|The "Kindle Fire HD" (KFHD) designation includes:|
A 7" WiFi tablet - 16GB and 32GB versions - 1280x800 resolution - $199 for 16GB
An 8.9" WiFi tablet - 16GB and 32GB versions - 1920x1200 resolution - $269 for 16GB
An 8.9" WiFi tablet w/ 4G LTE - 32GB & 64GB versions - 1920x1200 - $399 for 32GB
The many reviews below, of the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, have interesting details about features of interest to consumers, rather than only quick-loading of web pages that note that one tablet took a second or two longer than another, and wasn't as good as a $500+ iPad. Bezos had mentioned that the difference in WiFi time would show up in high-definition streams of video and other multimedia material that often give viewers problems when watching movies via WiFi.
CNet's Josh Miller
"Streaming-video performance was where the Fire HD's new networking hardware earned its keep. I started streaming an HD episode of "Breaking Bad" on both the Nexus 7 and Fire HD and while neither had any trouble reproducing a crystal-clear 720p image when within close proximity of my test router, things changed as I left the lab and walked several feet away.
" At about 20 feet away (and between two or three walls), the Nexus 7 lost the streaming signal and never picked it up again, delivering only a spinning circle for several minutes. The Fire HD, on the other hand, never stopped streaming and kept the episode's HD resolution even as I left the test router's range and the tablet seamlessly switched to CNET's building-wide network.
"The 7-inch version of the Kindle Fire HD features an in-plane switching (IPS) screen, running at a 1,280x800-pixel resolution. Colors pop from the display and have a really vibrant, high-contrast look. Everything just looks a bit sharper and cleaner here compared with the Nexus 7's still-great screen, and when viewed from extremely wide angles, the Fire HD's screen better retains its brightness, color integrity, and contrast ratio. Pinch-to-zoom requests were delivered quickly, and the Fire HD responded just as fast to them as the Nexus 7 did."
[My note: Miller finds the Nexus better for games performance for various reasons and writes that there are 'very few compelling games' for the Fire HD ready yet "if you're not willing to go through the trouble of sideloading" install-files (the way I did for the Google Maps app, but it's actually easy to do)."While watching movies, playing games, or listening to music, I found the Fire HD's speakers deliver clear, loud (if you need it to be) sound that's noticeably better than what I've heard from other tablets.
However, sometimes games are a bit more hardware specific or might do better on pure Android systems until a version is made for the Kindle Fire HD's customised Android operating system. Miller is careful to point out that the current iPad is 2.5 times the price of the $199 Kindle Fire HD.]
"The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD serve different purposes and the advantages of one do not diminish the value of the other. They can coexist and still prosper..." Full article here
Gizmodo's Kyle Wagner - "Everything a Tablet Should Be -- And Not Much More
[ Wagner wishes it were a "hardcore multi-tasking workhorse."
"You won't use this as the device to power you through a day full of events and email and documents."
But when he lists the pluses they are stated pretty strongly.]
"Basically, the Fire HD is wonderful to hold and touch and look at and listen to. It's exactly what you'd want any tablet to be. But that doesn't mean it's perfect.
"Reading and watching and listening on the Fire HD is sublime. Once you're in, you're in...
"The screen in particular is wonderful, and holding the 7-inch tablet in portrait is actually comfortable (unlike the first Fire or the Nexus...
"...The onboard sound is really good...it makes quite a big difference in using a tablet to watch a movie. There's no comparison to any other popular tablet, and it's even louder than most laptops we've tested it next to...
"...As a value proposition, it's hard to argue with top notch hardware at a total cut-rate price. You could spend the same on a Nexus 7, but you'll have to trade the Fire HD's screen, speakers, and extra storage for a more robust UI and the full Android app ecosystem.
"...The Skype app is as good as any Skype client you'll use, and the front-facing comes across crisp on the other end. It also handles the crappy lighting video chats typically have pretty well.
"...The Wi-Fi really is better than competitors; MIMO is no joke. The Fire HD was on average more than twice as fast as the Nexus 7 and the original Fire.
"...Momentum scrolling is still choppy at times, and touch areas for smaller stuff, like "See All", can be frustratingly small and hard to activate.
"...Amazon's Silk Browser, which is built on Chromium this year, instead of the base web client, generally outperformed the Nexus 7 in HTML5 benchmarks, and was vastly more consistent than either. Its real world performance isn't nearly as full-featured as mobile Chrome or even Safari, though.
"...it's a very well-made tablet, with an outstanding ecosystem behind it and enough perks to make it very appealing for the price..." Full article here.
The Verge's Joshua Topolsky
"The 7-inch, 1280 x 800 display on the Fire HD is fantastic. The IPS, LCD screen looks better than probably any other tablet display I've seen, save for the new iPad. While the pixel density is the same for both the Nexus 7 and the Fire HD (216 compared to the iPad's 264), the Fire blows away the Nexus in terms of color richness, black levels, and general brightness. It definitely looks more like an Apple-quality display..." Much more at the full article.
