Kindle Fire Predictions for 2013 (Kindle Fire 3)

My predictions for Kindle Fire for 2013 -

The Bloody iPad Mini Wars in mid 2013

Apple is in a bit of a Profitability Pickle right now. It’s going to make very strong moves in 2013 and a Retina iPad Mini is possible. If not a Retina iPad Mini, a lower priced iPad Mini 1. The iPad Mini Wars will be a war of survival for the Kindle Fire. My prediction is that Kindle Fire will survive but be very badly damaged and that we’ll see huge Kindle Fire sales. We’ve already seen $50 off coupons on the already cheap $299 Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ and lots of discounts of $20 on Nook HD+.

In 2013, we will see a lot more Kindle Fire firesales.

Kindle Fire 3 Knocks it out of the Ballpark

In 2013, the new Kindle Fire, the Kindle Fire 3, will arrive and it will get a lot of things right. If you recall the eInk Kindle 3 – it really was beautiful. It hasn’t been bettered in my opinion. Seattle companies are good at V3 of their products. The next generation of Kindle Fire, the Kindle Fire 3, will be really, really good.

Amazon makes a huge grab for the Nook business

Reality is that Kindle Fire and Nook are weakening each other. There is a very strong niche for a Tablet meant for readers and movies and music. A Tablet for users in love with an easy shopping experience.

However, it isn’t big enough to support profits for lots of companies.

Google has played the great trick of convincing hardware vendors to make zero profits on devices that make Google money through search. That leaves Apple, Amazon, B&N, and a few select vendors smart enough to actually make money for themselves from Tablets.

Apple will probably remain first for 2 to 3 years (not longer because Apple’s need for profitability will drive it insane once the profits drop). That leaves the ‘Pepsi Spot’ for 2013 and 2014. Amazon is the natural heir but B&N is a HUGE thorn in Amazon’s side. It prevents Amazon from reaching economies of scale quickly enough to compete against the big Giant Tablets.

Amazon should, and will, make a grab for Nook Media as soon as Nook Media is a separate company.

Huge Shift to In-App Purchases in Kindle Fire App Store

Expect to see a lot of changes that encourage In-App revenues and developers who focus on In-App revenues -

  1. A Top Grossing List.
  2. Focus on In-App purchases in both free and paid apps.
  3. A huge increase in the amount of money apps make for Amazon and developers. Thus more focus on the App Store, and within the App Store, more focus on in-app purchases.

The interesting thing about in-app purchases is that the same person who won’t spend $1 to buy a game will get the free version and then spend $25 to buy stuff to ‘enhance’ the experience.

It’s a race to see who can sell users ‘services’ and ‘enhancements’ and ‘tricks’ the most effectively.

This might be a strange thing to put down as Kindle Fire prediction for 2013. However, it will affect Kindle Fire 3 and the Kindle Fire 3 ecosystem in a lot of ways. Software often dictates the evolution of hardware (and vica versa).

Books become relatively unimportant for Amazon (for revenue and profit purposes)

Kindle Fire is going to start selling more and more while Kindle Readers will sell less.

This will shift Amazon’s priorities for Kindles drastically.

People will be buying electronics and movies and music and apps and books from their Kindle Fires. Out of those, books will gradually see less and less usage because other things are EASIER to do on a Kindle Fire. The path of least resistance on a Tablet is not reading.

Amazon will start adjusting to this.

Why sell a user a $9 book that takes up 4 to 10 hours of the users’ time when you can sell the user -

  1. Stuff that is much more expensive.
  2. Stuff that is much more expensive when you consider money spent per hour of entertainment.

Unfortunately, Books will lose priority gradually.

Amazon doubles down on Screen and Sound

Kindle Fire HD is remarkable in that it did a really good job on Screen Quality and Sound Quality. To the point that it rivals iPad in one and beats iPad in the other.

Amazon is going to double down on both because it allows Kindle Fire HD to become an even better device to consume movies and music and books.

Kindle Fire is positioned against the iPad Again

Kindle Fire and Amazon got so much mileage out of the ‘Best Tablet at any price’ claim that it would be madness to not go up against iPad again.

