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Not the Greatest Tablet, but a Good One
on November 16, 2012
I wasn't really in the market for another tablet, but my girlfriend ended up getting one for me so she got me on this one. I would like to say that this tablet reminds me of the first Motorola Droid smartphone that came out several years back. The phone jam packed a ton of bells & whistles into its hardware and software to give a lot of bang for your buck. This is what it feels like amazon has done with the Kindle Fire 8.9. They have put a lot of advanced hardware and innovative software, so for the average user, specially someone who absorbs a lot of media, you get a lot for the price. But just because you get a lot for the price, doesn't mean it is without its flaws. This is an updated version of my likes and dislikes, (my original analysis was a bit rushed, this is more detailed):
I like the build of this product, it has good material design and durability. It feels nice in your hands and comfortable to hold with easy access to buttons. Since this is only 8.9" and not 10 or 11 inches, it is easier to grasp and hold in one hand with an overall good aesthetic look and feel to it.
I have to say, the more I listen to it, the more I like the sound. The speakers are definitely a step up from the norm and probably one of its best features. They produce a full, rich, and very vibrant sound you can experience music and movies the way they were meant to be experienced. It is not a home theatre experience, but as close as one can get with a small device like this.
The display is very nice. I'm not sure if it compares with the clarity of Super Amoled or Retina screens, but it comes close. High screen resolution is not special to the Kindle, lots of tablets now have high resolution screens, some higher. What this screen has that other tablets don't is the anti-glare, which works well under sunlight and highly lit places, it's not something that seems advantageous until you work with a screen that doesn't have this.
Kindle's Wi-fi and Silk Browser make internet browsing fast. I did a comparison with a Samsung and Apple tablet, and noticed that the surfing was faster, it wasn't a huge difference but it was noticeable. Streaming audio and video had a bigger and more noticeable difference, with the Kindle being very smooth, with fewer lags and dropped connections. This is key for me, I hate streaming content with pauses and breaks in loading, there is less of that in the Fire.
In my opinion, this is Fire HD's best feature, delivering a better reading experience than any tablet right now. This is no surprise as books are Amazon's claim to fame and where they excel and have always excelled. I don't know if you remember, but before Amazon was Amazon, they were the first online retailer for books. Before there was an iPad, there was the kindle. They have always been at the forefront of the book buying and reading experience, now especially digital books. I think I remember reading that the Kindle was the main reason Borders Bookstore went out of business, Borders said they just couldn't keep up with or match Amazon's delivery system.
Now with this Fire HD, they offer even more advancements. With its X-ray for books, its 'reading view' that takes away messy images on a site leaving only text, `immersive' reading that lets you play an audio book while reading, whispersync technology, and better optimization of text, other devices can't match. Granted it doesn't compare to digital ink like on the original Kindle for me did the best to mimic actual reading, but as far as tablets goes its better than what is out there. If you are getting a tablet primarily for reading, this is gonna be a good choice.
I have a love hate relationship with Amazon's Universe of services. I don't like how even though the Kindle HD uses Android, it is somewhat restricted. Also, they don't have as many apps as google or apple. But taking everything else into account, movies, books, music, prime lending library, prime movies, amazon is better. The big drawback is you have to own a kindle to fully enjoy their universe, which means if you own a kindle, you are limited from using other company's universe.
Apps and other features
All the apps work fine, they start and stop as they should, nothing to criticize or brag about. The touch screen is smooth and responds good, though nothing like iPad...hate to say it but iPad thumps everyone on that, their touch and scrolling is very fluid and just feels right. I don't have kids so I can't really comment on the parental controls but from other reviews seems like something to have if you have kids. Can access email and everything fine.
When it comes to bringing together the right mix of original and developing technology in a tablet, like the first Droid phone, Amazon did an admirable job. It merged a mix that most of us will enjoy and find useful. Although Amazon has put original elements that make this tablet worthy to compete in the tablet world, at the same time, they've done some things that make you question what they're doing.
This is the most disliked innovation to hit electronics since the Windows phone (and I don't mean the Windows 7 phone, I mean its predecessor, which was so disastrous nobody heard about its release and was pulled from shelves within two weeks). Microsoft was smart enough to pull its mistake, Amazon seems to continue to run with theirs.
As you have read in other reviews, this product does not come with a standard charger. I don't like that other reviewers excuse this by claiming it makes the product cheaper. Chargers are not expensive to produce so I don't think it makes the product cheaper, it gives Amazon more opportunity to recover the Kindle cost by charging $20+ dollars for an accessory that probably only costs a few dollars to make. Not sure how accurate this is, it's my own decision I've reached as it doesn't make sense not to include a standard charger adapter because for most people including myself, this is not a pc companion, rather a pc replacement. Without a real charger, it becomes a companion. Yes, you can buy one, but why make us do that.
The Kindle Fire 8.9 only has a front facing camera. It is useful for video chatting, but not for taking pictures. If I want to take a picture of something outside myself, I have to point the screen in that direction, which means I can't see what I am taking a picture of or have easy access to the camera buttons, doesn't make sense.
This is some of the qualms I have, nothing revolting.
All in all, do I like this Kindle HD? Yes. Will I keep it? Probably. Do I think it is the greatest tablet in the world? In some respects, yes, in others no. Should you buy it? The answer is this is not an all-in-one, do everything machine that the likes of iPad claim to be. With this it seems like amazon focused on some key things, like watching movies, listening to music, surfing the internet, and reading books. The things they concentrated on, they made sure to go full force to give users the best experience they could. They are things that most of us average users are going to use a tablet for...email, streaming, social media, video, music, for what amazon focused on with this product like I said they did admirably.