The Amazon Kindle Fire is one of the most anticipated tablet PCs of the year. When the information about its appearance was leaked a few months ago, everyone was eager to know more about this great device. A week ago, Amazon’s much awaited tablet made its way to the stores, and people hurried to get their hands on one. To top its amazing features, the tablet comes with other extra benefits that will improve the fiery experience, such as one free month of Prime membership – access to videos and streaming, and many more.
In terms of hardware, the new Kindle is great looking, smaller and lighter than the iPad, with a height of 190 mm, width of 120 mm and is 11.4 mm thick. It weighs only 413g, but don’t be fooled by that, as it’s quite robust, with the 1 GHz CPU Processor and its 512 MB of RAM. These features make it extremely fast and responsive, keeping up in every aspect with its main competitor, the Barnes & Noble Nook tablet, out a week before. The display features a 7 inch Gorilla Glass, with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels and is so far the most resistant and stable screen on the market, due to its shatterproof glass.
The speakers are on the top, this way avoiding the muffled sound most eBook readers get when held in landscape mode, and they are really loud. Compared to the iPad, the Kindle Fire gains many points in this department due to its very good speakers. Aesthetically speaking, the tablet is simple yet tasteful, slim and sleek. I might even go as far to say it’s sexy, with the lack of buttons and the Micro USB, Power button and 3.5 mm headphone jack ports carefully hidden. All the commands are carried out through its highly responsive touchscreen that is also less reflective than the better part of the tablet PCs out there.
When talking about software on the Kindle Fire, it is quite amazing how far Amazon has come since its emergence on the eBook reader market, with the classic Kindle. The Fire version runs on an updated Google Android 2.3, with an Amazon personalized user interface that gives a strong unique feel. The home screen features the last open ten things, in a pseudo 3D panoramic slide show, so work can easily be picked up from where it was left off. When in navigation mode, shopping books or Android apps, there’s always a tab allowing you to go to the most common programs.
Everything is just a click away and fits perfectly on a library shelf that holds all the content. The tablet doesn’t come with pre-loaded music, videos or books – the bookshelf contains only a few samples and a user guide. All content has to be loaded manually, or purchased online, from the ample Amazon library. Most tablet PCs have to work with third parties to get books and music, but not the Kindle. Luckily, it benefits of the vast Amazon ecosystem where you can purchase or rent virtually anything. Amazon App Store was also updated recently and is now much more tablet friendly, with submenus adapted for the 7 inch screen and attractive, diverse offers of their 1000 apps.
Several programs are shipped with the device, such as Facebook, Email, Contacts, Pulse, Quick Office and IMDB, and its web browser is quite smart. Silk will remember your favourites and will always move very fast. It makes the most of its 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and it even has tabs, so you can watch a video on YouTube on one page and an animation – with full Flash support, on another.
Another great feature is its keyboard: quick and with a great layout, customized for easy typing.
Even though the Kindle line started as eBook readers, the Fire version seems to have more focus on multimedia. Be that as it may, the eReading experience is quite awesome too. Its access to Amazon’s extensive libraries is a major plus, featuring hundreds of thousands of books, magazines and newspapers. The main book section includes many different genres, such as Top 100 Paid, Kids Books, Lending Library, Newsstand, New York Times Bestseller and Editor’s Picks. All of these come to you through a device that’s extremely flexible, with tons of settings that can be adjusted for your own pleasure. 12 built-in fonts, eight resizing options, background change, annotations, highlights – with automatic dictionary on the bottom and web search are just some of the options the Fire brings forth.
After using it for eight hours, the device finally needs to be charged, but the battery life varies depending on the Wi-Fi use for web browsing and download. The internal memory of 8GB can hold up to 80 apps and 10 movies/ 8000 songs/6000 books in many formats, as the device supports Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4 and VP8.
A major disadvantage is that the Amazon App Store will only deliver if the purchase is made in the USA. The plan is to add more states to their app destinations, but so far, the multitude of applications, music and videos is for American use only.
All in all, the Kindle Fire managed to be the awesome tablet everyone was waiting for. And it has a pretty decent price, too. For $199 you can get the whole package that Amazon has prepared for the 2011 holiday season. So far, the device is the best tablet and most sought, after Apple’s iPad 2 that costs three times more. It was high time that somebody created a complete tablet that not only looks nice, but offers a splendid Amazon experience.
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