This is the next-generation Kindle Fire HD but with an updated operating system and new features, a redesigned shell (with the power and volume control buttons more readily accessible) and the power adapter included rather than as a separate $19.99 accessory. And all of this at a great price. When you consider the formerly separate cost of the adapter, you'd have spent $80 more just a couple of months ago for almost the same tablet.
NOTE: This is the base model of the three models that Amazon is shipping this year: the Kindle Fire HD, the Kindle Fire HDX, and the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9". Despite what I wrote above, this model is not really the successor for the Kindle Fire HD; it's the successor for the Kindle Fire. The successor for last year's Kindle Fire HD is this year's Kindle Fire HDX. I think a lot of reviewers are missing that point because of Amazon's unfortunate naming conventions.
The Amazon tablets are primarily content consumption devices, best suited for connecting to the Amazon ecosystem, including videos, music, books, apps, and so on. With the free Prime trial subscription, you can check out the Prime Instant Video options and watch movies and shows at no charge until the Free Trial expires automatically. For videos, music, and books, the Amazon selection is at or near the top of the list; for apps, much less so. Roughly 90% of the top 100 apps are available on Amazon.com, as well as 100,000 others, but that's only a small fraction of what is available with Google or Apple.
It's not quite as bad as it sounds because, while the competition has ten times as many apps, most of those apps are, um ... how shall I put this ... less than stellar (look up Sturgeon's Law). If there are specific apps you need or want, you definitely should double-check before purchasing to make sure that they are available. The apps that will likely never become available on the Kindle Fire ecosystem are those apps that require Google services (i.e., anything that uses Google location services). One ameloriating factor is that it is possible to side-load most of the apps from the Google Play store onto an Amazon tablet and a web search on side-loading apps onto Kindle Fire will show dozens of websites with detailed instructions. If the app you are sideloading requires a Google service to work, though, it will not run on the Fire, even if you manage to successfully install it.
It has an updated OS and updated feature software (but does not include the free unlimited Mayday customer support feature; you'll have to move up to the HDX to get that). The software updates include the ability to download some Prime Instant Videos to your device and watch them offline, enhanced accessibility, enhanced enterprise controls and features (so now it's better suited for office work), enhanced email client, enhanced parental controls, improved X-Ray features (now including lyrics for music, as well as additional information for both books and movies), integration with GoodReads (coming soon), and the like.
Where I noticed the biggest difference was the home screen. The default view is still the carousel but if you swipe upward, you'll see a more traditional icon view. The "Recommended for you" display on the home screen is now smaller and much less obtrusive (and it can be turned off in the settings). Amazon has also added multi-tasking of a sort, where swiping up from the bottom of the screen while you're in an app shows you the 20 most-recently-used items from your home screen, so you can quickly switch from one app to another without returning to the home screen.
There is also a left panel available on most screens (but not the home screen) and in some of the apps, with navigation links and settings to make it easier to navigate and control your tablet or to navigate within the app. If you tap the center of your display and then swipe left while you're reading a book, for example, you'll see a panel that shows you the table of contents, the About the Author link, the Sync to Furthest Page Read link, and so on.
The Kindle FreeTime option and the parental controls are still among the best in the business. If you want a tablet for a child and want to control what they can access, how long they can use the tablet at any given time, and the like, Amazon has you covered.
You can now also schedule "Quiet Time" on the tablet, where notification sounds and pop-up notifications are disabled, either on a temporary basis by simply pushing a button or on a scheduled basis. Frankly, I doubt I'll ever use this feature but if you're the type who likes to read or watch video until you fall asleep, it's kind of nice to be able to disable all sounds so that you don't get rudely awakened when, e.g., someone plays a new word in your Words with Friends game.
As I noted, the Kindle Fire HD does not support the new "Mayday" feature that Amazon has been advertising. However, if you swipe down from the top of the screen, tap the Settings option on the top right, and then select Help, you'll see various options, including Wifi information and troubleshooting tips, a comprehensive User Guide, information on providing feedback on select features, and information on contacting Customer Service via email or phone.
So what are the drawbacks? No camera or microphone, so no video conferencing, no Skype, no picture-taking. A little underpowered with a slightly reduced battery life and slightly higher weight when compared to the newest tablets (e.g., the Kindle Fire HDX has a quad-core processor, 11 hour battery life, and a 10.7 oz. weight compared to the Kindle Fire HD dual-core processor, 10 hour battery life, and 12.2 oz weight). On the other hand, you're paying $90 less for the Kindle Fire HD so you're getting a pretty good value.
Also, like the other Kindle Fire tablets, as well as the Apple iPad and the Google Nexus, the Kindle tablet line doesn't have a micro-SD slot, so the assumption is that you're consuming content from the cloud. This is fine when you're using your tablet with wifi; not so good when you're traveling and want to load up your tablet with content for the trip. If the latter is something you expect to do regularly, you might want to consider the 16GB version. Also, if all of your content is on iTunes or on Google Play, you would have to side-load everything onto the tablet. As is true of Apple and Google tablets, there's no way to automatically connect to the cloud storage of the competition.
Update: I was asked in the comments about downloading Prime Instant Videos. I verified that I can download Prime Instant Videos to my Kindle Fire HD. However, that option is not available for all movies and TV shows. It looks like they had to get the permission of the studios and not all of them said yes. So, for example, I was able to download "Casablanca" but not able to download "The Avengers" even though both are part of the Prime Instant Video collection and both are available for free streaming.
Update: There seems to be some questions (and some misinformation) about the Amazon Prime 30-day free trial that comes with these tablets. That 30-day free trial expires automatically unless you specifically renew; they will not charge your credit card. That differs from the experience when you explicitly sign up for the Prime 30-day free trial on the Amazon.com website. In the latter case, unless you cancel, your 30-day free trial membership will automatically convert to the annual membership.
