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back to article Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7in Android tablet review

Carl Jung once wrote that a beautiful woman is a terrible disappointment. And so it is with Amazon's long awaited (it's been a year) British release of its Kindle Fire 7in tablets. Having pre-ordered the top-end 32GB Fire HD model, I was thrilled when I found it waiting for me at home and excited as I tore open the box, but grew …

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WTF?

" the Kindle Fire HD is so closely tied in to Amazon's own App Store that it blocks access to all other Android App Stores. The Fire may run on Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich but don't expect to use it as a general-purpose Android tablet because Amazon won't let you."

Stopped reading at that point. If they are adopting Apples closed garden I am not interested at all regardless of what specs it has.

No single vendor does everything I want all the time. I want choice and the ability to buy where and what I want to buy.

Not interested... Next.

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Devil

Why stop there?

You were only 3 short paragraphs from the end

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Unhappy

" If they are adopting Apples closed garden I am not interested at all regardless of what specs it has."

I couldn't agree more, they're not just adopting Apple's closed garden, they're taking it to a whole new level!

If they gave it away for free or included it in the price of a subscription (to Lovefilm or whatever) it might be worth having, but to ask people to pay to be so tightly locked into their store - that's barmy.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah if they gave it free with a prime membership or you had to pay £5 a month subscription it would make more sense as thats pretty much all it can do. I have Lovefilm but to be honest even if they gave me one I don't think it would get used as it's too restrictive - maybe one of the kids would use it but pretty sure they would still try and get an iPad out of me for xmas.

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I totally agree - this has "free gift" written all over it. Or, it should anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

It

It just works

Eh

No it doesn't

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FAIL

Have to agree

My 2 32GB ones have gone back and another Nexus 7, perhaps the cellular one will be joining the 16gb nexus 7 in our house.

Too heavy and too wide for childrens use.

Too limited for adult use.

The fact that it was cheaper than a Nexus gave it a head start, but it's lost that advantage now.

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Re: Have to agree

My Dad now has a hankering for a tablet and has been looking at the cheap end ones (because he is a pensioner you know). As my Mum has a kindle for reading then, naturally, he is looking at the Fire HD but I've been trying to steer him away from the Amazon lock-in which appears worse than Apple.

If he had a smartphone then I would suggest the wifi Nexus 7 (he can then buy mine as I personally find Android to be a 'meh' compared to iOS) but he doesn't, so then a 3G version would be best.

If he had the budget I would direct him towards the iPad mini with 3G as it would do everything he needs and be so simple to use (and for me to remotely support!).

However, I'm still unconvinced he actually has a real use case for a tablet .. although he is after a replacement SatNav and a small tablet makes a great SatNav (co-pilot live, Skobbler, navfree, google maps, etc).

If only iOS was available for the Nexus 7 then it would be a no-brainer 8-)

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Re: Have to agree

Ditto here - wife got one as a gift, and had (not irrationally for an average punter) assumed that since I could get the apps shes uses on her iPhone on my androids, she's be able to get them on this, as well as read ebooks.

After weeks of waiting it arrived, was opened with joyous smiles, which quickly turned to a frown.

After letting her get frustrated with it for an hour or so I stepped in as the voice of reassuring experience "pass it here dear, I'll sort it".

Boy did I look a tit.

Hadn't realised it was THAT tightly locked to Amazon.

Crap selection of apps, couldn't (wasn't allowed to) download anything to get rid of that god awful carousel, and couldn't open most of her books.

What turned out to be the real deal breaker for her was not being able to put pictures in the background.

I'll be honest, I didn't try hard to sort this as it's not the most important thing in my world, but to her it was something she expected to be able to do, which isn't unreasonable I suppose. But, on top of everything else, it was the straw that broke the camels back.

I suggested jailbreaking to get proper android on there (which I'd have been happy with, and was quite looking forward to doing) but she, probably wisely, decided to send it back.

