Kindle Fire HD teardown shows it's easy to fix, except for display

IFixit finds processor is rated faster than even Amazon says

The new 7-in. Kindle Fire HD tablet by Amazon, starting at $199, scored a 7 out of 10 rating from iFixit for its repairability by do-it-yourselfers.

The main reason iFixit didn't give the Kindle Fire HD a higher rating -- a 10 indicates repairs are easy -- is that the LCD display from LG Electronics is actually fused to the front glass and plastic frame of the Kindle Fire HD. That means all those components would need to replaced as one unit instead of separately.

But iFixit also said the rear case is very easy to open, and found a battery that is not held down by adhesive. "You don't need to sacrifice thinness to make a repairable device," iFixit said, noting that the Galaxy Nexus 7 is easy to repair compared to the iPad , while the Kindle Fire HD (10.3 mm thick) is actually slightly thinner than the Nexus 7.

The iFixit teardown of the Kindle Fire HD focused mainly on repairs, rather than the hardware details many reviewers consider important. But the process did show that the 4400 mAh battery is enclosed with a metal casing -- a first. "We believe this is for structural reinforcement, as well as for shielding the battery from any possible electrical damage," iFixit said.

Amazon has claimed 11 hours of operation on a single charge -- two hours longer than the Google Nexus 7.

The teardown also discovered a Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 dual-core processor, an upgrade from the standard Fire's 4430 processor. Amazon put the new processor's clock speed at 1.2GHz, although iFixit found that TI rates the 4460 at up to 1.5GHz.

Other components iFixit detailed inside the device: 16GB Flash memory from Samsung and 1GB of DDR2 RAM from Elpida. The Kindle Fire HD also has a standalone, replaceable headphone jack, which won more praise from iFixit.

The display of the Kindle Fire HD is 1280 x 800 pixels, and iFixit took exception with Amazon for not publishing the resolution of the single front-facing camera. The resolution might only be 1 megapixel, "nothing worth writing home about," iFixit said, assuming the camera captures images equivalent to the display's resolution.

Like many other reviewers, iFixit wondered why a second rear-facing camera was left off the Kindle Fire HD. "We're a little puzzled as to why this is such a deal-breaker," iFixit said.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

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