Update: There also seem to be some questions about the "special offers" version of this tablet. The special offers consist of an image with a link on the startup screen for the tablet. Once you're past that screen, there is absolutely no difference between the "with special offers" and "without special offers" tablet. Typical offers include advertising a new game, special deals on specific Kindle books, special deals on tablet accessories, or even the occasional deal on the tablets or e-readers themselves (a particularly noteworthy deal was the offer of $100 off the latest e-reader). If you find the advertisements irritating, you can always go to the Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/myk) and pay $15 to turn them off forever.
Update: How does this Kindle Fire HD differ from the previous generation Kindle Fire HD? (Although the real comparison should be with the previous generation base Kindle Fire, for more on that, see below.)
- It's a bit lighter (12.2 oz vs. 13.9 oz)
- It's a bit smaller (7.5" x 5.0" x 0.42" vs. 7.6" x 5.4" x 0.4")
- It's a bit faster (1.5GHz dual-core CPU compared to 1.2GHz)
- A redesigned shell with power and volume control buttons that are easy to find!
- The base version of the new Kindle Fire HD has 8 GB instead of 16 GB.
- No camera
- No HDMI out (but see the description above for details on how Amazon is providing a software solution for sharing your tablet screen on your television)
- No ambient light sensor, so the brightness is always set manually
- It contains a power adapter, something that was sold separately with last year's model
- It has an updated OS and updated feature software.
- It's $60 cheaper ($80 cheaper if you count the power adapter). Since last year's Kindle Fire HD had 16GB rather than 8GB, perhaps the comparison ought to be that it's $30 cheaper ($50 if you count the power adapter).
As I wrote above, this isn't the successor for the 2012 Kindle Fire HD; it's the successor for the base Kindle Fire. There were three tablets last year: Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, and Kindle Fire HD 8.9". There are three tablets this year: Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HDX, and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9". If you bought the Kindle Fire HD last year, the equivalent model this year is the Kindle Fire HDX. So how does this year's base model compare with last year's base model?
- It's got a much better display (1280x800 vs. 1024x600), plus better technology driving the display (10-point multi-touch vs. 2-point multi-touch). The display is also brighter and cleaner. There really is no comparison.
- It's got better sound (including Dolby audio).
- It's much faster (1.5GHz OMAP 4470 vs. 1.2GHz OMAP4430).
- It's lighter (12.2 oz vs. 14.1 oz).
- It has better battery life (10 hours vs. 9 hours).
- It's $20 cheaper ($40 cheaper if you count the power adapter).
Last year's base model had no microphone or camera; neither does this year's. Last year's base model had no HDMI output; neither does this year's. Last year's base model had 8GB storage; so does this year's. Last year's base model had no ambient light sensor; neither does this year's. And so on... When you look at it that way, this is a heck of a deal.
How does the Kindle Fire HD compare to the competition? In this class, the major competition would be the 2012 Apple iPad Mini, which Apple is still selling, and the 2012 Google Nexus 7, which Google no longer sells but which is still available on Amazon.
HD: 1280x800 - 7" display (216 ppi)
Nexus: 1280x800 - 7" display (216 ppi)
iPad Mini: 1024x768 - 7.9" display (163 ppi)
These are all decent, previous-generation displays, with the iPad Mini both a winner (it has a larger screen) and a loser (it has lower resolution). It's worth noting that the aspect ratio of the HD and Nexus is 16:10 while the aspect ratio of the iPad Mini is 4:3. Where this matters is watching video. If you're watching an old television show, a 4:3 aspect ratio is fine. If you're watching a high-def movie, the 4:3 aspect ratio is going to leave large black bars on your screen and the video will be much more compressed than it would be on the HD and Nexus. Apple chose to maintain backward compatibility with prior devices rather than moving up.
Sound: The HD has Dolby Audio; the other two have standard stereo sound. The iPad Mini also makes the same mistake that Amazon made in its first-generation tablet: putting both speakers on the same side (in this case, at the bottom of the tablet). If you're watching a video, you'll have the tablet turned sideways and the sound will all come from the same side. The HD has the speakers placed in a more appropriate location.
Networking: All have dual-band wifi.
Size and Weight:
HD: 7.5" x 5.0" x 0.42" and 12.2 oz.
Nexus: 7.81" x 4.72" x 0.41" and 12 oz.
iPad Mini: 7.87" x 5.3" x 0.28" and 11 oz.
There's really nothing to choose from here. All three are small, thin, and light. The iPad Mini is the largest but it also has the largest screen, and it is the lightest and thinnest.
HD: Dual-core 1.5GHz OMAP 4470, 1GB memory
Nexus: Dual-core 1.20 GHz Tegra 3.0, 1GB memory
iPad Mini: Dual-core A5, 0.5GB memory
The HD wins this round, although none of these is a real barn-burner, which is not a surprise at this price point. Both the HD and the Nexus have more RAM than does the Mini.
Cameras: Both the Nexus and the iPad Mini have 1.2 MP front and 5MP rear cameras. The HD has no camera. If you need a front-facing camera, you'll need to move up to the HDX. If you need a rear-facing camera, you'll need to move up to the 8.9" HDX.
Battery Life: HD = 10 hours; Nexus = 9.5 hours; iPad Mini = 10 hours.
Expansion: None of them have a microSD slot; they all assume that you'll be using their respective cloud systems.
Price: The HD is $139, the Nexus is approximately $165, and the iPad Mini is $299. The iPad Mini is priced very high for what it offers; Apple dropped the price only $30 (down from $329) when it debuted its 2013 iPad Mini with Retina display. The HD is really a great price but you don't get a camera with this model.