A fundamental part of the Apple-loving tech press’ psyche is the need to show their perceived superiority. A challenge to that will never go unanswered – even if it means free publicity for Kindle Fire and the gradual erosion of the ‘Tablet = iPad’ association they themselves have built up.

‘Kindle Fire vs iPad’ will be a dominant theme in 2013 too.

A Kindle Fire with an IGZO Screen

Amazon has shown with the LTE capable Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ model that it isn’t afraid of going right after iPad.

It’ll continue that trend by bringing a Kindle Fire 3 IGZO to market. IGZO screens offer a huge advantage over existing LCD screens and will be enough of a jump to make Kindle Fire 3 IGZO the best Tablet for watching movies. iPad Mini 2 will probably not have IGZO because Apple will save it for iPad 5. Nook HD 2 (Nook 4 if we consider it’ll be the 4th Nook Tablet) might have it.

IGZO = Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide.

Huge Price Cuts with Kindle Fire 3 and Kindle Fire HD

Firstly, price cuts on the Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ will be necessitated by the iPad Mini Wars in mid 2013. $199 Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ is almost inevitable.

Secondly, Amazon doesn’t really have that many advantages. iPad has more apps, it has more ‘association’ with Tablets, it has better looks, it has better brand recognition. What Amazon does have is a large customer base and the ability to compete on price and on factors other companies have ignored or missed (like sound quality).

Kindle Fire 3 will have a very low price (for what you are getting).

Kindle Fire 3 will get two new family members – Kindle Phone and either a Kindle TV or a Kindle PC

Roger Knights pointed out a very important thing – Users who own a Phone/Tablet from a particular company/ecosystem are more likely to buy a Tablet/Phone from the same company/ecosystem.

We’ve also gone into reasons why it’s very likely that Amazon will release a Kindle Phone in 2013 in our post on Kindle Phone and Kindle TV.

Amazon will keep expanding the Kindle ecosystem and we’ll have partner devices that arrive alongside Kindle Fire 3. This will strengthen Kindle Fire 3 and also make it ‘stickier’. You get Kindle owners more and more immersed into the Kindle ecosystem if you ship more and more good, useful devices.

Bonus Prediction: A BIG change in the Tablet Market, which will affect Kindle Fire 3 drastically

There are two possibilities here:

  1. Windows 8 Tablets and Android Tablets become stronger and damage iPad. This fragments the market and means that most Amazon customers stick with Kindle Fire. This will be great news for Kindle Fire 3.
  2. Apple counters the New Tablets by aggressively pricing both iPad 5 and iPad Mini 2. This would strengthen the Apple iPad ecosystem and increase its lead. This would be very damaging for Kindle Fire 3.

It’s almost delicious, the predicament Apple is stuck in. It could fight for market share and lose profits in the near term. It could fight for profits and lose market share permanently. In either case, Apple’s decision will affect Kindle Fire 3 drastically.

If Apple chooses profits over market share, then, in the long term, Kindle Fire will benefit tremendously. It might even become a very strong #2 in the Tablet Market. If Apple chooses market share then Kindle Fire 3 might be the last Kindle Fire that sells well.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ Sale – $50 Off Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ Coupon

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ is on sale with a $50 off coupon for the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ – FIREHD89.

The key details -

  1. Only today, December 10th, 2012.
  2. You have to enter the Kindle Fire HD promotional code FIREHD89 at checkout. On the final checkout screen, on the right, there will be a place to enter it. This step is CRITICAL to get the discount.
  3. One discount per customer.
  4. US customers only.
  5. Valid on all versions of Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ sold by Amazon i.e. with or without special offers, 16 GB or 32 GB.
  6. Only available at Amazon.
  7. Important: Offer is not available with 1-click ordering.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ is a very good deal at its regular price of $299. With this Kindle Fire HD Coupon (FIREHD89) it’s an even better deal at $249.

Why is Amazon offering the $50 off coupon on Kindle Fire HD 8.9″?

It’s rather interesting that Amazon is offering this $50 off coupon when the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ is already at a very low $299. Combine this with the various offers being offered on Nook HD+ ($20 off when you use Mastercard etc.) and it seems iPad Mini is having more of an effect on the Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD than Amazon and B&N anticipated.

