Amazon Fire HD 7 2014 (4th generation) review

2015-01-14_08-17-57 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.

Cons:

  • 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/

The WeTab – the broken bicycle of Tablet computers?

A few weeks ago I posted very positively about the WeTab, an Apple iPad competitor that runs on Linux. I called it the Mercedes of Tablet computers. Since then I talked about it with colleagues, read tons of reviews and even posted questions in the WeTab Community Forum. Most people & reviews dislike the WeTab. Should I call it now the the bicycle of Tablet computers? For sure NOT!

One thing I can tell: Most negative reviews and opinions are simply outdated. I don’t have the WeTab yet but went to my local MediaMarkt electronics store to check if the allegations are true. Most of the allegations are wrong. Ok, there are  a few things that still need to be improved  but the company that designed the WeTab (meanwhile called WeTab GmbH) is still working on it and I’m sure they will do EVEYTHING they can to get things right in the long term!

The thing that I’m most worried about is the Android emulation. It’s at a very early stage right now:

Do I still want to get it? Heck, yes. Why? Because per specs the WeTab is the BEST tablet computer right now and the software will for sure improve with time. The people who designed the WeTab live the idea of open-source! For the most part of the software that comes with the WeTab I would need to pay 10$ each at the Apple App Store!

The video below shows the history of the PR-disaster around the WeTab (WePad how it was first called – video in German BTW)

Here a recent review of the WeTab at Computer Bild (in German) – they still don’t recommend it but I think they just don’t understand the idea of the WeTab: http://www.bild.de/BILD/digital/computer/2010/12/27/wetab-neue-version/tablet-pc-ipad-touchscreen-apps.html

The WeTab – the Mercedes of Tablet computers

Nope, it’s not the Volkswagen of Tablet computers. For sure not! Just read the specs but later more about that… The Apple G4 Titatnium PowerBook that we are using at home broke recently (my wife spilled water over the keyboard) and I started looking for a device that would replaced it. My first thought: the Apple iPad as it’s a great “Couch Internet Surfing Device” (it should get the acronym CISD 😀 = Tablets + Netbooks)… then I talked to my wife and she said she wants to keep watching DVDs on it (with earphones when our daughter sleeps for example). Basically that’s something you can’t do with the iPad without jail-breaking it.

After some research I found the WeTab, a tablet computer that has been in the German IT press  because of the CEO of the company who rated it positively on Amazon.de. That’s more or less illegal. Nothing uncommon in the business IMHO but he has been caught doing it. I have seen the WeTab recently in the print advertising of some large discounters too. Even MediaMarkt, the largest German electronics store chain started selling it.

The specs of the WeTab STRUCK me! Everything I waited for! USB that can connect external DVD and HD drives for watching movies and storing large photo archives. It runs Adobe Flash… very important for us as our daughter is watching free cartoons at http://www.bajkionline.com and they run only with Flash. It has a Webcam for Skype video calling with my uncle in Poland and even HDMI for connecting it to a TV! WOW! If the iPad is the Ford of tablet computers then this is truly the Mercedes. Quality made (better: designed) in Germany! …and the price?… it’s really competitive: 450€ for the basic 16GB model and 570€ for the 3G model with 32GB + GPS. Impressive! Moreover it runs the open-source MeeGo Linux that emulates Android so apps won’t be any problem in future. Productivity apps like the complete OpenOffice suite come with the WeTab too (for free – at Apple you would pay 10$ for each).

Today the Mac repair service guy called (http://www.mac-profis.de/ from Munich BTW – a great 3rd party Apple repair service) and told me the G4 is fixed (they had to replace the keyboard) but I will still get the WeTab FOR SURE! (probably around February when my company pays the bonus). The possibilities of the WeTab fully convinced me. Probably I will go for the 3G model so I can use it to surf the web while going to work with the bus.

More info: http://wetab.mobi/en

Community with Linux-fans running the WeTab with the rootshell (and without): http://wetab-community.de/index.php (German)


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