Amazon Kindle Fire
Amazon Kindle Fire is a tablet rather than an e-reader, so out go the sunlight-friendly, backlight-free E Ink screens of previous Kindles and in comes a sharp, colorful, 7-inch 1024×600 LCD display. It’s based on the same hardware as the BlackBerry PlayBook, so it’s a very solid if somewhat mundane looker with a rather bare-bones spec (no GPS, camera or Bluetooth) – although the 1GHz dual-core innards give it power where it counts.
There’s nothing budget about the look and feel of the Fire’s bespoke interface. A scrolling 3D carousel flips smoothly through recently accessed media, apps and web pages, and Amazon puts shopping front and centre, with tabs for buying mags, books, music, videos and apps on the home screen. One Click shopping makes it scarily easy to rack up purchases. Storage in the cloud is free – or you can download content to the slim 6GB of usable onboard memory.
The all-new Silk browser is designed to speed up the web surfing by off-loading the hard work to Amazon’s nippy servers in the cloud. In practice, though, the Amazon Kindle Fire is noticeably slower to load pages than the latest Honecomb tablets and an aeon behind the iPad. At least Flash works fine, and Amazon promises that Silk will get faster as more people use it.
Although an Android tablet, the Gingerbread-running Fire connects to the Amazon Appstore for Android rather than the standard Market. Here you’ll find some 10,000 specially selected apps, and while most are great, there are duds – the Facebook ‘app’, for instance, is just a web link. Still, there are plenty of free apps on there too, and Amazon even gives one paid-for app away free each day.
With no cameras, Bluetooth or 3G onboard, the Fire’s no communicator – instead, it’s all about media consumption. The problem is, it’s just too small to be an all-rounder. That 7-inch screen is perfect for portable gaming and video, but for web browsing and magazine-reading the iPad wins hands down. Also, having just 6GB to cache Amazong’s media or store you own means you’ll have to be picky before long-haul travel.
Features of Amazon Kindle Fire
Around 5000 books are included in the ‘Kindle Owners’ Lending Library’, which lets you borrow titles for free at a rate of one a month, including over 100 New York Times best sellers. Sadly, the Amazon Kindle Fire‘s Kindle app is embarrassingly basic and it’s too easy to turn pages accidentlally, so a standard E Ink Kindle remains the top choice for serious ebookworms.
In the States, a Prime subscription will geive you instant access to over 10,000 films and TV shows. Videos can be streamed direct from the web or temporarily downloaded to watch via the Fire’s excellent built-in-player.
Music isn’t included in the Prime subscription (yet), but the well-stocked Amazon MP3 with Cloud Player is some compensation. Each of the Amazon MP3s you buy is stored in the cloud for free, and from there it can either be streamed to your Amazon kindle Fire or downloaded for when you’re out of Wi-Fi range.
Tech Specs: Amazon Kindle Fire
Screen size 7 inch TFT LCD, 1024×600
OS Android 2.3 with Amazon skin
Processor 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP
Memory 8GB (6GB accessible)
Connectivity Wi-Fi (b/g/n), USB 2.0 (x1), 3.5 headphone socket
Formats supported (selected) AAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, MP4, PDF, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, AZW (Kindle books), TXT
Battery 6-8 hours depending on use