From my own perspective, there is no single clear winner, as each tablet has strengths and weaknesses. If you already have Amazon Prime, the HD is a no-brainer, with the access to the Prime Instant Video and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. If you want apps, Apple and Google both have far more choices. If you want to watch movies, I'd pick either the HD or the Nexus, as Apple's aspect ratio and its lagging sound put it at the back of the pack. If price is a factor, then I'd pick the the HD, unless you really need a camera, in which case, I'd recommend the Nexus.
If you're heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, i.e., you already own an iPhone or iPad and all of your content is on iTunes, the HD really isn't the tablet for you. Similarly, if you love browsing Google Play for apps to play on your Samsung Galaxy phone, you're likely to be disappointed in the section available on Amazon (although, as I note above, most of the Google Play apps can be sideloaded onto the tablet). If you love your Google Now or Siri, neither of which will ever be available on Amazon, this isn't the tablet for you.
Update: It was pointed out to me in the comments that I missed a couple of alternatives that are worth considering. One alternative is the 2012 Kindle Fire HD 8.9" tablet, which is still available here on Amazon.com. (The 7" Kindle Fire HD is no longer available on Amazon but you might be able to find it at a local Best Buy or office superstore as those stores run through their inventory.) If you want a larger, true HD tablet for $229, the 2012 HD 8.9" tablet is pretty compelling. The only drawback is that it's a two-hander; this isn't a tablet you're going to be comfortable holding in one hand for very long. But sometimes the extra screen real estate is worth it.
A second alternative is the 2012 Barnes & Noble 7" Nook. This was a very good tablet in 2012 and it still holds up in 2013 as a bargain tablet. The specs make it competitive with the Kindle Fire HD and B&N is currently selling it for $129. It's an even more compelling deal because of two factors: the first is that it has a micro-SD slot, so you can expand its available capacity, and it provides access to the Google Play store, so you have the full range of Android apps. The one drawback is that there is reason to question whether B&N is going to remain in business, as it's been steadily losing money and market share over the past few years, with no signs yet of that stopping. Also, like the Kindle Fire HD, the Nook doesn't have a camera.
The bottom line: The Kindle Fire HD tablet is primarily intended as a viewport into Amazon content and Amazon services. If you have Amazon Prime and you have Amazon eBooks in your collection, this tablet is a no-brainer. The price is low, particularly for what you get, and it's a small, light, budget (without being cheap) tablet with a good display and good sound. This really is an excellent value.
Now that I have a Kindle Fire HDX tablet (see http://www.amazon.com/review/R2KVHBC7NMNOGU for my review), I'm in a little better position to talk about which one I'd recommend:
You should get the Kindle Fire HDX if:
- You're a techie who wants the latest and greatest, the best display, the fastest processor.
- You need a camera for Skype or other video app.
- You play graphics-intensive games (e.g., racing games).
- The size and weight matter to you, even in such small increments as this.
- You think you will need the Mayday technical support.
You should get the Kindle Fire HD if:
- Price is a factor. $90 cheaper is not an insignificant amount. This really is an excellent value for the money.
- You want an inexpensive tablet for a child (and, for this case, the lack of a camera might well be a plus)
- All you want is a basic tablet for reading books, playing music, watching the occasional video, playing Words with Friends, and the like. While the screen on the HD isn't as stunning as is it on the HDX, this is still a true HD screen and it is very good.
Note: I check back here pretty regularly. If you have questions, I'll be happy to try to answer them.
on October 4, 2013
First off, I would like to say this tablet is a great deal for just $139.99. I tried finding a tablet for under $100 that would just work properly, and to let you know, it's impossible. Secondly, I want to tell you how I decided to buy this tablet.
I first bought the 9 inch Dragon touch tablet for 78$ but to be blunt it sucked. It was so slow that the web browser would always freeze, even if I did a simple Google search. I did not want to take a chance with it anymore and returned it after 2 days of using it; then I decided to give the kindle fire HD a chance.
Exterior: The exterior is well built. No loose pieces, and the plastic is very firm. My previous cheap tablet had plastic that felt it was going to snap if you held it too hard. Of course the iPad mini has a glass screen and aluminum body, but it also starts at $329. There are 2 ports: a micro usb and a headphone jack to plug in your headphones. The nice thing is that the micro usb is universal and finding a plug is cheap and easy to find. Although, amazon does include a very nice and not cheaply made cable/ wall charger along with your kindle. The previous kindle did not include them and they are worth $20. The buttons for the volume and power are a nice touch. I would not be surprised if new generation tablets will include these style buttons.
Only down side is there is no port for an SD card so you can store more memory. It would be a nice feature but if you really need all that storage, go buy a computer.
Display: One word, amazing. Maybe I am pushing it, but the screen is so clear. I own an iPhone 5 and my eyes prefer my kindle. I love reading on this machine and for the price, amazon did a good job with this one.
Internal/processor: I never owned the older versions of the kindle, so I won't be able to compare to them. I can say that this kindle is not slow. My previous tablet took a couple of seconds to respond to my touch but there is no delay on this kindle. As far as apps go, I downloaded that deer hunting game to test out if the kindle can handle it. The answer is yes, and didn't even struggle :).
WiFi: Surfing the web is awesome on this device. I watched a tv series(arrested development, which I do recommend) and the video playback was great. It was very smooth and even when I went outside the video was fine. I added the outside part because my 2010 MacBook pro starts to get a jittery WiFi connection when I bring it outside my house. But the overall speed is in between my iPhone 5 and MacBook pro, where it should be.
