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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  1. NoneSuch
    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.

    1. AceRimmer
      Devil

      Why stop there?

      You were only 3 short paragraphs from the end

    2. Badvok
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

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

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It

      It just works

      Eh

      No it doesn't

  2. Ian Watkinson
    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.

    1. Synonymous Howard

      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-)

    2. Phil S
      FAIL

      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.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    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 ;)

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    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.

    1. Ian Watkinson

      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.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        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.

        1. Synonymous Howard

          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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

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

        Both iPlayer and YouTube work on the Fire HD

  6. Lord Voldemortgage

    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?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      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).

      1. Lord Voldemortgage

        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.

  7. mikeyboosh

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  8. Black Plague

    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.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: It's much more useful...

      Anybody know why Black Plague was downvoted?

      1. PaulR79

        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.

        1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

          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.

      2. Martin Huizing
        Thumb Down

        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!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Martin Huizing
            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?)

    2. JEDIDIAH
      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.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    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

  10. Anonymous Coward
    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...

  11. James 51 Silver badge

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What happens if you want Netflix / someone else?

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

  12. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  13. Longrod_von_Hugendong
    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...

    1. Mark C Casey

      Re: Buy cheap...

      Have you used a Nexus 7?

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

    2. M Gale

      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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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

    4. JEDIDIAH
      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.

  14. Jemma Silver badge

    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?

    1. Zolko
      Thumb Up

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

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

      1. Jemma Silver badge

        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

      2. Jemma Silver badge

        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.

        1. Steve Todd

          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.

          1. Jemma Silver badge

            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?

  15. quarky
    Facepalm

    It does do iPlayer though...

    Still doesn't detract from the overall review though.

  16. Dana W
    Thumb Down

    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.

  17. Jason Hindle

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

      Clearly they have very low expectations. I mean if you are used to a b/w kindle sure it's great - but it's like offering a caged bird a gold plated cage.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

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

        "Clearly they have very low expectations"

        Yes, when Kindle Fire fisrt came out in the US last year I couldn't wait until it became available in the UK - then I started to read reviews and realized how tied to Amazon it was and my interest started to wane. Eventually had a play with one a couple of weeks ago when browsing on a day in London (my "American" son had required us to pay a family visit to the US embassy so he could get a US passport for a school ski trip to the US!) and it really hit home when I realized that the basically the home screen was little more than an Amazon storefront. Had a play with a Nexus 7 next and that looked much more like what I wanted all along!

        N.b. I have a Kindle 3 and that's great for ebooks. For now I don't mind that being tied to Amazon as its only books that I'm going to download onto that.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lol. I thought I had the only copy of Andy Remic's War Machine.

    The Spiral series is much better*. It still reads like the warped fantasies of a barely literate fourteen year old boy who's just watched all the Bond films back to back, but it's really hard to put down....

    * for small values of "better".

    1. Jim 48
      Facepalm

      Not read War Machine but have endured BioHell & Kell's Legend (all three books). I kept promising I'd not continue every time they'd get to the end of a chapter with some seemingly impossible-to-get-out-of-life-or-death-situation but they kept dragging me back in.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chrome for Android

    In your review, you said it runs 4.0.3 - as far as im aware, Chrome for Android only runs on 4.1 (Jellybean). The screenshot is actually telling you that you have other Android devices running Jellybean not that its compatible....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chrome for Android

      Chrome runs on ICS and above

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chrome for Android

        And so of course does the new Firefox, much better than earlier efforts. And with Real Adblocker add ons, which Google may be reluctant to encourage.