Nexus 7 seems to me to be the best replacement (for what she'll use it for/price), but she's now a bit reluctant to go with android and has fallen back into the "must get Apple" mindset and is eyeing up an iPad mini.

What could have been a brilliant device for helping getting average punters to think of looking beyond the fruity shop window has probably shoved a few back in there, too scared to dip a toe outside again.

Amazon isn't Apple - they don't have the same kind of eco-system built up as a familiar place for users to do what they're used to doing (even if there are other, possibly better ways to do it out there).

A bit more time spent thinking about why people want a tablet, instead of thinking about how to stop them doing anything you don't want them to, could have made this a brilliant device.

Opportunity missed methinks.

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Anonymous Coward

60% is probably generous - basically they are selling it at cost so don't want you using it for anything else. I've also read reports of all sorts of problems with media / services not working - not sure I would want to be a guinea pig and the iPad Mini is looking more tempting now.

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Anonymous Coward

Everyone I have spoken to seems to be talking of getting an iPad Mini (or full size) - when I suggested the Amazon Fire HD the lower cost did not seem to be an issue. Perhaps they are all rich ;)

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Pirate

It depends upon what your 'use case' is.

I have one of these. It is strictly for ebooks, music and stuff like that. Oh, a few PDF manuals as well.

I have all my email etc setup on my phone so I don't really need that.

I do agree that as a tablet, it feels even more walled-in than an iPad.

But you can sideload stuff (search for kindle fire hd sideload)

so it isn't all bad news.

I'm going to give it a decent trial between now and christmas. Then I'll give it a rating but 60% seems so far IMHO to be far too low.

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Re: It depends upon what your 'use case' is.

But for your usecase, a Nexus 7 does all that, PLUS more, for the same money.

The only plus of the hd is slightly better/bigger screen.

Much much better speakers, for those very few times you're not going to be on headphones.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It depends upon what your 'use case' is.

Sideload sounds like a reach around. How can you say 60% is too low when basically you are just using it for ebooks (from Amazon only), music (Amazon / Amazon Cloud only) and a few PDFs? For you it may be 60% but you have a very low requirement for tablet usage. As soon as you want iPlayer = 0%, how about YouTube = 0% = FAIL

It is so limited as to be near useless - unfortunately people will buy it as it's cheap but if anything may put them off tablets completely. I don't like the idea of how limited you are - makes an iPad look almost open source.

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Re: It depends upon what your 'use case' is.

You have a good point. however I don't use Google+ or any of their services so I don't really want to sign onto Google when I really have no need to (create another web account and remember the password). also, from the reviews I read that Nexus does not have as good a battery life as the Kindle.

I shall find out how good the kindle is on Sunday when I'm flying to LAX. If it lasts the whole of the flight then I'll be pretty satisfied.

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Re: It depends upon what your 'use case' is.

Its true that the Nexus 7 has a somewhare disappointing battery life (especially compared to an iPad) and I find I have to keep turning things off (like wifi, bluetooth and GPS) to get through a full day which I find completely unnecessary with an iPad.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It depends upon what your 'use case' is.

Both iPlayer and YouTube work on the Fire HD

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This is The Register, right?

"OK, perhaps I could break down the Fire's defences with SDKs and sideloading tricks but why should I? "

Because that would be fun and interesting and the first thing that most readers of this site would do?

I can't be alone in thinking that this might just be a cheap bundle of useful parts on which I could run software that suited my own purpose - so why not give that a go in a Reg review?

Has anyone here done this? How did it go?

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Re: This is The Register, right?

>so why not give that a go in a Reg review?

Because those who have the inclination to do that sort of thing know that the internet is their friend, and don't need to be told by a single review whether it is possible. The review suggested that the target market might be composed of Mrs Dabbs (Senior).

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Re: This is The Register, right?

If the Register was writing reviews for my mum and sending me elsewhere for the geeky stuff it would be barking, and not up the right tree either.