Battery: Yeah... I noticed the older version of the kindle was 11 hours and this one is 10 hours. But if you're on the kindle for 10 hours straight, time to GET A JOB! (Read update 10/23/13 lower in the review for true battery life)
Camera: I wish there was a camera and Mic in this kindle so I could Skype with my family. Keeping the price and size in mind you can't really blame amazon. Well, at least the NSA can't see me or hear what I'm doing. If you want those features then you can always buy the better version of the kindle. (Kindle HDX)
Sound: I don't know what the previous kindle sounded like, but this kindle has great speakers. I was in my room watching my show and my roommates(my parents..) told me to turn it down. I could understand everything that was said in the show and that's all that matters. If you bought this tablet to listen to quality music, I don't know what to tell you.
Setup: I've seen lots of people saying that the setup is a pain in the you know what. I was waiting to see what they were talking about but I had no issue. When I received my tablet, I turned on the screen and connected to my WiFi. I had no problems and then an amazon load screen came up and I said, here we goooo... The load screen only lasted 2 minutes and it was completed. I didn't have another one, nor did I have an issue setting up my kindle. My email, WiFi, amazon account, and other set ups went very smoothly without any issues.
I am not doubting that other people had problems with their tablets, no electronic device is perfect. Either amazon saw that there was a problem and fixed it, I got lucky with my tablet, or maybe so many people were trying to register their new kindle and amazon servers could not handle it. Wouldn't have been the first time a new product had its servers go down(obamacare, ios 7, COD servers, etc.)
Bluetooth: Haven't tried it yet, sorry! But apparently no one has any issues with it. 10/21/13 I have tested it out by hooking it up to my car and it works. I don't own a Bluetooth mouse or keyboard but you should not have a problem pairing them with the kindle.
SO, if you want a general summary, this is a fantastic tablet for the price. This tablet is probably the cheapest tablet that you can buy with it being dependable. There are a lot of cheaper tablets out there, but are only good if you want bald spots. Keep the price in mind when buying this tablet, this is why amazon offers a lot better kindles that cost more. This kindle is for someone that is on a budget, wants a device to surf the web,reading books, looking at photos, watching movies, playing games, and obviously "facebooking." If you want something more "show off-ie" then this isn't the kindle tablet for you.
Also, keep in mind Amazon is an extraordinary company. They are fair priced for almost everything they sell on their website, especially their books. I cannot thank them enough for saving me hundreds of dollars on books I need for college. For not being an electronics company like Apple, Samsung Sony etc, they can definitely give those companies a run for their money with their tablets. So thank you amazon for making a very affordable, dependable tablet!
I will update this if I see something out of the ordinary or if something goes wrong that shouldn't have.
P.S. If there spelling mistakes, sorry. I used my new kindle to type this all out. I figured it would be good practice.
First, I want to mention is that I am having sound glitches. When I'm watching a video the sound just shuts off and I have to press the rewind button 1 to 3 times. In doing so, the video loads itself again and the sound magically comes back on. I know it's a software issue because sometimes when I load my apps there is no sound even when it is turned on. I shut off the app (sometimes a couple of times) and the sound comes back. If anyone knows how to fix the issue or has the same problem, let me know. Thank you.
Another problem I have is trying to connect the micro usb cable in. I think it's a problem because the way the sides of the kindle are angled. Usually I plug in all my electronics at night, with no lights on. But with the kindle, I have to leave the light on so I can find the port to plug in the charger.
There is no flash player in the kindle, but that's no surprise since android and iPads don't either. There might be manual ways on installing it but I wouldn't know.
When you use you're kindle while charging it, it gets pretty warm. Not really a problem just something that was noticeable.
Now, time for some good news! The display is great outside, I can watch all my shows when the sun is out. This is a huge plus for me.
The true battery life. I tested it out by watching 4 episodes of a show that lasted about 22 minutes. Each show drained my battery 5%, keep in mind my display brightness was set around 75%. Doing the math, the battery life will last you roughly 7.5 hours when watching videos. When I web surf, read books, play a game here and there I would have enough battery life to last me a little less than 2 days. I think the battery life would be a lot better if there was a light sensor on the kindle, but there isn't. So if you want to save battery you need to manually change the brightness yourself because the kindle is not able to.
Two suggestions so far.
1. Amazon, I wish your kindle cases were cheaper. Two of your cases cost as much as the kindle itself! They do look nice and pretty cool but not for that price. Sorry, but I went with the 20$ marware case and it does the job.
2. Instead of offering $2 amazon music credit incentives when you buy certain products. A $2 amazon coins incentive would be incredible. Almost everything in the app store costs money and amazon coins would be very useful for a lot of your loyal customers.
My previous issue that I had with my kindle (sound disappearing) has been resolved. I am not sure what it was but I think it had something to do with the recent update.
Some people are angry and giving horrible reviews because this isn't like the previous generation Kindle Fire HD. READ THE PRODUCT DESCRIPTION BEFORE YOU BUY ANYTHING. This kindle fire HD is marketed as the improved, previous Kindle Fire, while the kindle fire HDX is the new and improved, previous kindle fire HD. I do not want to bash anybody, but I do not think that this Kindle should have such bad reviews because of others' stupid mistakes. So, if you are not on a budget and want an even greater tablet; the Kindle Fire HDX is what you should look into.
The other cool thing about the recent update is, if you bought a kindle with special offers, the lock screen now has a notification bar. Before it just showed the special offers on the screen. Now on the lock screen, at the top of the screen, it shows the time, battery life and other notification like new emails. Before you had to unlock the screen to see any of this. Nice touch Amazon!
Also, HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!
on October 4, 2013
This new KFHD replaces last year's basic Kindle Fire. Although it has some cool new features, it lacks a camera, microphone, and HDMI port. For this reason, I'm glad I kept my 2012 model since it does have these 3 features!