  20. Peter Lee
    FAIL

    Think the reviewer has missed the point a little

    The Kindle Fire (and Kindle Fire HD) isn't a "normal" Android tablet. This is a tablet which runs Android but a modified version, reskinned, and linked to Amazon rather than Google. You don't switch it on and log in to a Google account because it isn't a Google tablet - it is an Amazon tablet, which is why you sign in to an Amazon account. You also don't get apps from the Google Play store, instead you get them from the Amazon app store. For some people - the reviewer included - this is maddeningly restrictive, but for others it is just fine. Some people want a Kindle that is backlit, does colour, plays music, can surf the internet more quickly than an e-ink Kindle, and nothing more, and for these people this is a suitable device, but if you don't want the restrictions of being tied to Amazon then there are plenty of other tablets available, both running Android and other operating systems.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Think the reviewer has missed the point a little

      Chocolate Teapot. If all your expectation is for a colour kindle then fine - but why when you may as well buy a Nexus 7 or iPad Mini and install the Kindle app and with either get a LOT more besides.

      1. Peter Lee

        Re: Think the reviewer has missed the point a little

        Yes but some people don't *want* "a lot more" - some people just want colour and backlighting and ease of use, and don't want more technical stuff.

        Personally I bought a Kindle a few years ago so I could read novels while I'm on the road (my job has me travelling a lot) and I've no interest in backlighting - if I want to read in the dark I put the light on, just as I did with paperbacks for my whole life, so it's really no hassle - and the novels I read tend to be black text on a white background, so colour didn't appeal, and I'm perfectly happy with my Kindle. I recently bought a Nexus 7 for all the other stuff I may want to do (web browsing, multimedia, games, some work stuff, general messing about) and it works perfectly, but I've no desire to read ebooks on it because that's what my Kindle is for, and I'm more than happy with this arrangement.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Think the reviewer has missed the point a little

          "and the novels I read tend to be black text on a white background"

          Move with the times - bet you would have said that of your b/w telly as well. Plenty of books I have include colour illustrations and are ruined by a b/w screen and if I read in bed while the wife is sleeping a backlight is a lifesaver (literally). Plus being able to change to b/w or w/b or sepia or various other colours for the paper / text is a nice feature.

          Colour for kids is a bonus and seems to keep their attention better.

          1. Peter Lee

            Re: Think the reviewer has missed the point a little

            No need to be so facetious.

            I've never read a novel with colour illustrations, just text, which is black on a white background. If I want a book that includes things in colour - a cookbook for example - I buy the actual book.

            Reading in bed with "the wife" sleeping: Never had a problem. I'm always up later than mine, and I'll be sitting with the light on for a while after she's drifted off. YMMV.

            Changing to b/w, w/b, sepia? Never had the desire to do that. YMMV.

            Colour for kids. Maybe, but I don't have kids. YMMV.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Think the reviewer has missed the point a little

              So now you have an ebook reader for black and white books only and buy physical books if you want colour - well that makes sense. YMMV - it does - my wife has rice paper eyelids.

              Just because you have never had the desire to do something does not mean it's not worthwhile - guess you could say you just like cornflakes for breakfast and never try anything else.

              1. Peter Lee

                Re: Think the reviewer has missed the point a little

                I'm not saying my experiences are "the way" - just that it works for me, hence the YMMV. Do I carry two devices with me everywhere I go? No - at the moment I'm in work and they're both at home, but when I'm on the road next week I'll take both, and when I want to read a book I'll use the Kindle, and when I want to do something else I'll use the Nexus. It works for me - it may not work for you. The end.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Think the reviewer has missed the point a little

          Can't see how you can claim that - a Nexus 7 or iPad Mini takes seconds to install the Kindle app and that's it if all you want is a colour Kindle. I certainly would not want to have to carry 2 devices just to do what I want - totally defeats the point unless they are used independently by different people. You want one device that does the lot and seems that's an iPad Mini or Nexus 7 at this size / approximate price point. Two devices is more hassle, more bulk (if you need them both) and what happens when you take the wrong one... ;(

        3. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Re: Think the reviewer has missed the point a little

          > some people just want colour and backlighting and ease of use, and don't want more technical stuff.

          Pretending that a wider selection of apps and services is "more technical" won't magically make it so.

