Kindle Fire HD Reviews from Actual Users are showing up at Amazon. Kindle Fire HD is getting very mixed reviews.
Maurine (TarzanPhan) will be adding her Kindle Fire HD thoughts and review in the near future. After getting my Kindle Fire HD (by Monday hopefully) my Kindle Fire HD review and thoughts will be up too. For now, let’s look at ACTUAL Kindle Fire HD owner reviews.
Kindle Fire HD Reviews – Statistics and Thoughts
This is as of 10:03 pm on September 15th, 2012.
- 5 star reviews – 62 out of 146. That’s 42.47%.
- 4 star reviews – 29 out of 146. That’s 19.86%. So 62.33% (approximately 3 out of 5) Kindle Fire HD owners give it 4 stars or 5 stars. This is lower than for Kindle Fire 1 and the eInk Kindles.
- 3 star reviews – 17 out of 146. That’s 11.64%.
- 2 star reviews – 16 out of 146. That’s 10.96%.
- 1 star reviews – 22 out of 146. That’s 15.07%. 37.67% (approximately 2 out of 5) Kindle Fire HD owners are unhappy with it.
That’s a surprise to me.
2 out of 5 Kindle Fire HD owners being unhappy is really high. Assumption (hopefully a reasonable one): A user giving a 3-star review or lower for a $199 Kindle Fire HD is unhappy.
It’s even more of a surprise given that Amazon is selling a device with really good technical specifications at a cut-throat price.
Kindle Fire HD Reviews – The Negatives
Please Note: The most frequent issues are in Bold.
The negatives according to the 1-star review Kindle Fire HD owners –
- No Flash Support. This is very strange. Wasn’t the whole point of getting a non iOS Device that things like Flash worked? Lots of complaints – especially since Kindle Fire 1 supported Flash. No Flash means lots of things like BBC Radio iPlayer don’t work and lots of websites don’t work.
- Annoying Ads Everywhere. The verdict is clear – Everyone hates the ads. They are everywhere and they are annoying. Quite a few people had no idea ‘Special Offers’ were included. Very disingenuous of Amazon not to mention it straight off.
- Recommendations = Amazon Ads. If you Pay to remove Ads – You still see Amazon recommending their Books and Movies. Lots of people upset that there are ads for Amazon content everywhere.
- Wireless Issues. Multiple people getting wireless issues.
- Freezing and Shutting Down Issues. Multiple people getting this.
- No Adapter included. This really is a strange and stupid decision. Lots of people upset about it.
- Amazon’s Carousel interface is still a pain. The Shelves is removed and instead you get recommendations of what else you can buy from Amazon. Lots and lots of complains about this.
- Facebook App not loaded by default. What a strange decision.
- Auto-Correct does not work in Silk Browser. They really need to name it something else. Perhaps ‘Cursed Black Widow Browser’.
- Camera can only be used for Skype. Note: This might change with time (or not).
- Favorites Shelves removed and replaced with Ads (for Amazon content).
- Email App not very good.
- Screensaver no longer has clock – only Ads.
- No indicator light to tell charging is complete.
- Wider than before and Kindle Fire 1 cases no longer fit.
- Silk Browser is slow.
- No GPS.
- [Update: Seems this is a wrong complaint and Text To Speech is actually present] No Text to Speech. This was from a handicapped person. I thought Kindle Fire 1 did not have Text to Speech either. So perhaps he moved to Kindle Fire HD from an eInk Kindle.
The negatives according to 2-star reviews from Kindle Fire HD owners –
- Horribly Intrusive Ads. Everyone hates the Ads – going as far as calling them ‘entrapment’.
- Ads disguised as Recommendations. Below the Carousel are Ads disguised as ‘Recommendations Feature’. It takes a special type of stupidity to replace the one useful part of the home screen (the Favorites Shelves) with Recommendations to Buy Stuff. These Ads are NOT REMOVED even after paying the $15.
- No Flash. This seems to be a Top 3 complaint (along with Ads and Recommendations being Ads and being everywhere).
