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Kindle Fire HD
Kindle Fire HD 16GB
Member Name: ladyofcampfires
Kindle Fire HD 16GB
Advantages: Excellent display and speakers, price, very easy to use, quick streaming and downloading.
Disadvantages: No charging plug, extra costs for things which should really be included in the price of the Fire HD
A good few years back I received a Kindle 3 for Christmas, quite a bulky thing complete with black and white screen and a little keyboard along the bottom. Looking back it was quite old fashioned compared to such products now (how much they've come along in such a short space of time) but I thought it was the bees knees. When all it took was my 5lb cat to place a paw on the screen which broke the entire thing though, I was put off replacing my Kindle as it seemed very expensive for something which broke so easily despite how much I loved my e-reader.
I figured that, by now, the Kindles would have been improved and it may be worth investing in another one. I really liked the look of the Kindle Fire HD and seems as I had some Tesco club card vouchers and a 10% staff discount (there are some perks to that job) which would enable me to get one for just under £110 I decided I would treat myself to one. Over the last few months this little thing has become like my right arm and I use it excessively for all manner of things so it's probably time to write my review!
----- Price & Availability -----
The Kindle Fire HD seems to be the same price regardless of where you go so shopping around probably isn't something to worry about too much unless you have discounts/vouchers for a particular store. It can be bought from Amazon, supermarkets such as Asda and Tesco and just about anywhere that sells electrical items such as PC World and Currys. The 16GB model costing £159 and the 32GB model costing £199. It's worth noting that with your purchase you get free unlimited cloud storage which, in my opinion at least, makes spending an extra £40 on the 32GB one a little pointless.
----- What's in the Box -----
Not an awful lot actually! You obviously get your Fire HD, a 7inch black tablet weighing just 395g. You'll also get a USB charging cable and a quick start booklet which you may as well throw away to be honest. As long as you can work out where the on/off button is the Kindle itself will talk you through the rest!
There are no installation disks or anything as the Kindle doesn't require anything like that. Setting the Kindle up the first time you use it really is so quick and simple even the most technophobic of people would manage it hassle free.
----- Looks -----
Whilst it isn't the most important thing in the world, the Fire does look quite attractive. It's a matte black rectangle with dimensions of 193mm x 137mm x 10.3mm. It's extremely portable, lightweight and easy to hold. Across the back is a glossy black band which has Kindle engraved and the Amazon logo can be found at the bottom of the back of the Fire as well. In the top centre of the front of the Kindle is the little camera built in to this and along either side of that black glossy strip are the speakers. HDMi and charging points are located at the bottom whilst your on/off and volume buttons are along the side. Obviously a decent case is recommended to protect your Kindle and there are plenty of lovely designs available for the Fire HD on Amazon and Ebay etc which not only give you a little extra peace of mind when transporting your Kindle but also add that little bit of personalisation to your Kindle.
----- Technical Details -----
I won't bore you with everything whilst pretending to know what half of it means as this stuff can be lifted from the internet easily anyway. Instead I'll just mention the main features of the Fire HD and how I find using them.
You get your 7inch high definition touch screen colour display with anti-glare technology. The display is lovely and it's clear to see it's HD as everything from videos, web browsing and books look crystal clear and the anti-glare technology seems to work a treat too as I've never had a problem with that. The touch screen is sensitive enough to ensure you can use it freely and easily but not that sensitive that you're constantly doing things by mistake - another thing I really like as I hate oversensitive touch screens where breathing near them takes you onto some strange website you've never heard of!
There's no system requirements and this is ready to use straight away. Setting up is just a case of switching on, logging into your Amazon account (already done if you bought it from Amazon) or quickly creating an account if you don't have one, entering your wi-fi password and you're done. It really is that simple.
The battery life is a little rubbish and is probably is the Fire HD's biggest downfall. Amazon claim this has over 11 hours of battery life but I would disagree depending on what you're doing on it. You could probably get eleven hours if you're spending 11 hours reading with the odd bit of web surfing but using apps and games seem to kill the battery off significantly quicker and I don't think I've ever been able to use my Kindle two days in a row without charging.