That means they are doubling down on what they perceive as their biggest advantage and their main competitive differentiator – price.

Quick Reminder of what you get with the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″

The main benefits of getting the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ are -

  1. 8.9″ HD screen with 1920 by 1200 screen resolution and 254 pixels per inch. This really is a beautiful screen.
  2. Doly audio and dual stereo speakers. Kindle Fire HD beats other Tablets on sound quality and volume.
  3. 1.5 Ghz dual-core processor.
  4. Front facing HD camera for Skype.
  5. Kindle Free Time parental controls and time restrictions.

Please Note: Kindle Fire HD is not the best choice if you’re looking for most apps (iPad Mini) or lightest and thinnest 9″ screen (Nook HD+).

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ was a good deal at $299. At $249 (with this $50 off Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ Coupon) it’s a great deal.

Kindle Fire HD Screen vs Nook HD Screen vs iPad Mini Screen vs Nexus 7 Screen

We don’t know the most effective method to do a Kindle Fire HD Screen vs Nook HD Screen vs iPad Mini Screen vs Nexus 7 Screen comparison. So, in the absence of one method to rule them all, the solution is to add in good comparisons done elsewhere (DisplayMate), my thoughts and experiences, and things like pixel densities and screen resolutions.

Disclaimer: I only own and use Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Nook HD, Nook HD+, Nexus 7. Have never had an iPad Mini. Past devices includes all Kindles and Nooks and iPad 2.

DisplayMate’s Screen comparison

Starting off with this because they go into the technicals. Don’t think technicals are the right way to compare – However, they are indisputable facts. So they are the most unbiased.

iPad Mini vs Kindle Fire HD vs Nexus 7 – Display Shootout from DisplayMate

First, some general things

  1. Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 are both 216 pixels per inch while iPad Mini is a low 163 pixels per inch. Note: Nook HD has 243 pixels per inch making it the winner here.
  2. The ‘Retina Display’ effect (screen appears perfectly sharp to the eyes) is up to 15.9 inches away for Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD but only up to 21″ inches away for iPad Mini. That means you would have to hold the iPad Mini at least 21 inches out for the screen to appear perfectly sharp. Note: Nook HD would be the winner here too since it has 243 pixels per inch and would appear ‘screen perfect’ at even closer than 15.9 inches.
  3. Small Text Readability for Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 was categorized as ‘Very Good’ by DisplayMate while it was ‘somewhat fuzzy’ for iPad Mini. For Nook HD it would probably be either Excellent or Very, Very Good. This is critical if you are going to be reading a lot on your device (it affects anything and everything you read – books, websites, magazines, newspapers).

Second, some overall assessments

  1. Viewing Photos and Videos was Very Good on Kindle Fire HD and iPad Mini and only good with Nexus 7. This would match my personal experience of Nexus 7 not being optimal for either photos or videos.
  2. Overall Display Assessment – Very Good for Kindle Fire HD (A- grade), Nexus 7 is a Very Good Display with Poor Calibration and Bugs (B- grade), iPad Mini is a Good Display with High Reflectance, smaller color gamut and very good calibration (B Grade). My grades would be – A for Kindle Fire HD, A+ for Nook HD, B- for Nexus 7.
  3. Reflectivity – Very Good for Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. Poor for iPad Mini. Have no idea how to figure this out for Nook HD.
  4. Brightness and Contrast – A- for Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7. B for iPad Mini. I’d put Nook HD at A or A-. Screen is very bright and has good contrast. Note: I have no way to measure Nook HD brightness and contrast so these are to be taken as observations/guesses and not facts.
  5. Color and Intensities – Please see the DisplayMate article. I couldn’t really grep/grasp most of this.
  6. Running Time on Battery – 6.6 hours for Kindle Fire HD, 9.1 hours for Nexus 7, 6.1 hours for iPad Mini. Don’t know how to measure this for Nook HD. It’s probably not 9.1 hours. Perhaps between 6 and 8 hours.

DisplayMate’s testing seems to clearly rank Kindle Fire HD as having the absolute best screen out of the three, with Nexus 7 second but not close, and iPad Mini a distant third. That’s my reading of their article. Of course, you might feel the difference isn’t so stark – although Kindle Fire HD does come out on top.