Wired's Roberto Baldwin - "...Second Time's a charm"
"The new features Amazon has added to the e-book reading experience are also top-notch. Initially, I thought the Immersion Reading feature — a sort of “read along with me” trick that highlights text while the audio version of a book is read aloud — was just a cute gimmick I would tire of quickly. But after reading along to the text of “Bossypants” as Tina Fey spoke the same words to me through the speakers, I’m a believer. It’s mesmerizing.
"...All the herky-jerkiness of the original Fire’s UI has been exterminated."
[But he does list where it's not always as smooth as he'd like.]
"X-Ray — the feature that brings up an index-like listing of information for whatever you’re reading or watching — is outstanding, and especially helpful for novels with a plethora of characters. The new integration of IMDB data into the X-Ray for Video feature is also excellent
"Speaking of sound, the audio pumped out by the Kindle Fire HD sounded better than other tablets. The Dolby-tuned stereo speakers actually produce a clear stereo image..." [More at the long, full review.]
USA Today's Edward C. Baig -"Kindle Fire HD gives Nexus 7 stiff competition"
"The processor is more robust, leading to a faster and more fluid experience. I did have one crash — and discovered a bug that messed up audio. On some songs, I couldn't hear any sound at all; on others, the volume inexplicably rose by itself. Amazon says a fix is coming in an upcoming software release.
"The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD that I reviewed weighs 13.9 ounces, making it a little heavier and roughly an inch wider than the 12-ounce Nexus 7. That makes a difference if you're trying to stash the tablet in your inside coat pocket. Advantage: Google.
[My note: For photos, it's a better size, showing the full photo.]
"...The Nexus 7 has GPS. The 7-inch Fire HD has location-based technologies built around Wi-Fi hot spots. (GPS is coming to the 8.9-inch 4G models, Amazon says.) Adding GPS improves accuracy.
"...Kindle Fire HD includes an HDMI port for connecting the tablet to a large high-definition display that the Nexus 7 lacks. Kindle Fire HD also has integrated stereo speakers with Dolby technology. Movies and music come alive with the bolstered sound, even when you don't don headphones. And Amazon promises more robust Wi-Fi connectivity.
"...Where Amazon especially shines is in some of the latest features that bolster content. I'm especially keen on X-ray for Movies, a boon for cinema fans. If you ever have watched a movie and wondered the name of an actor, you'll appreciate this neat feature...The beauty is you don't actually have to leave the movie to open a separate app.
"...You can view and download photos on the device that are stored in Amazon's cloud.
"...I got just about 5½ hours in my own harsh battery test in which I kept the display on at all times with the brightness cranked up, kept Wi-Fi going and had a movie playing. I suspect you'll come much closer to the 11 hours or so that Amazon is claiming under more normal conditions." Full article here.
Engadget's Tim Stevens
"It's the Kindle Fire HD and it quite handily addresses nearly every concern that we had with the original Fire...
... MIMO connectivity. That's multiple-input multiple-output if you're not hep with the lingo, basically meaning the tablet can both send and receive data simultaneously over its pair of antennas.
"In theory, if you're sending and receiving a lot of data this means you'll receive better overall throughput. The dual antennas will also mean higher overall signal strength, and compared to a few other Android devices we had kicking about (a Nexus 7 and a Motorola Droid RAZR M), the Kindle Fire HD was easily the best of the bunch.
We loaded up the Wifi Analyzer app on all three and the Kindle consistently had a 10 to 15dBm stronger signal, and was able to keep that signal farther away from the router than either of the other two.
"...[It]...can finally do all that HD content in the Amazon store justice. That said, with that HDMI output you also can push that content digitally to whatever other display you want.
"...sound is distinctly on the tinny side, as one might expect given the size, but they are respectably loud and, frankly, it's a refreshing change to have two of the things.
Here they're well-positioned so that you get maximum stereo separation when watching a movie or playing a game and we found that they work well even when covered by your hands. That, too, isn't something that can be said for the sound ports on other slabs.
[My note: Both the Nexus and iPad have only one speaker.]
"Web pages load quickly...The Chrome browser on the Nexus 7 rendered every page we threw at it faster than the Fire HD, all without relying on any fancy off-site rendering techniques...
[ My note: I turn OFF KFire's "web acceleration" mode and it's faster that way.]
"...you can listen on any supported device and have your current position follow you wherever you are. We tried this with the recently updated Android app and it worked perfectly, dropping us into the book right where the Audible recording left off.
[ Vs the Google Nexus 7 ] "For the same money the Fire HD gives you twice the storage, proper stereo speakers, HDMI output and better WiFi performance. Plus, there's an amazing wealth of premium content always at your fingertips"
[AB Note: But while the Nexus and Kindle Fire HD are close in Engadget's overall comparison, Stevens prefer the huge Google apps store, Gmail, Google Maps and the feeling of "raw, uncompromised Jelly Bean [OS]."Full Engadget Article with even more detail here.