Charge time, again is a downfall. This charges in 4 hours if you're using a Kindle 'PowerFast charging accessory' (a USB plug which says Kindle across the back). This is the recommended way to charge your Kindle but this is sold separately for another £17.99 which I find to be a ridiculous price. Using a 'normal' USB plug Amazon claim will take 'slightly longer', I use my apple one which came with my Iphone and find it takes roughly six hours to fully charge from no or very little battery. I can usually put my Kindle on charge when it's running low before bed and find I have a full battery in the morning when I wake up. This isn't too bad in terms of charge time but, again, no plug is included so you'd still have to purchase one if you didn't already own one. Fortunately these are much cheaper and can be picked up from ebay for a couple of quid. What you do get with your Kindle to charge it is absolute rubbish. Charging from your computer using the included USB lead will take 'approximately 13.5 hours' personally I'd say it takes longer than that. Sometimes it doesn't even charge at all when plugged into my computer! I really do think a plug should be included with the price of the Kindle, even if it's not an all singing all dancing 'Kindle PowerFast' one. Unfortunately this is just one of many little extras you have to buy separately with your Kindle to make the most of it.
Wi-fi connectivity is good, connecting to wi-fi is simple to do and I've never experienced a dropped connection on my Kindle, streaming and downloading is very quick to but this will vary depending on the connection you're using.
The audio is pretty decent. The Dolby speakers are of a high quality for such a device and don't produce that tinny sound you usually get with such things. They're not so good that I'd hold a disco using my Kindle or anything but they're perfectly adequate for watching TV and films with. The volume goes up way higher than someone with perfect hearing would need it, mine is never above 50% volume but, should you wish to have it louder you can do so without compromising on audio quality. Personally, I've been very impressed with the speakers really.
You also get a built in front-facing HD camera and a built in microphone making Skype to Skype calls a simple and pleasant experience. If you are a regular Skype user then I think you'll love this, the camera never freezers and is of decent quality (although I can't find any information about megapixels etc anywhere) and the microphone apparently allows you to be loud and clear on the other end of the line. To use this camera as an actual camera to take photos though you need to download one of the many apps which unlock this feature. Again, all cost extra money which I think is ridiculous for something which is already there! The cheapest I can find costs 69p from the Amazon app store.
'LoveFilm' is built into the Kindle under the 'videos' section and a thirty day free trail is included with your purchase. I have taken full advantage of the LoveFilm trail and can confirm that watching movies and TV programs on the Fire is a pleasurable experience. Here all the features really come to life, you get that excellent sound quality, HD displays and fast streaming which makes what could be a very frustrating experience a really nice on instead. Plus, providing you have a HDMI cable, you can always hook your Kindle up to your TV and watch your films on the bigger screen.
You can quickly and easily access the Amazon app and book store from the Kindle's home menu which is very handy. As you may expect, the book store is much more impressive than the app store. You have thousands of free titles at your fingertips and just about every book in print is available through the store, more often than not, for a reasonably low price (my Dooyoo miles have been keeping my reading library stocked recently that's for sure)!
The app store isn't quite so full though. There's still plenty to pick from mind you and popular games such as a The Sims Freeplay, Angry Birds and Temple Run are available as well social networking apps like facebook, twitter, instagram and Kik messenger. The apps available are still decent mind you, you can find an app for almost anything really but as an Iphone user I'm used the absolutely massive apple app store and this just doesn't compare. There's nowhere near as many free apps either. On the plus side the apps and books download extremely quickly, I don't think I've ever downloaded anything which has taken longer than twenty seconds.
Should you wish to mix business with pleasure you can read e-mail and attachments through the Kindle as well as syncing calendars and contacts, your Kindle even has its own e-mail address so you can send your documents to it and never be without them. These features are not ones I don't really have any need for though thus haven't used so can't comment on how well they function.