Here are my initial impressions of the 2013 Kindle Fire HD: I like the placement of the on/off & volume buttons. Being on opposite sides makes it unlikely to hit the wrong one. I never cared for the carousel (this is what you see when you turn your Kindle on and it contains all the books & apps you have recently accessed), and now there's an option to have favorites showing on the home screen instead, and the apps/books can be rearranged to your liking. I was very surprised that web pages can no longer be placed in the favorites bar (which is now being called "home"). I don't know why Amazon removed this option, and we also are unable to have the last accessed web page appear in the carousel. But you can still bookmark your favorite web pages & YouTube videos for easy access.
When I play songs purchased from Amazon's MP 3 store the lyrics scroll down karaoke style. Nice feature, but it doesn't work on every song. This device has a cool new feature called "Quick Switch", which allows us, when reading or using an app, to bring up recently accessed items with a swipe instead of having to exit the book or app you were using and go back to the "home" screen to open up another one.
In terms of sound, I find it to be tinny and not as rich as it is on the original KFHD. But you can really improve the sound of music by wearing a good set of ear buds. Ironically, music sounds muffled unless you hold the device in landscape mode with your hands covering the speakers. Holding it this way projects the sound out to you.
In terms of speed, this new model loads web pages and email faster, which isn't surprising considering that it has a 1.5GHz processor compared to 1.2GHz on the older model.
I like the placement of the USB charging port. It's now on the upper left hand side (when in landscape mode). On the older model it's on the bottom, which makes it awkward to stand it up while charging.
**AMAZON PRIME VIDEO DOWNLOADS HAS ARRIVED!! If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, in addition to being able to stream videos on your Kindle you can now download many of them. I love being able to watch shows offline when I'm away from a WiFi connection! It took about 5 minutes for a 45 minute television show to download. We can choose the picture quality we prefer (either "good", "better", or "best"), and the higher the quality, the longer it takes to download & the more storage space it uses. A 45 minute show at the "best" resolution used up a whopping 2GB of storage space! No worries though because it's a cinch to delete the videos after watching them. Most of the Prime tv episodes can be downloaded, such as Chopped, Nova, Twilight Zone, and the The Universe, but only a fraction of the movies have this capability so far.
Amazon promises a software update in mid-November that will allow us to sort our books and apps into "collections"! This will be a wonderful feature to have because now we have to scroll through all of our content to find the book or app we want to access.
My device received the software update, and now I can organize all of my books and apps into collections!! And we can put the folders on the home screen, not just in our content libraries!! This is a great new feature that I've wanted for quite a while and it adds to my enjoyment of using the device.
Many people are complaining about the lack of a user guide, so I wanted to mention that it can be accessed from the device itself. (You need an active WIFI connection to complete this task)!! Just swipe down from the top of the screen where the time is displayed & tap on "help".
Here's a link for Amazon.com help:
Then tap on "Get help with your Kindle device or Reading App", and then tap on "Kindle Fire HD 2nd Generation". This should help get everyone started!
Yes..this is my 6th Kindle Fire HD 7 and I am sharing my story so you are not discouraged! My previous Kindle Fire performed well and I decided to upgrade to the newer model with 16GB. My 2nd Kindle Fire arrived as a Christmas gift and the first week I used it, the unit crashed. Ouch! My previous generation-now referred to as "Old Faithful" -never failed me. I followed the onscreen instructions for Kindle#2 and rebooted my device. After using my device for about 30 minutes, it crashed again and the on-screen instructions said to reboot the reset the entire device. I reset the device and lost all my settings, then again after using the device it crashed. I was not a happy customer so I called Kindle Support.
If you are not bored yet...keep reading....
Kindle support told me NOT to reset the device, because this erases the memory on their support side and they are unable to resolve the issue from their end if I reset the device. They advised me to call them when this happens. After a conversation about my new device not working, they agreed to send me another Kindle.
Kindle #3, #4 and #5 all arrived...and I returned all of them when I discovered they were refurbished units. Since my device was brand new and I had only used it one week, I expected a brand new device as a replacement. On Kindle #6 I ended up placing a new order (rather than an exchange order) and then returned the refurbished units they continued to send me. Problem resolved.
It gets worse...
Kindle #6 crashed too! Within the first week...again!
This time I did not "reset the device" and instead I would reboot the device. I did this each time I turned on the Kindle. 100% of the time, when I turned on the power button, I would get the error message and my device would shut off and require a reboot. It would work after each reboot.
This is fascinating though... on the day when I brought my Kindle #6 outside my home and not longer had wifi, I made a great observation (I hope Kindle support reads this!). When I turned on the power button, the Kindle started automatically loading a software update! Wow... that was interesting and it actually took a few minutes to update. I'm not a genius..however I think the software update was causing the failure each time I powered my device. It was conflicting with the same wifi that would load new books to the device....and this caused it to crash. It's just a theory...however when you're on Kindle #6 then you seek any possibility for your frustration.
Summary...I love my Kindle and would never want to be without one, I only hate it when it does not work right out of the box. I had to walk through some challenges to get the device working and it was worth the frustration. Now, if someone could please tell me how to turn off the Wiki notes that keep appearing whenever I highlight...you'll be my very best friend! I did pay the upgrade to remove the ads and I still have those Wiki popups. Ugh!
Please, if you have time .....comment on my review below so I know what information you find useful or what you would like to see added to my review. Or just click the "like" or "dislike" button to save time. Your input is valuable feedback for me!
UPDATE: 23 days after returning my Christmas Kindle gift, I received a refund on my first Kindle and also was charged this: Restocking Fee Refund Deduction: ($25.94) although I was not informed of any restocking fee during my four phone conversations with Amazon. Amazon needs to be more specific on their "one year warranty" and their "restocking fees."
Thumbs down for the SIXTEEN PERCENT RESTOCKING FEE FOR A BRAND NEW KINDLE DEVICE!
