Amazon Kindle Fire tablet
A tablet that fails to impress, as either a tablet or as an e-reader
- Easy shopping for Amazon books, music, videos
- Smooth integration of cloud and local storage
- Sluggish performance
- Interface still has some bugs
- Not as flexible and versatile as other tablets
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.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
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.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen) review: Raising the bar
- 2 Xiaomi Mi4 review: Xiaomi's best yet
- 3 Samsung Galaxy Note Edge review: Lightly flawed, Undeniably special
- 4 Sony Xperia Z3 review: The no-frills flagship
- 5 Samsung's Galaxy Alpha review: A peek into the Galaxy S6
Best Deals on GoodGearGuide
Latest News Articles
- Google Now adds data from Lyft, Airbnb and many more apps
- Outlook app for Android and iOS boosts Microsoft's mobile comeback
- MIT randomizes tasks to speed massive multicore processors
- NEC aims at Big Data 'sweet spot' with new SAP Hana tool
- Uber will fight to keep its Boston ride data private
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.