Review: Amazon Kindle Fire
Little smoke with no fire.
Well priced; Perfect for tablet users on a budget.
Cloud services don't work in India; Only Wi-Fi connectivity; Lacks expandable memory.
Is it an ebook reader or is it a tablet? Marketed as a tablet, Amazon's Kindle Fire has finally made its way into the Indian market. The tablet has been priced higher for India as compared to the $200 (approx. Rs 10,250) asking price of the US version. Although its features look promising, a partial implementation of Android Gingerbread is a dampner. Let us find out how the Amazon's first colour tablet fares.
Design And Specs
The retail box includes a tablet and a charger. The device measures 7.5" (l) x 4.7" (w) x 0.455" (d), and weighs in at 415 grammes. Build quality is great and the back panel sports a grip-enhancing rubberised feel. It does seem a bit heavy, but is nonetheless comfortable to hold. The full-color tablet features a 7" touchscreen with pixel dimensions of 1024x600.
As evident in the pictures, the screen is quite reflective. However, you can read text and view videos with ease on the crisp and clear screen, provided you are indoors. The touch device is powered by a dual-core 1 GHz TI OMAP 4 CPU and 512 MB RAM. Other bells and whistles include Wi-Fi connectivity, 3.5 mm jack, micro-USB port, 8 GB of internal storage, and a 4400 mAh battery. The only physical button on the device is the power switch located at bottom of the tablet, whereas the speakers are at the top. The button may be odd, but orientation isn't an issue thanks to an inbuilt accelerometer.
User Interface And Apps
The gadget runs on a highly modified Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), stripped of the Android Market. This means, you're stuck with the Amazon Store. The tablet features links to apps, which then need to be downloaded. These include apps such as Pandora, ESPN, and the Comic Store app, among others. There is no built-in file explorer, but the QuickOffice lite app is an able substitute. The touchscreen works well, but the tablet tends to be a bit laggy. Moreover, the screen doesn't adjust brightness automatically, which is a bit disappointing. As far as internet surfing is concerned, Amazon's much-hyped Silk browser lives up to the expectations. It even compresses data for a quicker browsing experience. In simple words, it's is an Opera Mini with a better interface.
Considering Amazon has been in the business of selling ebooks, and that the tablet interface comes from its Kindle Android app, its worth as an eBook reader should also be evaluated. The device supports MS Office file formats, PDF, ePUB, Kindle (AZW), and PRC file formats. As for audio books, the device supports Audible file formats. There is no way to wrap text within PDF documents, so reading gets a bit taxing. Moreover, your zoom settings are reset when you switch pages, which is a bit annoying. However, Word files work like a charm, thanks to QuickOffice. Unfortunately, you can't create any files using the app though. The PDF files I had converted to PRC and Kindle formats didn't work at all either.
The Kindle Fire can play music and videos stored locally as well as on the cloud. Since the Amazon Cloud Drive is not available outside US, it is useless for Indian users. The audio quality is quite decent through the speakers. I tested the 3.5 mm output with a pair of Sony walkman series earphones, and the sound seemed fine. Since the tablet doesn't have external volume controls, you are restricted to the touch interface for that. The player doesn't feature with equalizer settings either.
The tablet does not have a camera, but you can view images and videos on through the gallery app. The kindle supports WAV, MP4, VP8 file formats. It does not play HD video files, which is disappointing. At 480p, the videos play well and look crisp.
Battery And Verdict
The Kindle Fire comes with a Li-ion battery, which the company claims is good for 8 hours of typical usage and 7.5 hours of video playback. The tablet works fine well past the 8 hour mark for normal use; especially when the usage is restricted to just music, reading, and watching videos.
For Rs 14,000, the tab offers a good capacitive touchscreen, a long battery life, and decent multimedia options. However, the lack of an app store and Cloud support (for India) is a letdown. Moreover the sparse connectivity options also weakens the device's case as a good tablet. However, if you are looking for a budget tablet, the Kindle Fire is definitely is a better option than Reliance 3G Tab and the Spice Tab Mi-720.
Design And Build Quality: 3/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3/5
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