In actual usage I’d say that there’s no comparison between Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7. If screen is important to you then Nook HD or Kindle Fire HD are the only good 7″ Tablet Choices. I did have an iPad 2 and Kindle Fire HD is a better screen than that. However, iPad Mini is not the same as iPad 2 since it has smaller pixels.

DisplayMate seems to suggest that Kindle Fire HD > Nexus 7 > iPad Mini.

My personal experiences would suggest that Nook HD > Kindle Fire HD >>> Nexus 7.

Screen Resolution and Pixel Density

Every company looks for competitive differentiators. Apple found one in Pixel Density + Screen Resolution and it really went after it. Except in the iPad Mini it coudn’t deliver.

That’s the danger of taking something that is important (but not super important) and trying to make it the ONE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER.

It’s a testament to Apple users’ loyalty that after years of talking up Pixel Density and the necessity of having a 10″ screen on a Tablet, they have, without batting any eyelashes, discovered that 7″ is a much more comfortable size for Tablets and realized that screen pixel density isn’t very important at all for them.

It’s heartening to know that all of them are finally recognizing that form is not more important than function.

Unfortunately, screen resolution and pixel density affect both form and function. Here’s what we have for screen resolution and pixel density amongst the 7″ Tablets -

  1. Nook HD has 1440 by 900 screen resolution with 243 pixels per inch. So it leads comfortably. It has a 7″ screen.
  2. Kindle Fire HD has 1280 by 800 screen resolution with 216 pixels per inch. It’s very good and a clear second. It has a 7″ screen.
  3. Nexus 7 has 1280 by 800 screen resolution with 216 pixels per inch. However, it’s clearly inferior to Kindle Fire HD as Google/Asus messed up something with the calibration or screen anti-glare layer. It has a 7″ screen.
  4. iPad Mini has a 1024 by 768 pixels screen with 163 pixels per inch . It has a 7.85″ screen.

In actual use the differences I found were -

  1. Nook HD is better than Kindle Fire HD. However, it isn’t a game changing difference – one where the screen is so much better it makes other qualities unimportant.
  2. Nook HD and Kindle Fire HD are both much better than Nexus 7. To the point that you should NOT get a Nexus 7 if watching movies and viewing photos are Top 5 use cases for you.

Screen Resolution and Pixel Density determine how sharp text is and how good movies and photos look. You obviously want the best you can get and that would be Nook HD or Kindle Fire HD.

If you don’t read books and website articles, or if you don’t care about text sharpness and photo sharpness, then this post isn’t really that relevant. Most 7″ Tablets have perfectly serviceable screens.

General thoughts on Screens – Kindle Fire HD Screen vs Nook HD Screen vs iPad Mini Screen vs Nexus 7 Screen

  1. If you want the absolute best 7″ Tablet Screen, then Nook HD is the only choice. It has an impressive 1440 by 900 screen resolution and it has 243 pixels per inch. Markedly better than everything else in the 7″ Tablet Market.
  2. Difference between Nook HD and Kindle Fire HD is not very much. However, there is no doubt Nook HD is better.
  3. Nook HD > Kindle Fire HD >> Nexus 7. If screen is important to you (especially for viewing photos etc.) then I’d go as far as recommending not getting the Nexus 7. Even for movies Nexus 7 is not as good as the other two.
  4. Haven’t used the iPad Mini screen so can’t comment on that other than to say – If the device has a physically larger screen with lower screen resolution and lower pixel density, then it’s going to be a horror to use in two scenarios – 1) You are used to Retina Displays or Near-Retina Displays; 2) You stumble across someone using a Nook HD or Kindle Fire HD and realize you paid $130 more for a markedly inferior screen.
  5. Display Mate’s screen comparison confirms that iPad Mini screen is a bit of a disaster. So if screen quality is your #1 criteria then the Mini is definitely not the Tablet for you.

iPad Mini does have several advantages (let’s not reject it just because it has the least pretty screen) – a huge app store, larger screen area, lighter than most other 7″ Tablets, build quality, better resale value, etc.