- Cluttered Screen due to all the recommendations and ‘other customers bought’.
- Erratic Touch Screen. Multiple people got this. Very frequent complaint.
- Software is Terrible. Lots of people having problems with the software.
- Pure Content Consumption Device with No Personalization.
- Email App is not very good.
- Hanging and Delays. Constantly Freezes. This issue doesn’t seem to be very common but there are enough instances to make this a big issue.
- No Facebook App.
- No YouTube App.
- WiFi problems accessing the Internet.
- ‘Busy’ Interface.
- Buttons are really hard to see. Have to find them by feel.
- Screen can’t be resized while watching movies. 2.35 aspect ratio is small.
- Lack of a Charger. Again, lots of complaints about this.
- You end up accidentally buying stuff. What other customers bought = Stuff you can buy from Amazon.
- No Calibre Support (supposedly). Kindle Fire HD uses MPT so it doesn’t show up as a device in Calibre on Mac. Not sure what any of that means but Mac users might make a note. Update: Other people also reported not being able to use Calibre with it.
- Apps which worked on old Kindle Fire crash or freeze the new Kindle Fire HD.
The negatives according to 3-star reviews from Kindle Fire HD owners –
- Recommendations = Ads. Half of everything you see is trying to sell you on something else. Primary aim seems to be to expose users to things to buy. Recommendations = Super Annoying Salesman in Your Hand.
- Software is Poor.
- App Store filled with mediocrity.
- No Flash Player.
- No Charger.
- Does not support charge and play while connected to a PC.
- Apps that worked on Kindle Fire 1 sometimes don’t work on Kindle Fire 2. This really is a big goof-up by Amazon.
- Lots of stuttering and lag.
- No Folders or Collections.
- WiFi problems.
- No YouTube.
- Kindle Free Time – Only arrives next month.
- Stunted Google Support.
- Amazon Walled App Store.
- Non customizable interface.
- No way to search Lending Library.
- Very Few Apps available.
- HDMI movies did not play well on a 46″ LCD TV. Worse than Netflix quality (on same TV).
- GameLoft Apps purchased for Kindle Fire do not work on Kindle Fire HD. Ditto for lots of other apps.
- LED flashlight syndrome – whatever that means.
- Freezes while watching prime content.
- Reading books – average battery life of just 4 to 6 hours. This was based on just one user’s experience.
Negatives according to 4-star reviews from real Kindle Fire HD owners –
- Really Annoying Ads.
- ‘Customers Also Bought’ is very Annoying. Ads are everywhere.
- Bad Software.
- Processor speed is not very good. Nexus 7 is better. Note: Interesting since Amazon claimed they have a much faster Processor and Graphics Processor.
- Too Much Marketing.
- Good but not Great.
- Noticeable Lag.
- Have to search for hardware buttons.
- Black bars when watching movies.
- No micro-HDMI cable.
- User Interface is Unintuitive in the beginning.
- The Power and Volume buttons are hard to find.
- The Operating System is limited in some aspects.
- No GPS.
- Poor multi-tasking abilities.
- Can only import up to 250 songs to the Cloud.
- No Dropbox Support.
- Size is bigger. Won’t fit in some jeans pockets like Kindle Fire 1 did.
It’s getting really late here so leaving out the 5-star reviews. I think the reviews we’ve covered so far cover all the pros and cons and paint a pretty accurate picture of Kindle Fire HD’s strengths and weaknesses.
Kindle Fire HD Reviews – The Positives
Positives according to 1-star reviews from Kindle Fire HD owners –
- Great Hardware. Beautiful screen. Excellent Audio. Lots of people praise the hardware and pan the software and the ads.
Positives according to 2-star reviews from Kindle Fire HD owners –
- Screen is Gorgeous. Stunning Clarity. Almost everyone loves the screen.
- Great Sound. Dolby Quality Sound. Lots and lots of praise for the sound.
- Solidly Built.
- Device is Great. 5 Stars.
- Looks and Feels Great.
- Browser is Fast.