          Taking a regular tablet and making it an Amazon walled garden just doesn't make much sense. There is no real advantage. There is no extra "ease of use". It's just a crippled Android.

          It's not like buying an Amazon-centric device with an alternate display tech like the e-ink Kindles.

        4. Dana W

          Re: Think the reviewer has missed the point a little

          This isn't about the e-ink Kindle, I own a Kindle 3 as well. It rides in the same purse pocket with the Nexus 7. Its about the fact that the Kindle Fire series, is a bad reader AND a bad tablet.

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Think the reviewer has missed the point a little

      Peter, you have summarised my review in one paragraph.

  21. groovyf

    Thumbs-up for Steve Hillage in your music collection.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      what's that light in the sky?

  22. Captain Underpants
    Thumb Down

    Wow, Mr Dabbs, that was a desperately poor review.

    Firstly, you present "can be used one-handed" as some sort of must-have criteria (which, let's be fair, is likely true only of the most compulsive onanist).

    Secondly, you use the imaginary experience of your mum unboxing the device as a negative, then ignore the likely content preferences of your mum and the demographic in which she sits to moan about how Lovefilm has focused on getting recent, hugely popular period dramas (watched by millions including, in all probability, your mum) instead of getting old content from between 10 and 25 years ago.

    Lastly, but worst of all, you whinge about the limitations of the device (fair enough) and demonstrate no interest whatsoever in exploring whether they can be circumvented - I don't expect " Can I use this as a drop-in replacement for my iPad if I glue a shiny fruit sticker on the back?" to be the core question asked by someone writing for The Register, and your utter failure to even ask whether you can sideload applications and/or content suggests that you've either ignored or fundamentally misunderstood the difference between an Android Tablet and an Android-based Kindle/Amazon tablet.

    I enjoy your Something For The Weekend pieces, but this really was a shocking drop in form.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "exploring whether they can be circumvented"

      Is it easy = NO - well it's not going to get done. This is aimed at a mainstream not techie audience. Fail to see the point is buying this over a Nexus 7 (or iPad) that can do the same and more. Guess this is what happens when you make nothing on the hardware. It's like buying a car that only takes one type of fuel. I like Netflix instead of Lovefilm as I feel their selection is better but that would be a no no. Makes Apple look open.

    2. Lamont Cranston

      Wanting to read a book, one handed,

      makes someone a wanker? What if they just want to enjoy a cup of tea and/or biscuit, with their read?

      An e-reader shouldn't be less convenient than an actual book, should it?

      1. Martin
        Thumb Up

        Another typical use-case for one-handed operation...

        ...is standing on the tube. You need one hand to hold on, and the other hand to read your book. That's why I positively PREFER e-readers on the tube - turning a real book page one-handed (especially on a hardback) is not a simple operation.

      2. It'sa Mea... Mario

        Re: Wanting to read a book, one handed,

        Upvoted because you are right and I for the life of me I cannot understand why you have received a downvote.

    3. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Wow, Mr Dabbs, that was a desperately poor review.

      Thank you, Captain Underpants. Tra-la-laaaaa!

  23. Alan Watson

    Not actually cheaper

    You finish by saying that it's cheaper than the competition and offers twice the storage. Well if you define the competition as a 16GB iPad Mini that is correct. But if you take the obvious comparison - the Nexus 7 - it's the same price and has the same storage.

    The only reason I can see why this will sell is that the front-page promotion on Amazon will push it to people who've never heard of the Nexus.

  24. Silverburn

    Pic 2/3...

    ...ok, who else thought "Mills and Boon" when they saw the book the auth was reading...?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    60% thats's just mean ...

    I just bought a kindle HD fire and I really like it. The screen is nicer then the nexus 7 and it just felt/feels better when I held the kindle fire and it sounds better and actually pretty good. I personally don't think that this tablet deserves 60% it works very well at what it is designed to do. (portal to the amazon store just like apple is to itunes) I'm mainly using this for reading news,books some games for the kids and occasionally netflix, hulu+ or amazon prime movies when working in the kitchen. Oh and Need for Speed wanted is a fun game to sink time into on this tablet. Seriously though 60% that's just hateful almost kindle racist like or maybe you are a Romney fan..I don't know..