Should be perfectly possible to do a review of the product as presented (including useful technical details which seem to have been omitted - where was the battery life test? Can we have a little more about the screen than "The display is beautiful"?) and then go on to examine it with a Reg readerly eye.

The reviewer "spent the night discovering what [ he ] couldn't do with it" but why not spend the morning discovering what one can? I don't mind waiting until the afternoon for the review.

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Why anyone would get this over a Nexus 7 is beyond me.

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Anonymous Coward

Agree Nexus 7 or iPad Mini are the far better options depending on your choice of OS. The Fire takes all the bad bits of Android and packs in more restrictions than iOS. No thanks.

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It's much more useful...

...when you root it and install the Google Marketplace.

I did such with my original Kindle Fire and I enjoy it a lot more. You can even go as far as putting custom ROMs on, but the Kindle fork of Android is pretty useful still for just e-reader use and my experience has been that it has the best sleep mode power management of any Android device I've yet seen, on par with Apple devices. If I lay it down and don't use it for a month, it's still got exactly the same battery level when I do pick it up again.

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Re: It's much more useful...

Anybody know why Black Plague was downvoted?

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Re: It's much more useful...

Perhaps downvoted for suggesting rooting it when it's been mentioned elsewhere that it's looking very unlikely you will be able to do so on the new models. I don't know, people downvote by accident, out of spite, because it was closer to their mouse cursor, any number of reasons.

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Re: It's much more useful...

I look at the internet as I would to a garden. The bees are the idiots that pop up around pressing the vote-down button as they please. Now, usually these bees hang out in the conniver alley (4chan, chat-roulette etc...)

It seems they are growing a brain as they come more often to chrysanthemums (digital age related) websites.

Oh, and to the random down-voter; "You are still living with your parents and should be reprimanded in the most awkward way!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's much more useful...

Downvoted for calling Bees idiots! How very dare you .. they are extremely intelligent little creatures and we'd soon die out without them, shame on you.

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Go

Re: It's much more useful...

.... I bow my head in shame.... You are, of course right. Bees should not be compared to idiots as bees have great purpose in life! I meant to say hornet! (nobody likes them, right?)

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Linux

Re: It's much more useful...

...or you could just buy a less restricted Android to begin with.

That's the key advantage of "fragmentation". There's a fragment for everyone.

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Re: It's much more useful...

because it was closer to their mouse cursor, any number of reasons.

"downvoting from a tablet or smartphone" would probably be one of those other reasons, presumably.

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Anonymous Coward

Carl Jung and Harry Belafonte

"But if you make an ugly woman your wife, You'll be happy for the rest of your life."

Anonymous - in case the wife reads this

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Anonymous Coward

For a device that will probably end up being sent back or dumped in a drawer of crap tech I think 35% is more appropriate. How many normal users (i.e. your parents) are going to SIDELOAD applications and no YouTube or iPlayer kills it dead. For me it's 0% - I said 35% as some people may not actually want to use it for more than Lovefilm but as the reviewer pointed out the variety of streamable content if poor to say the least.

Lastly - if it works by streaming how do I copy a few movies onto it to watch on the plane - sounds like it's not possible. So basically it's a cheap tablet but almost certainly going to drive people nuts. Even android lovers will probably hate it as it's more closed than an iPad but what do you expect when they sell it at cost. Unfortunately my time and blood pressure has a cost...

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Got one for my wife and she's happy with it but even she found the whole setup process confusing. The only USP is the lovefilm streaming app. I'd like that for my playbook.

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Anonymous Coward

What happens if you want Netflix / someone else?

iPlayer? 4OD etc.? Hope she's still happy with that 3 legged cat.

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Anonymous Coward

How can you review a tablet...

but not test the battery life? Or mention how good/bad the screen is? Or what the available app selection is like? Or what video formats / third-party video players are supported? Or how good the speakers are? (Very, if what I read in other reviews is true).

