 on an ipad or Tab, but this super cheap price wont have that problem as often.

I didnt say anything about the younger generation, and i didnt say it was ONLY for old people. Dont misconstrue comments.

posted on 21 Nov 2011, 13:37 1

14. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)


Not sure it's that CellularNinja "misconstrues comments," it's that your comment was viewed almost as an insult to younger users.

A proper reply to his comment would have been, "Sorry, I didn't mean for my comment to be taken that way, let me rephrase." Rather, you said, "you misunderstand my point." Really, it's your inability to clearly state your point that caused the issue.

It's like saying, "Your confused, let me explain to you why you're an idiot."

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 09:25 2

3. jamrockjones (Posts: 345; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


Well said.

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 10:46 4

4. Mercenary (Posts: 61; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)


Amazing tablet for a 200$ cost.

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 11:26

5. The_Miz (Posts: 1496; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)


Meh, from all the issues listed, I rather just buy an iPad instead.

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 12:20 10

6. ElectroManiac (Posts: 47; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


Miz you will buy an iPad even if the Kindle Fire is a god-send like tablet and the iPad is a turd with an Apple logo.

In other words you will buy an Apple product over any other product no mater what.

Stop pretending that you care.

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 12:53 2

7. Commentator (Posts: 2387; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


No crap. Even without all the issues listed, I'd rather buy literally any other tablet out there (okay, maybe not one of those cheap Android 2.x.x tablets), but that's okay for Amazon because I'm not in their target demographic. I'm a tech-oriented youth who is attracted to large screens, snappy performance, and getting the most I can possibly get out of a tablet, regardless of price. Therefore, I'm more attracted to something like the Transformer Prime or the iPad 2. Amazon is targeting someone COMPLETELY different, given its price-tag and established competency in e-readers. For instance, one target demo I see for the Fire is middle-aged women who want to read a book and carry out basic features of a tablet without having to pay triple the price for an iPad (i.e. my mom). I've noticed that people on this site are very quick to deride a product without realizing that just because the product doesn't appeal to you doesn't mean the product doesn't appeal to anyone else, with the exception of the Xoom, of course, which didn't appeal to anyone.

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 13:57 1

8. Dr.Phil (Posts: 904; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


It's a $200 tablet yet we are trying to hold it to some high standards. I can't wait to see the Nook Tablet's review...

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 17:27 3

9. downphoenix (Posts: 2302; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


Seems great for the price. Not a replacement for an ipad or transformer but for half the price you cant go wrong if you're mainly in it for media, web browsing, and books. Other tablets at that price range normally are much worse in performance.

posted on 21 Nov 2011, 12:45

13. MOTOROLA_is_Cool (Posts: 9; Member since: 30 Oct 2011)


Im Going to get an kindle fire Because of its price and only use the amazon market on my Droid.

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Display7.0 inches, 1024 x 600 pixels (170 ppi) IPS LCD
Hardware
TI OMAP4, Dual core, 1000 MHz
512 MB RAM
Size7.48 x 4.72 x 0.45 inches
(190 x 120 x 11.4 mm)
14.57 oz  (413 g)

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