Just because the iPad Mini has a screen that is unattractive, especially compared to the higher resolution, higher pixel density screens of its competitors, does not make it a bad Tablet. Its other qualities more than make up for the poor screen. However, if screen quality is a Top 3 criteria for you, then get a Nook HD or get a Kindle Fire HD or wait for iPad Mini with Retina Display in 2013.

Initial Reactions and Current Reactions – Kindle Fire HD Screen, Nook HD Screen, Nexus 7 Screen

Kindle Fire HD 7″

Initial – Wow! The only Tablets I had owned before this were iPad 2 and Kindle Fire 1 and Nook Color and Nook Tablet and Nexus 7. So this was my first near-Retina Display screen Tablet and it was very impressive.

Current – Wow! It’s just a very good screen, period. It holds its own (for the most part) against Nook HD and HD+ and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″.

Nook HD

Initial – Wow. It is better than Kindle Fire HD 7″. However, the difference is not a deal breaker. I wouldn’t recommend picking a Nook HD over Kindle Fire HD just for the screen (please consider all the pros and cons).

Current – Wow! This is probably my favorite Screen amongst all my Tablets. Even more than Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ and Nook HD+.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″

Initial – Seems similar to Kindle Fire HD 7″. Is this really 256 pixels per inch? On further review – Yes, it’s better. However, if it’s possible for a 256 pixels per inch screen to fail to look clearly better than a 216 pixels per inch screen, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ screen manages it. Perhaps it’s the bezels being so big they need to go on a diet. Perhaps it’s some sort of screen miscalibration. There just was no Wow! like there was with Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD.

Current – It’s OK. Apparently, the screen isn’t as good as it should be because they messed up some stuff (this comes from very skilled photographers and such). Hopefully they do some calbration fixes and make it live up t0 its 256 ppi and 1920 by 1200 screen resolution goodness.

Nook HD+

Initial – Very Good. This is very good. Note: Nook HD+ was seen after Kindle Fire HD so there wasn’t that initial Wow! factor. As opposed to Nook HD which really does Wow! even if you are used to high pixel density screens, the HD+ is just ‘Very Good’. Don’t know how to quantify it. It’s like a ‘very good near retina display’ screen. It’s 256 pixels per inch and 1920 by 1280 screen resolution. It’s very light and compact compared to Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ (However, HD 8.9″ has its own strengths).

Current – Very Good. Not sure why it’s never Wow’ed me. It’s a very solid ‘Very Good’ though.

Nexus 7

Initial – What? They did something wrong with the screen. It definitely is nowhere near as good for photos as Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD. It’s also worse than Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ and Nook HD+.

Current – Weakest screen out of all the 7″ Tablets. Note: Haven’t seen iPad Mini so can’t comment on that. Nexus 7 screen is very good for games but not that good rest of the time. The tinting or whatever they tried on the screen backfired.

Note: Not discussing things like laminated screens and no air gaps etc. because there’s no way to quantify that. The only place it seems to make a difference is on Nexus 7 where it detracts from screen quality. Everywhere else it’s not noticeable.

Kindle Fire HD Screen vs Nook HD Screen vs iPad Mini Screen vs Nexus 7 Screen – Conclusion

There are three tiers of Screen Quality in 7″ Tablets -

  1. Top Tier – Nook HD, Kindle Fire HD 7″.
  2. Second Tier – Nexus 7. However, I would NOT recommend it if screen quality is a Top 3 criteria for you.
  3. Third Tier – iPad Mini (Based on Display Mate Results, I have no experience with this).

If you are the sort of person who takes pleasure in watching beautiful photos or seeing a high-definition movie. If you love sharp, crisp text. If the quality and clarity and sharpness of screens matters to you – then Nook HD and Kindle Fire HD 7″ are your #1 and #2 choices. I would recommend either strongly – you’re going to be happy regardless of which of these two you choose.

Kindle Fire Cyber Monday Deal ($129 Kindle Fire)

The Kindle Fire Cyber Monday deal is a good one – $129 for the Kindle Fire if you enter promotional code FIREDEAL at checkout.