    I think the register should have another one of there folks weigh in on this and give another perspective.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 60% thats's just mean ...

      But why... why would you buy this when a Nexus 7 is the same cost and does everything it does and more. Or spend a bit more and get an iPad Mini which may have better longevity (if my ageing iPhone 3GS is anything to go by).

      1. zbmwzm3

        Re: 60% thats's just mean ...

        I don't even have a google anything account, but I have an amazon prime account. So that is another reason. I could of gone either way but after having time with both I sincerely like the kindle HD a bit more. Not that I would mind two at once but that's a different topic.

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: 60% thats's just mean ...

      >> Seriously though 60% that's just hateful almost kindle racist like or maybe you are a Romney fan..I don't know..

      I'm still trying to decide whether this comment is intentionally satirical or just odd.

      1. zbmwzm3

        Re: 60% thats's just mean ...

        Yeah trying to be funny but I should have probably laid off on the Romney comment..

  26. Glostermeteor

    The only thing that Amazon appears to have done right with the Fire is to force Asus to reduce the price of the Nexus 7. Why on earth would you buy one of these now that the Nexus 7 is exactly the same price with exactly the same storage capacity????

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Personally I'd pay the extra for an iPad but totally agree if I were looking to buy an Android it would not be the Fire with the Nexus around.

    2. Dana W

      And I can run the Kindle app for the few paid Kindle books I have, The only thing the new Kindle fire has over the Nexus 7 is better speakers. That' it. And its not enough to make it worth its linked down, Amazon only, no Google App store nature.

  27. PaulR79

    Apps out of date

    If I read it right then it seems Amazon have a separate, and longer process for updating apps. This leads to Play Store apps being updated faster than on Amazon and you run into the problem this reviewer did - it tells you that you're using an old version but it's the latest available through Amazon. Awful. I had briefly thought this might be ideal for my mother but this review has pointed out many issues I hadn't considered and saved me the wasted time and possibly money.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apps out of date

      ... and I thought it was a bit too early for TURKEY but no here it is. Guess Amazon hope to lure suckers in who see it plastered all over their home page and in searched for iPad Mini on their web site.

  28. Beefycraig

    I like mine

    I like mine, just hack it if you want access to other app stores and the flexibility. On another note, no one forces you to buy into a companies ecosystem, if it annoys you a lot don't bother with it. I think the Amazon ecosystem will be ok to be tied into, again its your choice to do so. Films look good on it and very easy to pump the picture across to a projector or flat screen. It is still better than giving my money to the cupertino twats.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I like mine

      Just hack it - really - maybe for you but are most people going to want to. I'd be pretty peeved if I bought a new [something] and then had to start mucking around to get it to do what I want. Sounds like iPad Mini or Nexus 7 for Christmas? Seriously if you want Android and the Nexus 7 is the same cost and more open why would you buy something you have to hack - what next they do an update and you have to re-hack it? Even if you hated Apple you would buy a Nexus.

      1. Captain Underpants
        Meh

        Re: I like mine

        @AC 15:28

        " I'd be pretty peeved if I bought a new [something] and then had to start mucking around to get it to do what I want."

        And who would get the blame for a total failure to do any research regarding the capacities and limitations of the device you just bought? It's not like they've pulled a total bait-and-switch here by marketing it as an unlocked android device and only announcing the lock-in as it shipped.

        If you want an android tablet, buy an android tablet.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I like mine

          Guess it's a case of caveat emptor - they tell you what it can do and not what it can't. So basically we now have iOS tablets, Android tablets and the Fire which runs some Android stuff (once they get around to adding it) but it's certainly not open (which you might expect of Android) and now Windows tablets. None are really open though are they - but seems Amazon is the most restrictive.