- Anti-Glare screen is really nice.
- Movies stream over WiFi without buffering.
- WiFi works well.
- Fast Internet.
- Nice Keyboard.
- HDMI out is great.
Positives according to 3-star reviews from Kindle Fire HD owners –
- Speakers are pretty nice – best sound on a device (portable device). Awesome Speakers. Sound Quality is very good.
- Great Screen. Crisp and Bright display. Video Quality is very good. Photo quality is very good.
- Easy use of Amazon content.
Positives according to 4-star reviews from Kindle Fire HD owners –
- Great Screen. Crisp. Rich Resolution. Not as good as Retina Display but better than iPad 2 (that’s what users say). Screen is truly vibrant.
- Sound – best on a Tablet so far. Sound of speakers is remarkable. Great Speakers. Even better than some laptop speakers.
- Better Software. Please Note: This sentiment was NOT shared at all by any of the Kindle Fire HD owners who gave it less than 4-stars.
- Ease of Use.
- FreeTime feature. Note: Not available yet.
- Built well and seems good for kids (because of its sturdiness).
- Glare is greatly reduced by the Anti-Glare screen.
- Improved Battery Life over Kindle Fire 1.
- Reading App has lots of features like Text to Voice, X-Ray, and Reading Immersion.
Again, leaving out the 5-star reviews since it’s really late here.
Kindle Fire HD Review Summary – Kindle Fire HD Reviews from Actual Owners
Kindle Fire HD Top 10 Pros
- Brilliant Screen.
- Great Speakers – best of any mobile device. Amazing Sound.
- Low Price of $199. Good value for money.
- Great for consuming Amazon content.
- Great at delivering content – that same ‘content consumption’ theme. Kindle Fire HD seems to be completely optimizing for buying and consuming content.
- Easy to Use. Lots of non-technical users mentioning this.
- Good Battery Life. Most users found the battery life good.
- Good new additions – Bluetooth, HDMI-out, front-facing camera, microphone.
- WiFi, for most people, is fast (fast download speeds).
Would have included FreeTime feature if it were already present. Lots of people excited about this feature – it isn’t available yet.
Please Note: There seem to be an equal number of people claiming ‘great responsiveness’ and ‘laggy and buggy’. A handful claim both i.e. very fast but lots of bugs. So not adding performance as a Pro.
Kindle Fire HD Top 10 Cons
- Ads are VERY annoying.
- Recommendations are just Ads for Amazon products. And they are everywhere.
- Software is Terrible.
- No Flash Support. Please Note: You can sideload Dolphin browser for full Flash Support.
- No Wall Plug.
- Browser is not good. It’s also slow. Very, very common complaint.
- Limited Range of Apps (even more limited than Kindle Fire 1). Apps that work on Kindle Fire 1 sometimes don’t work on Kindle Fire 2.
- Facebook and YouTube Apps not loaded by default. Hard to find.
- Email App is not very good.
- Erratic Touch Screen (not as wide-spread as above issues but a big issue if you get it).
- Difficulty to leave Amazon’s ecosystem. You can sideload apps but it’s not convenient and some things just aren’t possible.
- No MicroSD port.
- Camera can only be used for Skype at the moment. No rear-facing camera. Update: Camera works from the Facebook App.
- Extremely easy to make purchases. Listing as a negative because most users considered this either a negative or both a positive and a negative.
There are other problems too. You can look at the lists above to see which you might consider deal breakers.
My Thoughts after reading the Kindle Fire HD Reviews from Actual Users
The software seems shoddy and hastily put together. The hardware seems amazing. The Screen and the Speakers come in for some very high praise. The Ads seem like a big deal breaker if you don’t like Ads (the Ads seem particularly annoying and seem to be everywhere). The Recommendations feature just seems to be another set of Ads (and one you can’t turn off).
Kindle Fire HD does seem very easy to use and very fast (though you might be part of the 30% of Kindle Fire HD owners that seem to suffer from lagging and freezes).