To sum up what I will tell you about in the details below, for just $139 you are getting one heck of a deal on a tablet computer - especially if you compare it to the $199 for last year's first-generation Fire HD this one is replacing and the $500 or more you can spend on a Wi-Fi version of the iPad. Overall, if you consider the price and the functionality I think this is a great tool / toy if you are a first-time tablet buyer, price vs. value is a key consideration, or if you are looking for an affordable tablet for the kids. If you're comparing last year's HD model to this version and last year's model is operating fine, I'd say save your money and continue to get your money's worth out of that one.
My review below compares a lot of the features of this version of the Fire HD to the original Fire HD, but also some of the features for a first-time user.
I will say setup was a literal pain in the neck, and I said a lot of bad words: despite being a brand new product, the Fire attempted to download and install several operating software updates. Software updates on a Kindle are usually in the background, but I quit counting after 13 crashes and manual reboots. It crashed during setup, playing a song, watching a TV show, reading a book, and playing Words with Friends: in other words, it took 3+ hours to get this thing up and running but after the final software update it has worked as expected without further issues.
Screen Display / Video Playback:
The best improvement in this version of the Fire is the screen display. Looking at the technical specs Amazon did not make major changes in the display / resolution, but the picture appears more crisp: I compared the viewing experience watching with my standard test - don't laugh - the first episode of the Wonder Woman TV series from the 70's. The display on this HD Fire was one heck of a lot better in terms of sharpness than last year's model. For you technical folks out there, the display is 1280x800, and maybe the better display is due to either the type of glass on the screen or just the benefit of having a brand new device.
The initial Wi-Fi setup took some time as it had a hard time identifying the radio signal of all of the available wireless routers, primarily identifying all but mine. I had four versions of the Kindle Fire open during my test, and all but this one identified my router so I had to hop onto a guest network. After the final operating software update I mentioned above, however, it was fairly easy to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi.
My standard test for trying out new gadgets is to see how fast they run side-by-side with a known piece of equipment doing the same test at the best place of Wi-Fi in my house and the worst place where it drags. In this comparison, I had this HD version of the Fire sitting next to the previous version of the HD Fire, as well as an 8.9" HD Fire, Motorola RAZR smartphone, my iPad 2 (yes, the Kindle guy uses an iPad for work), and the first-generation 7" Fire (the model from two years ago) all just using a Wi-Fi connection vs. cellular connectivity.
My "normal" website test is to hit the mobile websites of FoxNews, CNN, my personalized Yahoo page, Google, and the Houston Chronicle. The ones that were usually slow on the other devices and were still slow but faster than the other devices (Houston Chronicle and CNN), and for the other sites I couldn't tell a difference in speed at the location closest to my router. When I went to the slowest / worst reception location of my house, the speed did have a noticeable difference in the other devices as this one was a little bit faster than all but last year's model of the 7" Kindle Fire HD, which I would attribute to the dual antennas. On the signal strength bar, I always got one additional bar - meaning more strength - than all of the other devices non-HD devices.
Sound / Music Playback:
The two speakers are located in the back of the Kindle Fire in two not-noticeable ports: one on the top and one on the bottom. My test of this feature was cranking up Van Halen's Panama to maximum volume (I wanted to see if it could really play the guitar licks), and I would alternate covering one speaker up over the other: you have true stereo sound with no degradation of the sound that makes you think you are about to blow the speaker. The Dolby speakers sound nice and you do get to hear the bass. However, I am still of the opinion the speakers aren't going to do very well being placed in the back as I am in the front: I want to be able to hear whatever I am listening to without really having to crank it up and disturbing someone else in the room (that's what happens when you start losing your hearing like I am). While the cover for this version has not shipped yet - I imagine the sound quality might decrease with a cover in the back over the speakers. The X-ray feature is pretty neat as it displays the lyrics on the screen if you are so inclined; if you are not, it is as simple as the tap of an icon to make the lyric feature go away.
Email setup was very easy for my main Gmail account, both with the software came with the Fire but my primary use of an an existing app called Enhanced Email that I purchased here in the Amazon app store. I did setup the email app that came with the program with no problem - it took about a minute to setup my main Google account - and I was able to send and receive emails with no problem as well as synching my online calendar via Google's calendar and contacts. For those of you asking yourself why am I using the Enhanced Email program, the simple answer is like many of you I have more than one email account: you can quickly switch back and forth on the accounts with the tool. The lazy person in me appreciates that as I don't like getting out of the lazy chair once I'm settled in!
New Tabs and Screen Layout:
In addition to the normal tabs Amazon has continued to make tweaks with the look and feel to the overall display such as more things to scroll through to find what you are looking for in an easier manner. Interestingly, I purchased the one with special offers and the only ad I have seen so far is on the main screen saver vs. being overwhelmed with ads like last year's model.
Turning pages is pretty darn easy - just tap the side of the screen to go to the next page or back a page, or you can swipe your finger across the screen to do the same. I really wish they would add the feature to see the book's description for books on your device like they have with the e-Ink Kindle, as I can't remember what each book in my digital to-be-read pile is about. For those of you who have wondered, you still can't organize your books into categories unless you purchase a third-party app here in the Amazon app store.
There is a Bluetooth connection, and I tested this by taking it out to my car and having the Fire stream music through my car stereo. There were no delays or skips with the connection, and it paired up in about a minute. Just make sure you give it a device name so you can recognize it and be recognized.
I purchased the 16GB of memory vs. the standard 8GB. With storage on the cloud, it could be hard for me to fill it up - my kids could fill up 8GB easily, however, so the extra 8GB of storage is nice to me.
There is no camera on this model - I guess that is how they kept the price lower.
Unlike previous models of the Fire, this one DOES include a charger! If you're scratching your head with that comment, in previous models you had to purchase a charger separately for $20 which always seemed kind of silly for Amazon to do.