The details -

  1. This is the second generation Kindle Fire which is a slight improvement over the Kindle Fire 1. This is NOT the Kindle Fire HD.
  2. You can see the various details at the Kindle Fire Product Page at Amazon.
  3. You MUST enter the promotional code FIREDEAL to get the discount. You can enter this during checkout.
  4. It is valid only until 11:59 pm PST today ( Today = 26th November, 2012).
  5. Limit of one discount per customer.
  6. Offer is NOT valid with 1-click ordering.

If you were already thinking of getting the $159 Kindle Fire, then this is a no-brainer.

If you are unsure of which Tablet to get then there are other offers like $20 off the Nook Color and Nook Tablet if you use a Mastercard.

There might be other good tablet deals too. For Black Friday WalMart had Nook Tablet for $99.

Kindle Fire HD Observations

Firstly, this Kindle Fire HD post isn’t going to be in a vacuum. It is going to look at the 7″ Kindle Fire HD keeping in mind the other 7″ and 8″ Tablets available (only the main few).

Kindle Fire HD is one of a Multitude of Options

There are 4 major competitors that will challenge Kindle Fire HD -

  1. B&N went crazy. It released a 7″ Nook HD for $199 that comes with a 1440 by 900 screen. It trumps Kindle Fire HD in some areas (Screen Resolution, Lightness, SD Card Slot) and loses to Kindle Fire HD in others (Memory, Sound, Range of movies, no music store, probably battery life, perhaps WiFi). The important area in which Nook HD wins is screen – it beats Kindle Fire HD in resolution and pixels per inch. Kindle Fire HD’s big advantage is Amazon’s eco-system and probably sound and battery life and WiFi. Nook HD is ridiculously light too (just 315 grams).
  2. The Nexus 7 Tablet is a compelling choice. In my opinion the current Nexus 7 can’t compare with either Kindle Fire HD or Nook HD+ on a device basis. However, it has the Android Market and thus a lot more apps. It also has the latest Android OS and you can access books from Amazon or B&N on it.
  3. The iPad Mini. While iPad Mini is expensive at $325 and has a poor screen compared to Kindle Fire HD, it has several big advantages – the best apps and the biggest range of apps, very light, great build quality, greater screen area, international availability, retail stores owned by Apple.
  4. A veritable army of Windows 8 Tablets is on the way. These are going to be the first Tablets geared towards more than Entertainment. They come with keyboards and the Surface Pro versions will support Windows Software. So far the Surface RT is out and it’s not really a competitor to Kindle Fire HD.

The B&N development is a big surprise because I would not have expected B&N to beat the Kindle Fire HD’s excellent screen while also keeping the price at $199. Note: It does make trade-offs like less memory and lesser Speakers.

My strong advice would be – Please do NOT buy a Kindle Fire HD (or any other Tablet) until you have taken a good look at iPad Mini, Nook HD, Nook HD+ (just $269 for a 9″ Tablet with 1920 by 1280 resolution), and the Nexus 7. Not to mention an army of Windows 8 Tablets.

With that being said, here are my 17 Initial Kindle Fire HD observations.