You can import your pictures from facebook or your computer onto your Kindle too and using one of the many photo editing apps change them as you like! You can quickly share photos with anyone by e-mailing them which takes all of five seconds to do.
----- My Personal Experience -----
In short, I absolutely love it. Nothing is perfect though and the Fire does have its downfalls. The main for me being it's little hidden extra costs. On top of those already mentioned your screensaver is just advert after advert and if this annoys you then you have to pay Amazon another £10 to get rid of those adverts. Personally I wouldn't bother doing this as it really doesn't affect the Fire experience. They are just used as screensavers thus only pop up when you're not really using the Fire. Inbetween the mayonnaise ads you can even find some pleasing offers too so it's not all bad.
I find reading can be a little harsh on the eyes too. The permanent backlight does hurt my eyes and give me headache if I'm reading for prolonged periods of time and is basically the same as reading off of a computer screen. This is a big downfall for me as I do use my Fire mostly for reading but then this is a tablet rather than an e-reader and if that was all you were looking for I dare say you'd go for one of the e-reader versions of the Kindle.
It's great for web surfing though. The wifi is fast, everything is clear and readable and you can open multiple tabs at once. You can bookmark pages, view your history and browse through 'selected sites' and see trending news articles all from your home screen. They qwerty keyboard is well spaced out meaning you don't end up hitting three letters with your finger tip and you get a nice built in spell checker! I really cannot pick any faults with this aspect of the Fire whatsoever.
When browsing for books and apps the handy 'recommended for you' feature is available which, in usual Amazon style, is mostly accurate and I've discovered some good books by looking through that. Browsing for books though, for me anyway, is a bit of pain when going to the book store directly through the Kindle. I'm one of those people who can spend an hour browsing for a new title before deciding to purchase it and I like to dive deep into different genres where I normally find some nice hidden gems rather than just what is popular at the moment. Unfortunately going through the Fire to the store pretty much only allows you to see what is popular at the moment which, thanks for 50 Shades, is mostly just 'mummy porn' recently! Luckily going onto the actual Amazon website on my Kindle to have a proper look is easy as can be.
Another feature I like about reading on the kindle is that if you should come across a new word highlighting it makes the dictionary definition pop up which is really handy. The Oxford dictionary and thesaurus are already on the Fire too should you wish to browse for new words. I've personally always been a fan of reading a page of the dictionary a day. When you've finished a book Amazon will prompt you to review it when you've read the last page. You can also share you've finished via facebook and twitter too which I really like. Me and a friend are taking on the challenge of reading 50 books for pleasure this year and this is a handy tool to allow us to see how each other are doing.
Playing games on this is great fun and there are even a selection of multi-player games too. Me and my Sister spends ages playing Jenga against each other on my Fire and it comes with the added bonus of not having to clean it up and keep rebuilding the tower! I thought Angry Birds was addictive on my Iphone but it's nothing compared to how addictive it is on a 7inch HD display!
----- All in All -----
I use my Fire HD daily. I'd be completely lost without it now and if I were ever pressed, I'd happily swap my phone for it. I've not used any other tablets to compare this one to but I really do think you get great value for money here. I can't believe an Ipad is that much better it's worth the extra £300 (or something along those lines).
I would highly recommend it although I would also highly recommend buying some sort of USB plug adaptor too as charging off of your computer using the supplied USB cable is just awful. I really think the Kindle should already come with one mind you but there you go.
In conclusion, the Fire HD is a lovely tablet for a reasonably low price which is great for web surfing, reading, watching movies and playing games among other things. It's so simple to use it literately takes five minutes to set up and a further five minutes to work everything out. I'd thoroughly recommend this to anyone looking for a tablet computer and believe its downfalls are worth saving the amount of money you do compared to buying other similar tablets. I would really love to give this five stars as the general experience using this has been wonderful for me, I am going to have a knock a star off though just for the fact you don't get a USB adaptor plug with it as I find this really is something which should come with the Kindle.
Summary: A very pleasant tablet computer for a very pleasant price.
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