      2. Beefycraig

        Re: I like mine

        I would do what I have always done with android/linux, search google to see if someone else has successfully done it and then copy them. I won't buy something I can't hack, not that I have on this occasion. I like having the option for when I am a bit bored and want to do something.

        Why would I buy a Nexus, I have played with one and quite like it, there are other options for tablets available, I think I would have a look around and see what else is out there. Maybe find a cool machine from a small upcoming manufacturer for a change, rather than feeding the current tech giants.

  29. Mr Spigot

    For a tech writer you must have no clue if you were thrilled and excited about receiving this gizmo which clearly isn't and was never going to be an open tablet. Yes, it's tied to Amazon because they sell these things stupidly cheap to promote their online sales. Apple are similar, without the cheap bit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Apple's a lot more open to other services - i.e. you can do a lot more on an iPad Mini than a Kindle Fire HD without rootin' and tootin' it (which 99.9% of people could not do). Basically it is a big turkey both for techies (who would buy a Nexus 7 or other) or everyone else who buys iPads. It's as if you pick all the bad bits and do it anyway.

  30. Captain Underpants
    Thumb Down

    @AC

    I never said it would be easy, but being that this is a techie oriented news site and not some lowest-IQ-available tech-news-for-luddites site it would've been good to see it commented upon, even if the comments were "far too hard for the intended audience but possibly of interest if you want a cheap tablet for tinkering". Discussions about rooted/jailbroken kit are commonplace around here whenever tablets come up, I don't think it's excessive to ask that the authors bear this in mind.

    @Lamont:

    I never said it makes him a wanker, I said it's only a deal-breaker for the compusive onanist. Or are you going to tell me that you won't buy any book you can't hold in one hand while standing on a train/tram/bus/overground?

    It may be a design fail compared to other tablets but it's hardly the disaster Alistair suggests. Aside from anything else, I bet you a case that sorts out the grip issue will be available in short order. So it's hardly an unresolvable problem.

    (I dont have, or want, a Kindle Fire, but I do want a decent review that lets me understand its strengths and weaknesses. Alistair's "Wah, it's not an iPad and it's got all this Amazon lock-in stuff on it" approach tells me bugger-all of use when eg evaluating whether it might be of use to any of my family, hence my comment).

    1. Trygve

      A 7" tablet that needs two hands to use...

      Is, in my opinion, about as much use as a 10" tablet that needs two hands and a foot to use. It's so bloody inconvenient that you may as well not bother when there are better alternatives at the same price.

  31. HP Cynic

    Amazon own Lovefilm now right? So it's no even Amazon OR Lovefilm content you are pretty much feeding at 1 trough.

  32. xyz
    Unhappy

    I bought one for my GF...

    ...as she'd just totaled the 2nd kindle I'd bought her. I mean she carried a kindle everywhere which is why No1 got dropped in the bath and No2 got dropped on a hard floor when she fell asleep.

    So I gave her a Fire HD 32Gb with leather cover for bouncability. She played with it for about an hour and it's sat in a corner ever since. In a nutshell, she doesn't like it and it's not her friend. She used her kindles for relaxation. The batteries suited her "run 'til it melts" attitude to tech. It didn't have Skype or anything else that got in the way...she could just read a book whilst her blackberry and laptop sat downstairs. Now she's got all you can eat MEEJA and frankly she doesn't want it. I think I'll just get her a kindle again and play with the fire myself until the surface pro comes out

  33. oshiewan

    While not having another tablet to compare it to, I'm quite happy with my Kindle Fire HD.

    The reason for this is probably because I have rooted it, loaded google play store, and have broken free of the restrictions which the reviewer rightly had a downer on.

    From several peoples comments I guess I would probably want to compare it to the Nexus 7 but as I am unable to do so, I will continue loading all the apps I want onto my Kindle Fire HD.

    ps Yeah it's a lot heavier than the e-ink Kindle and this has caused me to drop it while reading in bed, so a case is a must!