Thanks for telling us you don't like Downton Abbey though, that's a real help.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How can you review a tablet...

No point having great battery life if it's in a drawer / box on it's way back to Amazon.

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Holmes

Buy cheap...

Buy twice - just go and buy an iPad, job done and you get a device thats usable. Just to stop the rabid 'driod rent bois down voting this post until the internet breaks, i have a number of driod products and i do like driod but not having 1 stable ecosystem is killing it. iOS is better IMHO (cheap knock offs are never as good as the real thing to be honest :D)

No i am just waiting to see how low a post can be down voted...

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Re: Buy cheap...

Have you used a Nexus 7?

I'd say it has a pretty damn good and stable ecosystem.

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Re: Buy cheap...

"(cheap knock offs are never as good as the real thing to be honest :D)"

And expensive knock-offs are even worse. Hence why I wouldn't touch iOS with a barge pole.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Buy cheap...

" iOS is better IMHO"

I'm sure it is good for some things, shame that every time I see it, it reminds me of Program Manager in Windows 3.1

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Linux

Re: Buy cheap...

My local iFan defected after using a 7 inch Galaxy Tab 2.

Replaced her phone.

Stopped using her iPad.

Asked for a Kindle too.

> i do like driod but not having 1 stable ecosystem is killing it.

There is nothing wrong with the Android "ecosystem". This is just Lemming 2.0 fear mongering.

The great thing about Android is that you aren't stuck with the ONE AND ONLY ONE choice that ONE AND ONLY ONE company offers.

So it doesn't really matter if Amazon Brand sucks. There are plenty more to choose from.

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Or you could do what I did...

And get yourself a £75 android 4.0.4 tablet including keyboard case, otg, hdmi, tf and dual core.

Whats not to like, specially with the 6 hour battery life and LiFe cell.

Too soon?

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Re: Or you could do what I did...

do you have a link, or a name of such a device ?

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Re: Or you could do what I did...

dx.com/p/7-capacitive-android-2-3-tablet-w-camera-wifi-hdmi-tf-cortex-a8-1-5ghz-4gb-111713

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Re: Or you could do what I did...

The keyboard case came from amazon, £6 something plus postage but dx do several - you need an otg one as tablet doesn't have built in bt. I havent tested bluetooth over otg yet.

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Re: Or you could do what I did...

A single core Cortex A8, 800x480 TN screen, 512MB RAM, 4GB of flash (even if it has a TF slot Android is picky about what will run from there) and a single 300k camera?

In the same price bracket you can find the Ainol Novol 7 Crystal with a twin A9 CPU, 1024x600 IPS screen, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of flash, 2M pixel camera Android 4.1 and a bigger battery.

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Re: Or you could do what I did...

I got the one I got because it was from somewhere I trust with good reviews - and it does what I need it to. Plus I am on a major budget. Not to mention I have never been a fan of silly resolutions on small screens, it just eats battery and hurts my eyes.

But thanks for making my point - you dont need to pay silly money for 7" tablets or lose functionality if you dont. Its fact that the guts of the samsung galaxy tab are precisely the same as the guts of some much cheaper tablets - doesnt if feel good that you paid twice the price?

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Facepalm

It does do iPlayer though...

Still doesn't detract from the overall review though.

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Kindle 3 owner.

I'm glad I stayed the hell away from that thing and got a Nexus 7.

If I wanted a locked down tablet, I'd have gotten an ipad. The Kindle isn't a tablet, its just a door into a no choice store.

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Having spent an hour playing with one.....

I find El Reg's review overbearingly negative. Quite frankly, if you don''t want to be tied into Amazon, simply pay more for an open device. In the case of the Fire HD I had a play with, the owner is super happy to have a nice tablet, great screen, decent web browsing and access to here emails, calendars, Facebook, LoveFilm and so on.

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