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Amazon Kindle Fire Review

Amazon Kindle Fire

Posted: , 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

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

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

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


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

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.

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PhoneArena rating:
7.5Good
Display7.0 inches, 1024 x 600 pixels (170 ppi) IPS LCD
Hardware
TI OMAP4, Dual-core, 1000 MHz
0.5 GB 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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