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 -
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- The body is too wide. Almost uncomfortable to hold because of how wide it is. Not sure why the bezel is so huge.
- 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.
- Photos look ridiculously good on it. The Photos app is very well done. If you love images and/or photography this is amazing.
- 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.
- HD Video looks ridiculously good. It’s impressive to get this type of video quality in a $199 device.
- 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.
- The ‘Other People Bought’ section (aka Implicit Ads Section) is really annoying.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 -
- Screen – A-.
- Sound – A.
- User Interface – B.
- Ads – F.
- 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.
- Books – A. Very Good range. The best prices.
- Reading – B. Among tablets it is probably among the best. However, it’s not as good as an eInk Kindle for reading.
- Movies – B. Range of movies available is not very good.
- Sturdiness – A-.
- Ease of Use – B. It’s easier to use and understand than Nexus 7. Not as easy to use as iPad.
- 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 -
- Watching Movies.
- Listening to Music.
- Playing Games that are available. Only around 60% of the best games are available yet.
- 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 -
- 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.
- Openness. Android is the only option there.
- The widest range and best quality of apps and games. Kindle App Store is a long way from competing with iPad Store.
- The prettiest or lighted or most elegant small Tablet.
- 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.