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Amazon Kindle Fire expert review

Amazon's Kindle Fire is designed to take their ebook reader to the next level to compete with devices such as the Nexus 7 or the iPad mini. For its price point of £109 at Carphone Warehouse it comes in at the lowest price among the three but does it have enough to really compete?

Amazon Kindle Fire expert review

Pros

The Amazon interface adds additional features to Android. Instead of access to the Google Play store, you get access to Amazon's own content shops, filled with apps, games, music, movies and TV Shows. As Android users will know, there’s an awful lot of junk in the mass of the Play Store. At least any apps in the Amazon Appstore have been tested and proven. The unit itself works fantastically with it’s software as it is custom designed for the device, using its 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM to its full advantage, creating a very pleasant user experience.

Cons

As I mentioned above Amazon's own skin over the Android Operating System is also a bad thing as personally I find you cannot customise the device as much as some other tablets. Things like wallpapers, widgets and arranging your own desktop to suit your needs have all been stripped off.

I also found that Amazon’s browser that’s included on the device “Amazon Silk” is lacking quite a lot of features that most of us have become accustomed to with Chrome, Firefox, IE and Safari, Providing what feels like a basic web experience.

Design

Amazon boast that the design is "tough". Sometimes when manufacturers say this, you don’t really see the evidence, but even just holding the Kindle Fire in your hands you can feel the build quality, it does feel more rugged and reinforced than the standard tablet. The 7” Display only has 169 pixels per inch, so the resolution and picture quality is quite a bit lower than the Nexus 7 (216ppi) but for web browsing, eBook reading, apps and games it's more than fine. The Gorilla Glass adds to the sturdy feel of the unit.

Hardware

Amazon claim that the battery lasts up to 9 hours when you're reading, surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music. Battery life will vary based on device settings, usage, and other factors such as web browsing and downloading content. This is pretty reasonable for the device, which fully charges in just over 3 hours. 8GB internal with no option to add a microSD card might leave some users looking for alternative storage options.

Software

As I mentioned earlier in the review the software that Amazon have designed to run is both good and bad.

Positives:

  • Good selection of reliable apps
  • Reasonably simple interface, making it great for first time users to pick up and play with
  • All of Amazon's content is optimised for the device

Negatives:

  • Unable to fully customise the device with things like wallpapers, widgets and other quirky things that make the device feel morey yours
  • Having to run through only Amazon content you’ll find yourself unable to get most of the latest apps for quite a while

Agent verdict

Overall for the amazingly low price I think that Kindle Fire is a great little device when I look at it as more of an improved e-Book reader than a tablet. If you’ve got your Kindle at the moment and would just like to do a bit more on it, then yes the Kindle Fire is definitely for you. If you’re looking for more of a multipurpose tablet then I’d suggest looking slightly more up market, maybe at the Kindle Fire HD or Google Nexus 7. One last point that I’ve noticed with this device is they do not include a wall plug in the box, only the USB cable for charging your Kindle by connecting it to a computer. You'll need to purchase the wall plug separately if you wish to charge it via the mains.

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