What I Wish it Had: a case that was ready to go and shipped when the Fire was ready (why are we waiting). A case is very important in order to protect your investment. Also, I'm interested to see how they try to not hurt the speaker's performance I mentioned above due to the speakers being in the back of the unit and hopefully not covered up with a case.
Overall, at $139 for the 8GB of memory model ($169 for 16 GB of memory) I think this is a pretty good deal. Kids will love it as they can read books, play games, watch TV and movies, and a whole lot of other things. Adults should like it for the exact same reasons, but while I try to minimize the amount of work-related stuff I do at home with the business apps that are available here in the Amazon App store and other places around the Internet I can also work on Excel and Word-compatible files when I have to without having to fire up my work laptop or whatever the case may be. If you've never owned a tablet before, or are looking to upgrade from an earlier model Fire, I would recommend this one. If you're comparing last year's HD model to this version and it is operating fine, I'd say save your money and continue to get your money's worth out of that one.
on November 15, 2013
I really, really, really wanted to like this tablet. I have a paperwhite that I love and my husband and 3 of my kids have kindle 4. I have always liked kindle and Amazon support is unsurpassed by any company I have ever dealt with. That said, this kindle fire HD sucked, The picture was awesome. The screen very responsive. But after using this for only a few hours it went black and I had to reboot it, Then it froze. Reboot again. Netflix would not run properly. Uninstalled and reinstalled it. Same thing. Called Amazon and they talked me through a complete reset. Same result. Called Amazon again and they immediately sent a new one. Great! Not great. :( This new kindle did the same thing. Netflix would freeze. Amazon Prime video would not work either. Called Amazon and told them I was sending it back for a refund. They are great and they immediately sent a return label for the tablet, and the case for it that I cannot use. Amazon, your customer service ROCKS! Unfortunately for the tablet, not so much. I really had high hopes for this product. Maybe amazon can work out the bugs eventually. In the meantime, I am getting a tablet that will work properly. I hope :)
on December 7, 2013
Before purchasing the Kindle Fire, as I do with most purchases, I did a lot of research. This always includes reading other people's reviews, especially on Amazon where there are so many helpful ones. I was somewhat disappointed/surprised to see that so many people clearly didn't understand what they were buying! Almost all of the negative reviews for this tablet came from an obvious lack of understanding of the product, that could have been cleared up with a few minutes of research. To that end, I wanted to clear a few things up:
-While I do concede that the naming of the Kindle Fires has been a little confusing, it's easy to grasp with a few minutes of reading the descriptions. This Kindle Fire HD is the replacement of the previous Kindle Fire. Yet, not all the features are the same, and the features (or lack thereof) are clearly detailed. One shouldn't buy it blindly expecting the same product as last year, especially given the significant price drop.
-No, there isn't a camera. It's clearly states that there isn't one, and this is factor in it's low price. Therefore, the reviews that complain about not having Skype did not understand what tablet they were purchasing.
-Yes, there are special offers. You don't HAVE to buy it with special offers, but honestly I think it's worth it. It's less expensive, and the ads are ONLY on the lock screen. Some of them are for cool products, some aren't. Even the ones that aren't, you look at it for 2 seconds before unlocking your device. Plus, for 15$ you can remove them forever! Writing a review complaining about the offers on the screen just means that that person didn't glance at the description. The choice between special offers and not is right next to the product description.
-This is a specialized Android tablet. It's meant to be used within the Amazon 'ecosystem', such as the Amazon app store, music store, Prime videos, Kindle books, etc. Therefore, in my opinion, you have to be a heavy user, and ideally a Prime user. If you're not, this might not be the tablet for you.
-Finally, this is a tablet. Not an e-reader. There are a couple reviews that complain about it not having the same 8 week battery life as the Kindle e-reader. Of course it doesn't. It's a standard LED screen tablet, and you should expect the traditional battery life that comes with that -- 8-10 hours of continual use.
Now, on to the things I love! I'm a huge Amazon user, I already own a Kindle, but other than that I am strictly iOS. I wanted a basic tablet to complement my retina iPad, which is great but I find too heavy for a lot of things. I thought getting the entry-level Kindle Fire would give me an inexpensive way to preview a different OS and see how the Amazon system works, since I am a Prime member and have all the advantages that come with that. I didn't need a camera or extra storage, because I already have an iPad and iPhone with those features. This was really to read, try out Prime streaming, check email, Spotify, and play some games. I waited for Cyber Monday hoping for a deal, and nabbed the 16g at 50$ off plus a 30$ gift card I already had, coming out to a measly 89$. For a steal like that, it could work half as well as it does and I would be happy. For that price, (even the regular price), it works fantastic.
The touch screen and keyboard work perfectly for me, very responsive. The (stereo!) speakers, like other reviewers said, are really great for such a little device. It feels well made, is very comfortable in the hand, and is the perfect size for reading and throwing in a purse. The setup process is a breeze. The settings and controls themselves are very easy and intuitive. The resolution is great, very clear. Not retina, but more than adequate. The wifi works great, I have signal in my house about just as far as my iPad does. I thought I would hate the carousel, but I actually like it! I do enjoy having the list view as well. I've also been very happy with the web browsing, finding it to be responsive and quick. While it isn't as lightning fast as my iPad, for a fraction of the price I am very impressed. I definitely find that reading on the Fire is better, the dimensions and weight are perfect.
I do have a couple cons, as with any device. Because I knew precisely what I was getting and what I needed, I have no problem with there being no camera or mini-HDMI port (with options like the Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku, who needs wires?).
-The battery life is comparable to my iPad. However, being less powerful than my iPad, I expected a bit more longevity. I don't quite get the 10 hours, more like 8.