Amazon really needs to do the following –
- Remove the ‘Buy This! Buy That!’ Ads disguised as Recommendations. I am dreading seeing this when my Kindle Fire HD gets here.
- Put a CLEAR, BIG notice on the Kindle Fire HD pages specifying that Ads come with the device and it costs $15 to remove them.
- Include a Charger. A wall plug can’t be more than $3 or $4 to Amazon (including the slightly higher shipping and packaging costs). A wall charger really should be included.
- Devote a team to improving the software. Enough of the 2-pizza nonsense. Get a proper software team working on this and make the software flawless (or close).
I found it sad that Amazon didn’t mention Ads in the Conference and that Ads aren’t mentioned CLEARLY on the Kindle Fire product page.
Unfortunately, it gets even worse. On top of Ads you have Ads for Amazon disguised as ‘Recommendations’.
The other really big flaw is the software being ‘absolutely awful’. Lots and lots of love for the hardware and nothing but complaints about the software. Lack of Flash and Lack of the Adapter are also big issues. Silk still being slow is another big issue. The Email App is supposed to be bad too. That’s another problem.
There seem to be way too many problems for a shipped product. Will Amazon’s goodwill with its customers give it breathing room? From the current Kindle Fire HD reviews it seems that users are willing to give Amazon some time to fix all the software issues.
Amazon is selling Amazon Mini-Stores
Amazon is hoping that people are OK buying an Amazon Kiosk/Mini-Store that also happens to be great for consuming the content you can buy at Amazon.
The current 3.5 star rating for Kindle Fire HD shows that this is upsetting some people. At the same time 62% of people gave Kindle Fire HD 4 stars or 5 stars. That suggests that a LOT of people are OK buying an Amazon Mini-Store – provided it is also great for consuming all the content they can buy at Amazon.
The Lack of Honesty about Ads is disconcerting
Here’s a very succinct 2-star review from Jack that captures my thoughts almost exactly –
$15 to remove ads when I spent $200+ on the kindle alone? And you are not going to include a wall plug? That will teach me not to rely on the quality of the first product.
My wife’s fire came with a wall plug and didn’t have ads pop up every single time I try to unlock it. The device is great but if this is the kind of cheap tricks it takes to make it look cheaper than it is this is the last one we get. Not going to pay $15 especially when it wasn’t even listed. In other words it’s something that the heads of Amazon knew would be an issue so they didn’t advertise that they would charge you extra after the fact. Cheap tricks.
Take the ads off and I’ll give it 5 stars. I can somewhat get past the wall charger but I’m sure not everybody has an extra usb adapter. Bottom line don’t do this. You have an awesome product. Don’t go the way of Apple relying on the name for people to overlook cut corners.
Amazon could save itself and customers a lot of trouble if it were Honest and Upfront about – Lack of Flash, Lack of Charger, Presence of Ads, Presence of ‘Recommendation Ads’ everywhere.
The software issues seem to be the result of Amazon rushing things and those can be fixed. However, the other things Amazon should be upfront about (ideally it should fix those issues too).
Kindle Fire HD doesn’t really deserve to win the Tablet Wars
I do trust customer reviews and these Kindle Fire HD reviews from real customers seem to show that Amazon isn’t really participating in the Tablet Wars. Its chances of winning the Tablet Wars are low and it probably doesn’t care.
Amazon is selling Amazon Mini-Stores that are also great for consuming content bought from Amazon. It’s an Amazon Kindle eReader + Amazon Movie Watcher + Amazon Music Listener + Amazon Shopping Kiosk. Amazon isn’t really selling Tablets.
It was foolish to think that Kindle Fire HD would somehow magically be a $350 Tablet sold at $199. What Amazon is selling is a Subsidized Amazon Mini-Store that is GREAT for consuming content bought at Amazon. It’s also GREAT for buying things from Amazon. If that’s what you’re looking for (An Amazon Consumption+Buying Device that’s easy to use), then Kindle Fire HD is incomparable. If you’re looking for a Tablet that does more – wait for Nook Tablet 2 and iPad Mini and Google Nexus 7 3G.