After my Medion (Lenovo) Lifetab E7316 7″ Android tablet broke because it felt down from the bedside table I started looking for a replacement. That said I found it astonishing how thin the glass on the screen of the Medion was. The tablet was inside a leather case when it felt down but not even that could save the glass from cracking. I never really considered the Kindle Fire HD models before because of the Amazon ecosystem but since several months I have Prime so I thought I give it a try. Some benefits like the free books access of Prime are available only on real Kindle devices and not through the Amazon App. Amazon also offered a 30 Euro discount on the new 2014 models during the Christmas sale so I went for a 16 GB 7″ Fire HD. After using it for about a month I can say I’m fully satisfied but there are some downsides too. Pros:
- Powerful Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 SoC with 1,5 GHz (http://www.ti.com/product/omap4460). Amazon says it’s a quad core but it’s more of a dual core with two extra cores for low profile tasks. Dead Trigger 2 and Riptide GP 2 run smoothly.
- Sharp 1280×800 screen with good view angles. Brightness can be turned up really well to deal with strong sunshine.
- Excellent Dolby stereo speakers. Try putting the tablet on a table. It’s amazing because they are positioned in a way that it will boost the volume.
- Awesome Wi-Fi reception. Where my other wireless devices fail the Fire HD manages to get a good signal strength.
- Fast battery charging. I think I never saw any mobile device that charges so fast.
- HDR-Capable camera with face recognition and video recording in 1080p.
- Easy to use Fire OS based on the latest Android 4.4 with a favorite apps carousel, good on-screen keyboard and user accounts for family members. Amazon Instant Video that I get with Prime is nicely integrated.
- Silk Browser. The browser is really fast and the compatibility is great.
- Good choice of cases from third-party suppliers. I got one from iHarbort that fits really well.
- Good support by email and phone but no video live chat. This might be US only.
- Price. Even without the sale the regular price is really good compared to models by Samsung I.e.
- 7″ and the black border together make the device perfect for holding in one hand. Even typing is possible with the thumb if necessary. Some might find the thickness of the device disturbing but I find it useful for holding it.
- Last but not least the device is available in a range of colors and in the U.S. there is even a kids edition. This is not available yet in Europe apparently.
- Walled Garden. The App Store can’t compete with Google Play. You get the most important Apps but you can’t find everything in the Amazon App Store. The most recent titles like new games aren’t available either. The only good thing is that Amazon gives away free Apps from time to time. I also noticed Apps are a bit more expensive than in the Google play store.
- No Google Apps like YouTube or Google Maps. Google seems to be pissed about Amazon using Android and putting Bing as the default search. There are alternative apps for the same though. The down side is that they are ad supported in most cases.
- Battery doesn’t hold long but at least charges fast.
- Buggy family profiles. In-App-Purchases can’t be transferred to a user profile although the App itself can be. Videos a family member records can’t get uploaded to the cloud storage. Family members can’t watch Amazon Instant Video.
- Buggy Browser. Although it’s fast and renders sites correctly there are bugs like links not being opened from the Facebook app sometimes. Shared posts on Facebook get entered twice.
Here is a short hands on review by CNET: I highly recommend this Fire fan page with tons of tutorials and tips & tricks like side loading Google Play Apps without rooting: http://www.lovemyfire.com/
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