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Apples are not the only Fruit...
Member Name: azana
Date: 18/12/12, updated on 23/12/12 (82 review reads)
Advantages: great price for a tablet
Disadvantages: locked to amazon more or less
First out of the box the fire is pretty easy to set up. It found our wifi easily, it comes pre-charged and we were ready to go at once. There's no software to install, and the whole feel is of simplicity. The back is a nice tactile plastic and the whole thing is a compact 189 mm x 120 mm x 11.5 mm, and feels really well made. The screen is tough "gorilla glass" and it all seems sturdy. There are integrated speakers and a headphone port - on this fire bar an off button there's very little else. One thing that is a shame and, actually, in comparison with an iPad is there is no volume button. This is a pity as if you are mid app or viewing you have to come out of it and go to the home screen to change the volume, clumsy to say the least. As far as other basics go Amazon include a USB cable in the box but not a plug adapter - earlier kindles used to come with one, so if you want to charge via a plug you will have to purchase one for a few extra pounds if you don't own one already - this is a bit mean really in my opinion.
When we, or more accurately my 9 year old got going with the kindle on first use, we had already downloaded some apps onto the amazon "cloud" and these were instantly downloadable. I will talk about apps first as these, along with surfing of the internet are probably going to be what many people will use this for. Amazon have made the interface on the screen easy to understand and you are soon scrolling through the "carousel", which is the display of your most needing access items - and it's easy to understand how to swipe and scroll through your most used items and access the range of options through the menu at the top of the screen one of which is the app store. There is a free featured app available each day - some of these have been very good such as "paper monsters" but you should be aware that the amazon app store is not exhaustive. Whilst some better known i-tunes titles are available there are, for now at least, some strange omissions, no "where's my water?" a popular Disney title, which is annoying - still there is plenty of availability and it's easy to disable in-app purchases and also to put on a parental control so that you can decide who is lured by the apps on offer. I don't think that in use we really miss apps requiring a camera, which this doesn't have, but if "stargazer" is your thing that's not going to work here. Generally we've found the processor good enough to run most apps well - the currently popular free and beautifully rendered "snowman" app runs just as well on Fire as on iPad in my opinion, however some apps like bridge constructor are a bit laggy and there have been times when the device has crashed and had to be re-powered. Connectivity is good though and the integrated speakers are surprisingly loud and the sound is not over tinny, given the price of this tablet. The speakers are stereo - the more expensive Fire HD has dolby audio which may be of interest to some.
At 400gms it does somehow manage to feel a little heavy to hold over long times, albeit silent and cold to touch - given its compact size. I would imagine adding a cover (which we haven't as yet) would improve it's versatility for propping up for viewing of video. Talking of which, there's a free one month trial of lovefilm with the fire, which synchs with other devices you may have - we haven't used this yet, and it would be £4.99 from there on in, however I have used it with bbc iplayer and it streams surprisingly well. You can download photos and films onto the kindle - we haven't done this yet and have just been using various apps to watch content. At 1024x600 pixel resolution watching this is clearly different from watching HD, but it is certainly good enough in my opinion - if you are hung up on only watching things in HD quality clearly you are going to want to buy the more expensive Fire HD. Brightness is adjustable from the home screen and you can easily access any music or books you have in your amazon cloud, which is also where everything is backed up.
We've found it a bit of a pain that the kindle fire is linked automatically to all books we have on kindle, you can go through and remove them from the display one by one - I haven't found another way - but this is only a small issue. Generally the fire works smoothly and holds its charge fairly well - I would say you would get a full day's use out of it before charging, clearly nothing like the month its sister kindle can manage but a non e-ink screen and using sound is always going to be more power hungry. It does take a while to recharge, even with a plug, which is a point to be aware of if you are going to be using a lot. You can buy a fast charge plug for £17.99 that reduces the charge time from overnight to a couple of hours.
As far as other uses of the kindle goes I don't find the kindle fire as comfortable to read books on this device as via my kindle, it's akin to reading on a computer screen. For browsing the web though the kindle fire is fine (though it doesn't run flash)- you can forget you are on an android device and not an ipad and use pinch gestures to zoom, again this works well. The interface is all pretty well intuitive and easy for even a child to understand, it has been well designed.
Whilst I doubt that I have explored all the possibilities of this table - I'm not the most tech savvy of users and I haven't used it to access documents for example, I've used it a lot and am more impressed by what is essentially an entry level tablet than I thought I would be. I can't compare it to the nexus 7 which I haven't used, however although as I said at the start it's not an iPad, for the price really you can't fault it. It may be worth paying a little more for the Kindle Fire HD if you want better sound and images (I believe it has a volume button too), and the ads on the save screen may annoy some - but I think it's a great item for the price I paid, even given the fact that you can't get every app on it and are tied to amazon, in the same way I suppose that an iPad sees you locked to i-tunes. My daughter has had lots of fun with this which outguns a Nintendo DS as far as we are concerned. For a child it's a great tablet and for anyone wanting to get onboard the tablet train it's definitely worth a look.
Summary: not an ipad - but not claiming to be one
|Ease of use:|
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