The new Kindle Fire HD 7” tablet from Amazon, just released in September of 2012, is a strong contender in the highly competitive 7-inch tablet market that is already crowded with offerings from Apple and Google.
Featuring a new, more ergonomic form factor, an updated (and tack sharp) screen, and features like a front-facing camera and an updated Silk web browser, the Fire HD 7” is a true competitor with the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini – especially for people who love media.
On first inspection, the Kindle Fire HD 7” has a markedly improved design. The wider chassis and longer screen feels better in the hand than the original Kindle, and the rubberized edges give a solid grip. As many purchasers of the newest round of tablets have learned, the smaller 7” size – similar to a paperback book – is much nicer than the full size Kindle or iPad for casual use.
Weighing in at less than a pound and less than 1/2 inch thick, handling the Kindle Fire HD 7” tablet is a dream. The screen gives an resolution of 1280×800, which allows native HD video playback, and displays deep blacks and rich, vibrant colors. The anti-glare screen is now more effective for outdoor reading, although the flat eInk screens used on the basic Kindles are still better in this regard.
The standard touch screen is augmented by three buttons along the bottom edge of the screen. The “home” and “back” buttons are self explanatory, and pressing the 3rd button slides up a menu containing the user’s favorite apps – easily customizable from the settings menu.
The basic specs of the tablet have been updated significantly from the original iteration of the Fire 7”, with a new 1.2GHz OMAP 4 processor and 1GB of RAM. Also standard issue is Bluetooth compatibility, a light sensor, an accelerometer and gyroscope (which allows for some very fun and immersive gaming), and a pair of dual-band wi-fi antennas, which seem to be able to pull down a signal almost anywhere. A pair of Dolby-enhanced speakers provide excellent sound – considering the size of the package. The processor provides more than enough oomph for viewing full HD videos, playing graphics intensive games, browsing the web, or simply cruising the amazing array of content that is available on your Fire HD.
The tablet runs a highly customized version of the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, which has been modified with a custom Amazon user interface. Among the pre-installed software is the video-calling software Skype, and the high-definition forward facing video camera makes chatting with relatives or joining business meetings very straightforward.
Content is really the story of the Kindle Fire HD 7” – the tablet provides access to Amazon’s massive inventory of movies, music, audiobooks, magazines, books, and games – more than 22 million items in total. The overall Amazon ecosystem feels polished and well thought out. Little touches throughout the interface make the user experience richer and quite unique – for example, when you flick through your library of content, Amazon provides personalized recommendations of similar content that you might enjoy.
The amount of content available on the Kindle Fire HD 7” even outdoes even the high end (and high price) iPads. For $79 per year, users can sign up for an Amazon Prime membership and enjoy unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows, as well as enjoying access to a free lending library of Kindle books that operates much like a traditional brick-and-mortar library. Anyone who purchases a Kindle from Amazon (or gets one as a gift) receives one free month of Amazon Prime membership.
With that much content, it is helpful that Amazon provides free unlimited cloud storage of all your content, which can be streamed to any device with an internet connection. The new WhisperSync functionality also comes in handy here, allowing users to begin a movie or audiobook on one your Kindle Fire HD and switch to your laptop, smartphone, Xbox, or TV seamlessly, starting up right where you left off. This is where the Amazon experience really shines.
Other features are too numerous to list comprehensively, but include an option called FreeTime, which allows parents to create a kid-friendly user profile that restricts content and total screen time, a smooth cloud-accelerated web browser (Amazon Silk )that includes a “reading mode” option to remove clutter from webpages, and integration with popular services like Facebook, Twitter, webmail, and Outlook Exchange servers.
With 11 hours of battery life and a vast array of content available, the Kindle Fire HD 7” is an excellent choice for travelers and on-the-go people who enjoy movies, music, books, and games. At $199 for the basic 16GB model and $249 for the 32GB model, the tablet is the best value for a multimedia tablet on the market today. If you are on the lookout for gifts for men (or anyone else who enjoys media) in your life, look no further.