Amazon Kindle Fire tablet

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

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.

Would you buy this?

I can't help but wonder how much of what I saw on the Fire was a design decision that sacrificed one thing for another. My streaming and downloaded Amazon Instant Videos always looked soft, and often pixelated. Text was soft, too, in the Newsstand and in books at some font and text combinations. (I liked the Lucida font best, and even then it wasn't as smooth as I've seen on the most-capable Android tablets, including models with similar resolution and screen size.) Even audio playback was wonky: Audio reached a reasonable volume and body for music, but sounded downright anaemic on videos played through the Amazon video player, and via the Hulu Plus app (other apps had fairly low volume, too).

For me, those trade-offs are simply not worthwhile, even to save a few bucks. What's the point of being able to procure video easily, if my videos are going to be soft, have artifacts, and not sound great?

Amazon Kindle Fire: Specs and performance

Tablets are more about usability than specs. That said, the Kindle Fire's skimpy specs clearly reflect the compromises that Amazon made to achieve its US$200 price.

Amazon employs a Texas Instruments OMAP 4 dual-core processor; in use, however, the Fire didn't feel like a dual-core tablet. It lagged on transitions, even simple ones such as turning book pages or rotating orientation; it also produced jerky animations and repeatedly generated pixelated video playback. It's unclear whether all of the blame lies solely with the 512MB of RAM — half what's standard on 7in tablets from companies like Acer and Samsung. Software optimization could also be part of the issue here; after all, Amazon's custom build of the Android 2.3 operating system could have some kinks, too. But in my trials, I became all too familiar with the spinning-ball wait indicator that appeared as something loaded, and I felt as if I paid with my time what I saved in money on the Fire’s modest price.

Some missing elements weren't obvious immediately, though. For example, the Kindle Fire has neither a front-facing camera nor a rear-facing one, and it lacks GPS. None of these felt like onerous omissions on their own, but they are standard amenities in the pricier top-tier competitive set, and their absence here means you're making a choice not to use your tablet for conducting video chat, scanning an image, or navigating your way around town — all of which are practical uses that you may miss having in the long run. At US$200, you’re getting what you pay for.

If you plan to pack this tablet with apps, music, books, and movies, you'll be disappointed: The Fire has only 8GB of storage space, and only 6.54GB is user-accessible. I found that it took little to blast through a couple of gigabytes of space, and even Amazon admits in its specs that the on-board storage can hold only ten movies at a time, for example. And unlike Barnes & Noble's US$200 Nook Colour and US$250 Nook Tablet, the Kindle Fire has no MicroSD card slot, so you can't add more space as needed.

Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Read more on these topics: amazon, Apple, mobility, mobile solutions, Kindle Fire, iPad
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?