  34. Robinson
    Thumb Down

    Hey

    I've bought one of these for my girlfriend for Christmas. She will use it for reading, browsing the web and a few other things (maybe Skype). She's unlikely to want to do anything other than that, ever. For the price it seems excellent value. I have an iPad (the £700 64GB) and I've got to say it was a complete waste of money when I think what I actually use it for compared to what I imagined I'd use it for when I bought it.

    It's no good reviewing something as if the target market was a tech-head or nerdy type who comes to El Reg, when it's about as far away from that as possible.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hey

      Your £700 iPad is no comparison - you may as well tell us you bought a £70k Porsche but only ever pop to the shops.

      The competitors for this are the Nexus 7 (for about the same price) or the iPad Mini for about £90-100 more. So you have to choose do you want iOS / better support / more apps or a cheaper, but more capable (than the Fire) Android tablet.

      It's fair to critisise something that needs to be rooted - we buy these or get asked about them from friends and family - you buy the iPad and it's easy, Nexus probably quite easy - the FIre and it's a whole world of pain unless they have sold their soul to Amazon and swear never to want anything else.

      1. Robinson

        Re: Hey

        I never needed to root a device in my life. Yes, if you need or want to do that, the Fire is almost certainly the wrong product. When it comes to reviewing the device for what it's designed to do and for the kind of people it's designed to be used by however, I think this review is more honest:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00tmliWHDZw

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hey

      Guess she can always send it back or may be too late by then.

  35. IR

    Okay, so this is a review of all the things you can't do with a Kindle, now can we have one that tells you all the things you can do?

    I've been lumbered with one for xmas (got an early heads-up) which I can't return (wanted the Nexus 7), so I was hoping this article would tell me the easiest options for sideloading and the risks of rooting since the rest of the web is pretty light on details (Looks like I am best off downloading an app onto my phone, then extracting the apk using airdroid, copying onto the Kindle and installing it using the file explorer - but that's just my best guess).

    Even better, I could be the awesome uncle who turns up on xmas and makes my neice's sucky tablet into something much more capable, but it looks like I'll have to wait until I get my own hands on it

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Surely not to late to send it back?

      1. IR

        It'll be beyond the return date by the time I get it.

        I'm not too bothered, I'm sure it will be fine for 95% of what I want , but I was hoping an article on a decent tech site would tell me the best way to achieve things I hadn't even thought about.

    2. zbmwzm3

      You should get coal for xmas with that attitude.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      if you want to spend your christmas faffing with a tablet that should have worked properly outta 'da box then that's not the sort of christmas I'm imagining.

    4. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Okay, so this is a review of all the things you can't do with a Kindle

      >> I was hoping this article would tell me the easiest options for sideloading and the risks of rooting

      It's an 800-word review, not a user manual.

  36. exexpat
    Thumb Up

    Review(er) is right. Its a POS.

  37. Bascule
    Thumb Down

    What an appalling review.

    Redolent of slavering apple/google fanboi-ism, disgracefuly poorly researched and utterly misleading.

    Lovefilm only? rubbish, simply install the apps for what you want, Netflix and iplayer were the ones I wanted and both work absolutely perfectly, as has EVERY other app I've needed. The matt finish on the rear is excellent for grip, nowhere near as slippy as some others like my iPad. The sound quality is spectacular, the screen is excellent, wifi performance is outstanding, and as for your fumbling incompetence in working out how to hold it (not difficult by any means, button and camera locations are kind of a giveaway) then maybe like most people you would put yours in a case which eliminates the (nonexistent) issue. I confess, I half expected to want to root it, but as it turns out it has proved completely competent without the need for any such shenanigans, and it has proved a worthwhile purchase. For me choice was this or the Nexus, but the reported screen delamination issues on the nexus tipped it to the Kindle, though they're clearly both excellent kit for the money. However, this review is neither credible or worthy of the register at all...

