Kindle Fire Review

kindle-fire-review

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Amazon Kindle family welcomed its newest addition, Kindle Fire in September 2011.  Since then, Kindle Fire has become the bestseller on Amazon.

Summary

Kindle Fire is a great multi-media content delivery device with impressive functionality at a very affordable price.

Table of Contents (click a title to jump ahead)

Summary | Is For | Not For | What to Look | Main Purpose | Display | Design | Interface | Content | Amazon Prime | Storage | Connectivity | Web | Email | Price | Included | Warranty | Customer Rating | Complaints | Where to Buy | More Reviews

Who Is Kindle Fire For?

If you are a bargain hunter, you really can’t go wrong with Kindle Fire at an unbeatable price.  If you are into reading books, watching movies/TV shows, listening to your favorite music, and keeping in touch with your friends and family, Kindle Fire would be a great option for you.

Who Is Kindle Fire Not For?

If you own a lot of multimedia content outside of Amazon, if you want to store massive media content into your portable device, or expect Kindle Fire to be or a better version of iPad, you will be disappointed.

The bottom line is really depending on your needs, expectations and how much you would be willing to pay for a device like Kindle Fire.

Since I bought my iPad2 in 2011, I’ve lost track of how many ereaders and tablets have entered into the niche market.  With Amazon alone, there have been four generations of Kindle products with varying features, functionality and price points.  It’s even more confusing for an average consumer when Amazon changed the names of some of the models, modified the prices and added/or deleted features. So how do you make heads and tails out of all this?

What to Look for in an eReader?

For me personally, it’s always helpful to evaluate a product like Kindle Fire based on the following criteria:

  • Main use of the device
  • Budget
  • Display/Screen Size
  • Design/Weight/Dimensions
  • User Interface
  • Content
  • Memory/Storage/Battery
  • Connectivity
  • Web Browsing
  • Email

What Do You Use Kindle Fire For?

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This is an important question you should ask yourself before researching for a content device.  Are you looking for a content delivery device or an e-reader?

Kindle Fire is designed to be a multi-media consumption device with a few other bells and whistles such as web-browsing and email.  It delivers rich content such as books, magazines and newspapers, movies, TV shows, games, and music.

Although Kindle Fire can also be used as an ereader, it is not the best choice.  The reason is that Kindle Fire has a LCD screen instead of an E-Ink display.  If you read for a very long time, it will cause eye strain.  Moreover, it’s not made for reading outdoor in the natural sunlight. For ereading purpose, I would recommend Kindle Touch as a viable option.

Display/Screen Size

Instead of E-Ink Pearl as it is in all the predecessors, Kindle Fire uses IPS (in-plane switching) technology. IPS panel technology was first developed by Hitachi in 1996.  It was to address two limitations, i.e., small viewing angles and low quality color reproduction.  With IPS, it allows extra wide viewing, consistent and accurate color from all angles.  This gives customers the visual pleasure when reading a book or watching a movie.  It is also wide enough for sharing a screen with someone.

Gone are those days where only gray scales were displayed.  In Kindle Fire, 16 million colors are rendered in high definition.  Books, magazines, motion pictures come alive on the screen with brilliant colors.

Kindle Fire display screen is made of very durable material called Gorilla Glass. It is 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic to prevent damages from accidental drops and scrapes. No need to panic if you happen to drop your Kindle Fire next time.

The screen size is 7”, just about right for most folks unless you prefer a larger screen such as in Kindle DX or iPad.

On the flip side, IPS is not as good as E-Ink Pearl for extensive reading as I mentioned earlier.  Also if you’d like to read a magazine or a newspaper, you will have to pinch the screen to enlarge the text for legibility.

Design/Weight/Dimensions

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The design of Amazon Kindle Fire is really simple and minimalistic.  It doesn’t have too many buttons to push. In fact, some customers complaint about not being able to adjust the sound volume, etc.  The device weighs 14.6 ounces, heavier than most of the previous Kindles.  However, it is light enough to hold with one hand .  The dimensions are 7.5” x 4.7” x 0.45.  So overall it’s light and compact enough to take it anywhere.

User Interface

Kindle Fire has a multi-touch screen.  You can access your content by using the menu bar or remove anything from the Carousel by touching it for a few seconds.  Then select “Remove from Carousel”.  The scrolling works well and responsively on the touch screen.

Content

Among all the ereader and tablet brands, Amazon stands head and shoulders above all in content offering.  At the time of Kindle Fire release, Amazon boasted of 19 million book titles, movies, TV shows, songs and applications.  If you are an avid reader like me, you would know how seamless it is to purchase and download the content from Amazon.  It takes from a few seconds to a minute to download a book.  The process is so simple that even a child can do it.  Not to mention that you will save a bundle from buying ebooks instead of hard copies.

Amazon Prime

Amazon provides a new subscription service called Amazon Prime.  With this program, Kindle owners can take advantage of the benefits such as:

  • Borrow a book per month from 50,000 book titles for free with no due dates
  • Unlimited instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime instant videos
  • FREE two-day shipping on millions of items, no minimum order size
  • One month free trial
  • Just $79/year after your free trial

Memory, Storage and Battery

Kindle Fire has 8GB memory.  In fact, after excluding the memory taken by the Operating System, the actual memory for content storage is only about 6GB.  If you are thinking about storing 10 movies, 20 TV shows, 5,000 book titles and 10,000 songs at the same time, you will not be pleased with Kindle Fire.  The Fire doesn’t come with a SD card slot for adding more memory.

Amazon does offer a great alternative via Amazon Cloud.  You have unlimited storage as long as it is Amazon content.

The battery life in Kindle Fire is 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playing after turning off wireless.  This is a significant reduction from all its predecessors, most of which have anywhere from 3 weeks to 2 months in battery life.  To charge Kindle Fire, it takes about 4 hours via a U.S. power adapter or from your computer via a USB.

Connectivity

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Kindle Fire supports private and public Wi-Fi networks or hotspots.  It doesn’t come with 3G capability.

Web Browsing

This is really a significant feature not available previously.  Amazon Silk is a browser that utilizes the computing speed and power of Amazon Web Services Cloud.  It has several advantages such as shorter transit time, persistent connections and so on.  All these will translate into speed and time saved when you browse on the web.

There are some die-hard people complaining about how slow the browser is.  As a matter of fact, the speed is quite decent if you have a good Wi-Fi connection at home or at work.  Plus, the device is not designed for the sole purpose of surfing.  You might be better off surfing on a bigger screen anyway.

Email

Once again, this is another brand-new feature in this newest Kindle.  It enables you to keep in touch with friends and family on the go from your emails in Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL.  You may also import your messages and contact list.

How Much Does It Cost?

What’s Included?

The package includes Kindle Fire device, U.S. power adapter and Quick Start Guide.

Does It Include a Warranty?

A 1-year limited warranty and service is included.  There is an option to purchase a 2-year Extended Warranty available for U.S. customers.  The price at the time of this review is $40.00.  Note: The Extended Warranty is really only for one additional year to the first year base warranty coverage.

What People Are Saying

Average Customer Rating: 4 stars out of 5 reviewed by over 12,000 customers on Amazon as of January 19, 2012.

Any Complaints?

  • Hard to read magazines online due to the screen size
  • No cameras
  • No SD slot for expanded memory

Where Can You Buy Kindle Fire?

You can buy Kindle Fire via Amazon.  Amazon has one of the best online shopping experiences in the world. Click here to learn more about Kindle Fire on Amazon.

Want to Read More Reviews for Kindle Fire?

If you are interested in reading more customer reviews, click here.

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