-The charger port set into the bezel is at an angle. It's straight, but because of the tapered design the micro USB doesn't fit in perfectly like I've come to expect from a lightning or dock cable from Apple. It just feels unsteady, and I have to pull harder than I should to unplug it. Plus, it's not in the middle of the device, so using the tablet while it's charging isn't ideal.
-Unless I haven't found it yet, there's no 'silent' setting. You have to manually turn the volume down if you don't want to hear a game's music or an email arriving, and then turn it back up again to listen to music or watch videos. I've taken this for granted on the iPad.
-There are too many apps that don't support landscape mode. This seems silly for a 7 inch tablet that will most often be used in landscape.
-I already have a tiny tiny scratch on my screen. It's almost invisible except when light is shining on it, but I've only had it a few days and that gives me the impression that the glass isn't quite as reinforced as the iPad's. The rest of it does feel very sturdy though.
-Finally, while I really don't mind that the special offers prevent me from changing the lock screen wallpaper (when I get sick of them I'm happy to fork over 15 bucks), it seems strange to not be able to change the wallpaper of the home screen. The black wallpaper has a weird gradient thing, so it appears that your outermost apps have a shadow to them.
To cap off this extraordinarily long review, it's a great tablet, and even more impressive for the price. The pros far outweigh the cons in my opinion. I just strongly urge people to do some more research into what they purchase, that way they won't be unhappy later. If you understand what you are getting and are OK with some of the 'missing' features, I highly recommend the Fire. It's the best budget tablet out there, easy to use, and has the weight of Amazon's services behind it. Can't go wrong there!
on November 14, 2013
If you are trying to decide which model to buy, I can only assist if you are like me. I previously owned the original Kindle Fire. I was very happy with it. But the ability to download a selection of prime videos in addition to the ability to "Fling" (Have not tried that feature yet)was a great incentive to upgrade. However, which device to get? HD or HDX. I've held both in my hands at a big box retailer. The HDX is indeed smaller, lighter, and the screen is crisper. The HD on the other hand is 60 bucks cheaper when comparing the 16gb models.
I am a light user. I only use my Fire for Books, Prime Videos, and a few light games. With that said, if you are upgrading from the original kindle fire, or are looking for a child's first tablet, or if it's your very first tablet. You will not be disappointed. Compared to the orginal KF, everything is improved. Smaller, lighter, and the screen is awesome!
*But isn't the HDX faster? Yes, but is it 60$ fast, no. It can't help you read a book faster, or watch a movie faster.
*But isn't the HDX Screen better? Yes, icons looks better if you have 20/20 vision, is that worth $60 to you? The KFHD can do video up to 720P, even for prime download, anything larger than that would simply kill your hard drive storage. Even if I owned the HDX, I would keep all videos to 720p for the sake of storage and streaming speed.
*But doesn't the HDX have a Camera? Yes, only a front facing one though. I personally use iPhone/iPad for face chat
*But isn't the HDX Smaller, and lighter? Yes, but the HD is still lighter than the original KF. And even then, we are talking ounces, and MM's.
*Have you downloaded Amazon Prime Videos? Yes I have. The content is indeed limited. But if you look you will eventually find something and actually lots of good stuff. I was able to continue watching Downton Abbey & Under the Dome by downloading them. This feature made my weekend travel great! especially because Delta no longer requires you to turn off most electronic devices. But AirTran does :(. Either way, the ability to watch videos without wifi is great!
*How long does the download take? Can't really remember as I walked away. I downloaded about 6hrs of HD content (3 different shows) in less 30 min. YMWV.
If you have money to burn. Go with the HDX. If you were happy with the original Kindle Fire, you will be more than happy with the new KFHD. Saving $60 is great, it leaves money in your pocket to by a case, along with some more holiday shopping! I purchased a Poetic Slimline Case for under 10bucks and it's AMAZING! I will do a review soon.
Poetic Slimline Kindle Manufacturer Warranty
on December 22, 2013
I purchased this kindle for my husband for Christmas because he enjoys reading books on my Nook tablet. It arrived on Dec. 5th and I kept it hidden and unopened until Dec. 17th. I wanted to have it charged and ready to use for Christmas morning so I took it out and turned it on. Immediately it began to flicker, it worked for about 1 minute then went blank with lines running through it. I turned it off and on a couple of times but the lines remained.
A quick call to Amazon and they transferred me to Kindle. They said they would ship out another one immediately and email a return label. When I checked my credit card they charged me again for the replacement kindle and $13 for shipping! Another call to Kindle and they stated that I may have dropped the 1st unit and damaged it so they may not refund my money.... I informed them that I had not dropped it, I had just taken it out of the box for the 1st time! I am very disappointed in the treatment I have received. After losing control of my temper and my blood pressure flying off the charts I finally got them to remove the fee for the replacement unit. The new one arrived promptly and I tested it for a few minutes before wrapping it. I guess we'll see if it holds up when I give it to him on Christmas day. I will never order from Kindle again. I have never had an issue with my Nook and would totally recommend it over the Kindle fire.
on January 6, 2014
Pros: I like the clear magazine viewing. It quickly links to and uploads Amazon video, and I don't mind the lit screen for reading.
Cons: Defective design flaw means that it quits charging after a year or less, making it obsolete within a year.
This is my 2nd Fire (my sixth Kindle). Both of them have what seems to be the common problem of a loose charging port. Part of that may be due to the awkward placement of the charging port, but if you search the web, you'll find this is quite common, and it's a problem Kindle knows about. When the port started to go a few months ago, I bought a new Kindle paperwhite, and I've been using that for reading. But I miss being able to watch video and read magazines, so I called Amazon to see what they would do to fix a known problem. You can get a fix for $30 from Ebay, so I wondered, since Amazon knows about the problem, if they'd be willing to back up what they sell. They weren't. So, I'll buy an IPad instead.