Amazon's tablet is a great buy for Kindle fans, has some handy features for business users, and is certainly well-priced. But it's let down by sluggish performance and an unintuitive interface.
Cheap, good screen, great if you're already part of the Amazon eco-system
Sluggish performance for some tasks, unintuitive interface, battery drains quickly, adverts are annoying
£ 159 for 16GB; £199 for 32GB
Model: Amazon Kindle Fire HD
Display: 7in 1280x800 resolution at 216ppi, IPS, advanced polarising filter, Gorilla Glass
Processor: Texas Instruments OMAP 1.2 Ghz dual-core
Storage: 16GB or 32GB
Operating system: Android Ice Cream Sandwich (heavily modified)
Connectivity: Dual-band, dual-antenna 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
Ports: micro USB (USB 2.0), micro HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack
Camera: Front-facing camera for video calling
Battery: Over 11 hours; 13.5 hours to charge over USB
Dimensions: 193x137x10.3 mm
The release of the Kindle Fire HD finally brings Amazon’s tablet range to the UK, almost a year since its release in the US. The 7in model is a key challenger to the Google Nexus tablet and the soon to be released Apple iPad Mini.
Design and build
Amazon has certainly gone its own way with the build and design of the Kindle Fire HD. The tablet measures 193x137x10.3 mm, making it significantly wider than the Google Nexus 7, but needlessly so as this extra width is taken up by a wide bezel around the 7in screen, rather than extra screen space.
The Fire HD weighs 395g, much more weighty than the forthcoming iPad Mini at 308g and the Nexus 7 at 340g. But we didn’t find the Kindle version uncomfortable to use, especially if you’re used to the full-size iPad at 652g.
Amazon is pretty coy about the materials used for the Kindle Fire HD, but it seems to be toughened plastic surrounding the Gorilla glass screen, so again this should stand up pretty well to any bumps and scrapes. The tablet certainly has a solid feel, and the glass is able to withstand a few knocks and scratches. However, we did notice it picking up fingerprints more than other touch screen devices we’re used to.
On the outside, the Fire HD has a headphone jack, volume up/down and power on/off buttons on the top, and micro HDMI and micro USB ports along the right-hand side.
The Fire HD feautures a 7in HD LCD display with 1280x800 resolution at 216ppi. The screen is crafted from a single piece of glass to reduce screen glare, according to Amazon, rather than a separate layer for touch and LCD. We found we needed to press the touch screen twice most times to get it to perform the desired action, as it requires a hard push down.
The use of In-Plane Switching (IPS) and an advanced polarising filter have also been added, designed to improve colours while viewing the screen from any angle.
We found that watching video, viewing photos and browsing the web is a pleasant experience, but not the best we’ve experienced on a tablet. Text has some fuzziness around it when browsing web sites, and images get fairly pixelated when zooming in. Despite this, image and video playback is generally sharp and clear, with good colour detail.
Next: Performance, operating system