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: What an appalling review.

      Yup, the Netflix app is supported. Loved the "fumbling incompetence" line, by the way.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What an appalling review.

      True

      I've bought one for my mum for Xmas and have just set up an e-mail account on it for etc. Easy as pie, the e-mail client is very nice, better than the stock Android client certainly. As has been said, Netflix works a treat, ditto Skype and the excellent speakers make Skype calling without headphones a cinch.

      It's a bit weak when it comes to supporting other ebook formats / readers, but it's a Kindle so what the hell do you expect?

      While clearly not a Nexus 7 the easy interface, excellent battery life (I got 10 hours of video with the screen at max brightness) and quality screen / speakers make it a great media consumption / comms device which is pretty much what I wanted for the old dear. As for it being hard to work out which way to hold it, what utter tripe.

  38. David Haig

    Steve Hillage

    Wow, Steve Hillage .... Must dig out the old Gong / Planet Gong vinyl, there's no way it would have made it to digital ....

  39. anotherDave

    Kobo ARC

    How does the kobo arc compare to this thing (or with the Nexus 7)?

  40. Jolyon Smith
    Coat

    I have to say I think this review came at the device from the wrong angle...

    It reviewed the Kindle as an Android tablet that has close ties to the Amazon ecosystem.

    If viewed as an Amazon Kindle that has some Android'y extras but doesn't aim to be an Android tablet, then I think the conclusion would be somewhat different.

    Basical usability of the hardware aside (which I agree sounds like aesthetics have won out over function) It shouldn't be compared to other Android tablets and all the things you can do with them that you can't do with the Fire, but rather with the eInk Kindles and what you can do with the Fire that you can't do with those.

    See ?

    1. Jolyon Smith

      Re: I have to say I think this review came at the device from the wrong angle...

      w.r.t "Android'y extras", what I meant to suggest was think of it this way: eInk Kindles use Linux as their OS, but no review of a Kindle Touch complains about not being able to install and run Gnome or KDE or GIMP or Apache like on any other decent Linux system etc etc...

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: I have to say I think this review came at the device from the wrong angle...

        I would expect to be able to install Netflix and Angry Birds on any Android tablet.

        These are the relevant analogs to kdenlive or GIMP.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I have to say I think this review came at the device from the wrong angle...

          Well you'll be delighted to know you can install and use both direct from the Amazon App Store then, with no issue at all.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once again, a review of something marketed and sold only as an e-reader/amazon consumption device as though it should be a tablet. It's pretty excellent at the former, and not great at the latter. But it's not sold as the latter, is it?

    1. Badwolf

      according to Amazon, its the Worlds Most Advanced 7inch Tablet.......

  42. This post has been deleted by its author

  43. Badwolf

    Picked one up in Waterstone - It had a dead battery and staff had no idea what to do with it... has Waterstones become PC World?

    Very plastic to hold and I was very happy to give Apple my money for the iPad Mini instead

  44. handy

    Tablet caters for a different maket

    Whilst the walled garden is exactly what turns reg readers off this tablet, it is also their strongest selling point to the public. Restrict app's that dont work, ensure some kind of quality control and provide integration to those already in its ecosystem, in real terms are the main benefit of this device.

    As much as I hate the restrictions of apple devices (even more having to use itunes) for many technophobes (like my nan) giving them choice to is a bad idea. This tablet is aimed at those who want the "security" of being Amazon infrastructure, but dont want to pay an extra £100 on an Ipad.

    For the rest of us there are better options.

    Want a high quality device on budget get a Playbook for £100 at Currys - (Sideload apps just like Kindle)

    Want a powerful device with more access to apps get the Nexus for £170

    Want high quality device with high usability go for the ipad for £250

    It all depends on your needs and what you use your tablet for.

