This holiday season tablets are dominating shopping lists – but which tablet should you buy? One tablet that has been getting a lot attention lately is Amazon’s Kindle Fire. But for $200, is it a worthy tablet? Well, we brought one and tested it, here’s our review:
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5
We ordered our tablet like you will – through Amazon. Shipping was free for the $10 Gift Card (we bought it to buy apps and not have to give Amazon a credit card, more on that later), and the standard free shipping took the five days Amazon promised. The Kindle Fire arrived in Amazon’s plain cardboard box, but the inner carton, containing the Amazon Kindle was equally bland.
Amazon is actually losing money on the Kindle Fire (industry insiders say it costs around $219 to make each Kindle Fire), so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they spent absolutely no money on packaging.
After opening the box, we removed the tiny tablet from the protective plastic sleeve and plugged the device in per the instructions (which were also almost non-existent) with the included charging cable. The cable, is longer than the iPad’s, but it’s still extremely short. There was also a flash card sized instruction card – which basically told us to plug the device in and where the power button was – beyond that, not much else was in the box.
With your purchase of the Kindle Fire, buyers also receive a free one-month trial for Amazon Prime (a $79 annual fee), Amazon’s streaming video service and free shipping on Amazon orders. If you’re already an Amazon customer or have considered becoming one, it’s a great way to test drive Prime.
For $200 the Kindle Fire stacks up pretty well against the iPad. Amazon’s 7.5 inch tablet full color tablet has full touch screen functionality – but there’s no camera or microphone. At 414 grams, it’s one of the lightest tablets out there, but still feels good in your hand. Pressing the power button on the end started the Kindle Fire up almost instantly.
The screen resolution is crisp and vibrant – that is when you’re reading books or viewing media in the HD format. The case has a black rubbery back (with the Kindle logo on it) and is both comfortable and easy to hold. The device has two speaker ports on the top for stereo sound, a micro USB port and a 3.5 mm audio jack too, but the device doesn’t come with headphones.
Overall it feels pretty substantial for such a small tablet – and that’s one of the problems. The Kindle Fire gets a bit heavy after using it for it while.
The OS & Web Browser
Amazon’s dual core processor makes accessing apps quick and easy. Even after loading it with apps the device was still responsive although doesn’t scroll as gracefully through the apps as Apple’s iPad. When the device changes screen orientation it just snaps to the new orientation, again without the animation or grace Apple’s iPad has. Web browsing is klunky – as other reviewers have also noted. When the Kindle Fire versus the iPad in these regards the Kindle Fire falls short.
In almost every case, games, books or movies, the display was better and more enjoyable when oriented vertically. Movies stream quickly from Amazon’s cloud and using Amazon’s proprietary Silk web browser – surfing the internet was ok, although the screen size makes web browsing incredibly difficult in the vertical orientation.
Setting up the Kindle Fire
Before you do anything, you’ll also have to set up a Amazon account, which is free. Remember, we bought a gift card so we could buy apps without giving Amazon a credit card. Unfortunately, Amazon REQUIRES you provide a credit card to access their digital content – even the free stuff. This is a huge fail for Amazon who are trying to go toe-to-toe with Apple. If you buy an iPad and an iTunes Gift Card you can use the gift card instantly – and without giving Apple a credit card.
Calls to Amazon’s customer service indicated that they’ve heard this complaint more than once, but the customer service experience was also laborious and time-consuming, not to mention just bad – and this issue was so annoying – we seriously considered returning the device. Equally frustrating and disappointing was that we couldn’t activate the gift card we bought (at the same time we purchased the Kindle Fire) through the device.
For $200 the tablet is a great deal, especially when you factor in Amazon’s store, the incredible amount of content it offers and cloud support. We should also note, while Google Android Game Development has become more popular, there are very few HD Android apps, the regular Android apps work fine on the Kindle Fire, but even the best Kindle Fire apps like Monkey Preshool Lunchbox look blurry on the Kindle Fire screen.
It’s no iPad, not by a long shot, but it is a cheap, capable and study little tablet – if your gift getter hasn’t seen an iPad they won’t be disappointed.
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