Amazon Kindle Fire tablet

A tablet that fails to impress, as either a tablet or as an e-reader

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Amazon Web Services Kindle Fire
  • Amazon Web Services Kindle Fire
  • Amazon Web Services Kindle Fire
  • Expert Rating

    2.50 / 5

Pros

  • Easy shopping for Amazon books, music, videos
  • Smooth integration of cloud and local storage

Cons

  • Sluggish performance
  • Interface still has some bugs
  • Not as flexible and versatile as other tablets

Bottom Line

The 7in Android-based Amazon Fire will appeal to those who buy books, videos, and music at Amazon, but it will frustrate those looking for a more versatile slate.

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We ran some of the PCWorld Labs' tablet tests on the Fire, and found decidedly mixed results. It was the second-slowest tablet (of more than two dozen we've tested) at transferring files from a PC. On the SunSpider JavaScript test, the Fire was slower than the HTC Flyer (Wi-Fi) and every Honeycomb tablet we've tested, but faster than last year's original 7in Samsung Galaxy Tab and a slew of tablets with single-core, sub-1GHz processors and Android 2.2 operating systems.

Amazon bills the battery life as lasting for up to 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback, but those estimates are based on Wi-Fi being turned off. With Wi-Fi on, I found that my casual use of the tablet drained the battery surprisingly quickly. In about 3 hours, 45 minutes, the battery dropped from 56 per cent to zilch; I had brightness set to the default of three-quarters of maximum, and I used the tablet just for browsing the Web a bit, reading email, downloading several apps, and streaming a handful of tunes and a few minutes of video. Stay tuned for our full battery-life tests, which remain in progress.

The 7in IPS LCD screen carries a 1024x600pixel resolution, and bears an antireflective coating. The Fire also has a fairly obvious air gap between the screen's glass surface and the LCD panel itself. The Kindle Fire's screen was noticeably more reflective than the display of the Barnes & Noble Nook Colour when I compared the two side by side.

Amazon Kindle Fire: Conclusion

The Amazon Kindle Fire makes trade-offs to achieve a US$200 price. It's easy to dismiss some of the compromises and weaknesses of the Kindle Fire as the sacrifices necessary to achieve a price point, but the reality is that the Fire may not meet your expectations if you're looking for an Apple iPad 2-like tablet.

For those people who go in knowing what they're getting, and who want an inexpensive tablet that capably — though not spectacularly — handles their Amazon books, music, and video, the Kindle Fire's limitations may be acceptable. However, the Fire falls far short of providing a full and satisfying tablet experience.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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Read more on these topics: amazon, Apple, mobility, Kindle Fire, mobile solutions, iPad

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