  45. Helldesk Dogsbody
    Thumb Up

    Just what I needed to know

    Thanks for that, it's exactly what I needed to know and with the appropriate warning too. I was contemplating getting one for my father but I'll stick with the basic Kindle as it's less likely to end up broken (as he's a former engineer it's never whether or not something gets hit with a hammer but where and how hard that's the question!)

  46. Dmmeys

    Fire HD v iPad mini

    Couldn't agree more with this article. I may be biased as I've used macs and have had an iPad since they first came out but I found the fire HD to be absolutely infuriating. I preordered it and duly received it on its release. It came already registered to me so all of my account details were there. I use iCloud normally but had to phone tech support to get my email to work. I lasted a couple of hours the evening I received it. Discovered it was frankly useless compared to my ipad1 despite its size so packed it up and returned it the next day. Also preordered an iPad mini which, despite being 3 times the price, is a dream to use. Perhaps I was never going to be the target market for the fire HD but if that is what android is about then I'll stay firmly locked into iOS. Bizarrely the experience reminded me of the very first pc I bought years ago. EVERYTHING had to be installed manually. I was expected to be a bit of an IT wizard. Whatever is said about apple at least you take their kit out of the box and email, photos, Internet etc are all their and reasonably intuitive. I had thought about buying one for the parents but there is no chance.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fire HD v iPad mini

      As several commentators have said, this is NOT what Android is about. It's an Amazon tablet that only uses Android as it's underlying OS. Sign into an Android tablet and all your mail, books, documents, photos (and from next week for us Brits, music) are there immediately. Sign into a Kindle and your Amazon stuff is there. Two wholly different things despite the common underpinning OS. The Kindle is more of a large connected-PMP than a fully fledged tablet.

      It will be interesting to see how well it sells - the first Kindle Fire didn't have the Nexus 7 to contend with.

      As for having to call Amazon to get your e-mail working, is that really true? I set up my mums Gmail and Yahoo accounts on an HD in a couple of minutes.

      In short the Kindle Fire HD really is not aimed at anyone who has used an iPad or a Google-approved Android tablet, rather it''s a media player for people who buy their books and music from Amazon and who want a large screen media player with a good screen, good speakers and decent battery life.

  47. Richard Lloyd

    Fire HD - decent hardware, but really needs to be rooted/ROM'ed...Amazon App Store is awful

    I'm sorry, but if you see a colour 7" tablet nowadays (and the Fire HD is exclusively marketed as a tablet by Amazon UK - the word "tablet" is mentioned 7 times in its product description and not once is the word "e-reader" used - so anyone claiming otherwise...as a few have here...is simply wrong), you expect to be able to run a load of apps on it.

    Sadly, this is where the Fire HD falls crippingly down - the Amazon App Store is nothing short of a disgusting experience if the Fire HD store experience is anything like the dreadful Amazon App Store app I've run on my Nexus 7. It's got horrible navigation, it's extremely slow to update any pages, on the Nexus 7 it has no soft menu button (bizarrely it does on my HP TouchPad) so I can't actually use the My Apps feature to list the bleeding apps I've installed (or have in the "Cloud") and I probably can't update them on the N7 because of that too.

    The App Store also infuriatingly sends me a "purchase" e-mail with every free download I do in the app store - no idea if that stupid e-mail can be disabled (I only need purchase e-mails for downloads that actually cost me money). And of course, don't forget that there's a fraction of the apps compared to the full Google Play store, which further darkens my mood about Amazon's App Store. I only keep the app on for the Free App of the Day stuff, only to find that a) most of them are awful and b) you can't run them without having the Amazon App Store app installed!

    So the solution is an obvious one - at the very least root your Fire HD and put the Google Apps on (including Google Play). Personally, I'd go one step further and install CyanogenMod 10 (gets you a better launcher, loads of config options and Jelly Bean smoothness). Without the Google Apps (and preferably CM10), the Fire HD is a total non-starter, IMHO. Heck, I even put CM10 on my N7, I like it that much.

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