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Excellent Value for the Price and Improvements Over First Generation Fire,
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This review is from: Kindle Fire - Includes Special Offers (Previous Generation - 2nd) (Electronics)
To sum up what I will tell you about in the details below, for just $159 you are getting one heck of a deal on a tablet computer - especially if you compare it to the $199 for the first-generation Fire 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 an outstanding tool / toy. My review below compares a lot of the features of this version of the Fire to the original Fire, but also some of the features for a first-time user.
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 version of the Fire sitting next to the previous version of the Fire, my Motorola RAZR smartphone, my iPad 2 (yes, the Kindle guy uses an iPad for work), and the new 7" Fire HD (the Fire HD is in a separate yet similar review) all just using a Wi-Fi connection vs. cellular connectivity..
My 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 slow on the Kindle Fire (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 not have a noticeable difference in the other devices, except it did lose connection on CNN. Basic web searches on Google were all at the same speed.
Screen Display / Video Playback:
Amazon has made a few tweaks in the display / resolution, and I compared the viewing experience watching - don't laugh - the first episode of the Wonder Woman TV series from the 70's. The display on this Fire was one heck of a lot better in terms of sharpnessthan last year's model. For you technical folks out there, the display is the same 1024x600 on last year's model yet looked crisper - the only thing I can attribute that to is last year's model I have has been used quite a bit and maybe there is some decrease in the view over time or it could be because I have a 3M screen protector on the old and haven't put one on yet with the new. I don't know, it's just better looking.
Sound / Music Playback:
Similar to last year's model, the two speakers are located at the top of the Kindle Fire in two not-noticeable ports. 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 headphone jack is located at the bottom of the unit just to the left of the power switch and the micro-USB port. I don't like the placement here, as I tend to read books in the portrait mode (up / down similar to holding a book) vs. landscape mode, and the bottom of my headphone cord tends to "poke" you in the leg while reading and listening to a song at the same time.
Email setup was very easy, but I will tell you I am using an existing app called Enhanced Email that I received here on the Amazon app store for free vs. what came as standard with the Fire. 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. 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 Newsstand, Books, Music, Video, Docs, Apps, and Web tabs Amazon has added a new look and feel to the overall display such as rather than 5 rows of 5 apps per row on the apps tab it is now 4 rows of apps with 4 apps per row which means bigger icons and fonts (yes), but more things to scroll through to find what you are looking for. To offset that pain, I think that's why the added the new tabs called Shop, Games, Audiobooks, and Offers. While many of these are self-explanatory, there are a LOT of ads in each of the tabs - after all, Amazon wants you to buy a lot of stuff to help offset whatever the true cost of this unit is.
While the apps tab has all of your apps in the cloud or on the device, the games tab basically slices and dices the apps you have to be game specific - that's pretty handy and helps out quite a bit, especially if you have a lot of apps and want to sit down and play a game (although you still have to scroll away to find, say, a business app in the app tab).
What I think is a really nice new feature is the Audiobooks tab. Amazon of course gives you many opportunities in this tab to make purchases from their Audible subsidiary, but you also have a "Library" area where you can see your audiobooks that are stored either on the Cloud or on your Kindle Fire in the Device tab.
When the Fire first came out, I preferred reading on my e-Ink Kindle and not at all on the Fire. That's because I think reading is easier on my eyes with the e-Ink version of Kindle, but I'm getting there! 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.
Feature I wish this had?
The #1 thing would have to be a Bluetooth connectivity option. Of course, if I put this right next to my iPad there could be others such as the larger screen and a 3G or 4G connection option, but that's going to be in next month's release and I would call myself an iPad-lite user vs. an experienced pro so who knows what else I could be missing (life has been good so far, so I'm not complaining)? For $159, I feel like I am getting a lot already.
The #2 thing would be a plug / charger that connects to an electrical outlet vs. a USb port on your computer or a USB-compatible charging plug you may already own. I realize they had to cut things out to keep the cost down to $159, and luckily I - like many of you - have lots of these things laying around. First time buyers may not, but they might be in the minority.
Overall, at $159 this is not a great deal it is an outstanding 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.
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Showing 1-10 of 30 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 14, 2012 11:28:43 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Dec 11, 2013 6:42:45 AM PST]
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2012 7:26:31 AM PDT
Michael Gallagher says:
This one is 3% lighter than the original, or 0.5 ounces lighter. It's pretty light.
Posted on Sep 15, 2012 9:15:05 AM PDT
My old fire had no way to put your books into catagories. Does the new fire have this?
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2012 9:35:47 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Dec 11, 2013 6:42:35 AM PST]
Posted on Sep 15, 2012 9:38:49 AM PDT
Christy Dixon says:
I also like the original Kindle's way of sorting the books as compared to the way the Fire has the carousel. So the newer ones still have the carousel just with additional tabs or are the tabs only in the Apps and Audio books? Thanks for the blog AND these reviews. I'm giving my original Fire to my 5 year old grandson for Christmas (yes he can operate it and loves it! Much better investment than the V-Techs he also has because this will grow with him) but I'm having a terrible time trying to decide what to get as the replacement. Your reviews are at least laying the facts out for me.
Posted on Sep 15, 2012 11:24:29 AM PDT
Jan Hoddy says:
Is a screensaver a 'must' with the FIRE?
Posted on Sep 15, 2012 11:45:07 AM PDT
Nell Jones says:
Thanks for the detailed description and comparison.
Posted on Sep 15, 2012 1:18:36 PM PDT
Larry S. says:
Michael, Please clarify Reading Books. Are you saying that reading books on this Kindle Fire is as easy/good as reading and e-ink Kindle (e.g., keyboard Kindle)? Or, that you are simply getting used to reading books on the Fire? Thanks!
Posted on Sep 15, 2012 5:34:55 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2012 5:37:29 PM PDT
William Clark says:
Thanks Michael. The Kindle lI have I got for Christmas 2010 an I enjoy the easy of using, but than maybe because I know how to use it. Is it hard to transfer the 90 or so book including my archives from my old to Kindle to a new Kindle. I don't know yet which one I want. I use it just for reading so the "Paperwhite" sound like the one I want with WI-F +3G Any advice?
Thanks again Dick Hohnbaum
Posted on Sep 15, 2012 6:26:54 PM PDT
Lynn M says:
Informative review, thank you. Although I wouldn't call them "Ads" per se under the tabs. It just suggests other apps, etc. that you might like. It's not like it's an ad for Master Card or Target or something, so I don't want people to think there are blatant ADS running through the fire.