Kindle Fire HD Observations

  1. The Kindle Fire HD screen is beautiful. It’s not the absolute best 7″ Tablet screen (which would be Nook HD), but it’s close.
  2. The body is too wide. Almost uncomfortable to hold because of how wide it is. Not sure why the bezel is so huge.
  3. The Camera is a useful addition. If you use Skype or just want to take a quick snap it’s helpful. Please Note: As of now you can only access Camera through a few apps like Skype and Facebook. There is, however, now a camera app that lets you use the camera as a camera.
  4. Photos look ridiculously good on it. The Photos app is very well done. If you love images and/or photography this is amazing.
  5. In terms of design it feels and looks more elegant than Kindle Fire 1 while still being solid. Kindle Fire 1 is more solid feeling but not very pretty design wise. The feel of the Kindle Fire HD is very smooth along the edges. A huge improvement from the extreme boxiness of the Kindle Fire 1.
  6. HD Video looks ridiculously good. It’s impressive to get this type of video quality in a $199 device.
  7. The Explicit Ads are a bit annoying but you only see them when turning on Kindle Fire HD. You can turn them off by paying Amazon $15.
  8. The ‘Other People Bought’ section (aka Implicit Ads Section) is really annoying.
  9. Good – Volume Buttons. Bad – Placement and style of buttons and power and USB slots. I have absolutely no idea what Amazon was thinking. Perhaps it wants us to only use Kindle Fire HD in Landscape Mode.
  10. Sound quality is tons better than iPad 2, Nexus 7, Nook Tablet, and every other mobile device I’ve ever owned. Listening to Music on it is very cool. Sound quality is also better than Nook HD and Nook HD+ and Surface RT.
  11. In terms of Screen and Sound Kindle Fire HD is stunning. Please Note: Nook HD has a 243 pixels per inch screen. So Kindle Fire HD does not have the ‘absolute best’ screen on a 7″ Tablet. However, the screen really is Gorgeous.
  12. Found the Shop Amazon App very interesting. It is perhaps the single most important App in the entire Kindle Fire App Store from Amazon’s perspective. Of course, you could argue the entire Kindle Fire HD is an Amazon Store.
  13. The three really interesting things were – Felt a compulsion to buy and watch some HD movies JUST FOR THE SCREEN. Just to see how they look on the screen. Hard to stop looking at photos. The Music Quality is really good and makes you want to keep listening. This really is a consumption pleasure maximizing device.
  14. Did not have lagginess that some users have complained about. Andrys at Kindle World says that it’s fixed for most people (who run into it) with a restart of the Kindle Fire HD.
  15. Silk was not very fast. Which was surprising given my 60 Mbps connection. As compared to my desktop (which is not very fast, it’s from January 2009) the Kindle Fire HD was 3 to 4 times slower. I suspect it’s all Silk’s mistake. Nook Tablet’s Browser was twice as fast for the few sites I checked.
  16. The text everywhere is really, really sharp. It’s good on websites and it’s really good in books. Haven’t read a full book yet so not sure about the reading experience. If Reading is your main use case of a Tablet then Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD are very, very good choices.
  17. UI is easy to use. It does have a few of the things Apple is going after Samsung for. So presumably Apple will come after Amazon too if Kindle Fire HD takes off.

Initial Grades for Kindle Fire HD

Overall, my opinion of the Kindle Fire HD is high. My rough initial grades would be -

  1. Screen – A-.
  2. Sound – A.
  3. User Interface – B.
  4. Ads – F.
  5. Apps – C. Not much range. Note: 70% of the Important, Big Apps are there. However, at least 40% of the Apps that are most important for you will probably be missing or in poor quality.
  6. Books – A. Very Good range. The best prices.
  7. Reading – B. Among tablets it is probably among the best. However, it’s not as good as an eInk Kindle for reading.
  8. Movies – B. Range of movies available is not very good.
  9. Sturdiness – A-.
  10. Ease of Use – B. It’s easier to use and understand than Nexus 7. Not as easy to use as iPad.
  11. Expandability of Memory – F. This is a big drawback if you need to store a lot of photos or movies.

Which would translate into an overall B.

For $199, you get a very good Tablet with an excellent screen, some big strengths, and some big weaknesses.

Is the Kindle Fire HD right for you?

That’s a very tough question.

Kindle Fire HD (the 7″ version) shines when doing the following -

  1. Watching Movies.
  2. Reading.
  3. Listening to Music.
  4. Playing Games that are available. Only around 60% of the best games are available yet.
  5. Using Apps that are available. Only around 75% of the best apps are available.

Kindle Fire HD stumbles if you are interested in the following -

  1. The smoothest and simplest user interface. That would be iPad. Furthermore, the iPad interface isn’t cluttered with ‘Buy This – Other People Bought It’ Ads masquerading as Recommendations.
  2. Openness. Android is the only option there.
  3. The widest range and best quality of apps and games. Kindle App Store is a long way from competing with iPad Store.
  4. The prettiest or lighted or most elegant small Tablet.
  5. An SD Card Slot. Only Samsung and Nook Tablets have these.

I’ve probably missed a few strengths and a few weaknesses. Hopefully, you still can draw a picture of what the Kindle Fire HD does well and what it doesn’t do well.

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