However, Amazon (unlike Barnes and Noble) allows its tablet owners to install apps from "unknown sources" and there are a few more or less trusted sites like 1Mobile.com, Getjar.com, and Slideme.org that carry the major files from GooglePlay.
I was able to get Google Maps from the Getjar app by just downloading it via the web browser, and then it installed. After the Install, it seemed to give me a revolving circle, I closed the Getjar app, opened up the Google Maps app and was able to get around just fine, including in Satellite maps mode (Google uses Location Services when the hardware doesn't include GPS). [End of Note]
Digital Trends's Rob Enderle -
"...while both the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD are good products, the Kindle Fire is more Apple-like in its focus on the user experience. That makes it, in my opinion, the better product. It may not have all of the sensors that the Nexus does, but chances are you won’t use them anyway if you already own a smartphone. Amazon focused on things like a more expensive case and better screen instead. As a result, the Kindle Fire HD diverges sharply from the Nexus 7, is easier to use, and does core things better. But it doesn’t do as many things, so the two products likely appeal to different audiences." Full article here.
ABC15's Kirk Yuhnke, Phoenix.
"...The smaller form tablet makes for a great Skype experience and the caller on the other end said my video looked good.
"...Simplicity is key here...in my testing, the entire OS felt fluid and complete. Love their interface or not, they have put together a nice package that makes consuming multimedia very, very simple.
"...included Kindle FreeTime app. It essentially allows parents to lock down the tablet before handing it over to their kids. It limits what apps, movies, videos and books each of your kids can access. On top of that, you can set time limits for certain categories. For example, you can limit games to 30 minutes a day while setting books to unlimited.
"...It’s built well and is a multimedia monster...designed for people who don’t want to notice the operating system while on their way to enjoying a movie, reading a book or playing a game." Full article here.
And with regard to display quality in tests reported by DisplayMate:
Displaymate reported a "7 inch Tablet Display Technology Shoot-Out" between the 7" models of the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus.
"While the Nexus 7 has a very nice saturated Red that is close to the new iPad Red, its Greens and Yellows are less saturated than even the iPad 2, which is a significant step backward. On the other hand, the Kindle Fire HD has Greens and Yellows that are slightly more saturated than the new iPad.
"These were easy to see during the Viewing Tests. Just as important as the Color Gamut is the Factory Display Calibration, which can ruin a excellent display if done improperly…
"... the Factory Display Calibration on the Nexus 7 was severely botched, which significantly degrades its picture quality. In spite of its good Color Gamut, colors and contrast are washed out due to a compressed, convex, and irregular Intensity Scale (sometimes called the Gray Scale). Bright images look like over exposed photographs...it is a software or firmware problem rather than an inherent hardware display issue. Depending on the display firmware this may or may not be correctable with a software update."
[On another display issue] "... We borrowed and tested a second Nexus 7 unit and found identical behavior – so the effect is unlikely to be due to a defective unit. In fact, we discovered it to be another software bug.
"The Kindle Fire HD has the highest measured Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light of any Tablet that we have tested in our entire Shoot-Out series, and the Nexus 7 is a close second. Both are much better than either the iPad 2 or the new iPad. The display on the Kindle Fire was the decisive winner of these two leading 7 inch Tablets. It is much better than the iPad 2 and almost as good as the new iPad [iPad 4] in overall picture quality and color accuracy...
...Like the new iPad, the Kindle Fire HD has better picture quality and color accuracy than most HDTVs, laptops, and monitors, so it could wind up being your most accurate display for viewing photos, videos and web content.
"Mobile displays are often viewed under reasonably high Ambient Lighting. The Kindle Fire HD has the highest measured Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light of any Tablet that we have tested in our Shoot-Out series, which is impressive."
Re "reflectance" or glare in high ambient lighting situations, they write:
"Most displays are now coming with lower Reflectance screens. The Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7 managed to accomplish this, even at their low price points, but the iPad mini comes with an unusually high Reflectance – it reflects 53 percent more ambient light than the Nexus 7 and 41 percent more than the Kindle Fire HD. This is another poor choice [by Apple for its iPad mini] and another significant competitive shortfall…" '
Links to other reviews and reports that give detailed information
. Larry Magid for Huffington Post
. Seattle Times's Brier Dudley with some very interesting info.
. TechCrunch's event coverage with good instant write-ups of Kindle Fire HD tablets.
Some other basic points
The KFire HD is really for media consumers and not so much Android techies. The Google Nexus at $199 which last year had only 8GB storage (for an HD world) but matched the Kindle Fire HD in storage space after that, has a GPS chip, which the Kindle Fire HD doesn't. It has a faster processor and is better (faster and smoother) for someone who mainly plays games on it.
The Nexus has one speaker location instead of KFireHD's two Dolby-Plus speakers (one for each side of the tablet when watching video), and no built-in HDMI port out to HDTV while KFireHD does,
It all depends on what you want in a tablet
The Nexus is best for the full-Android-inclined who want to customize their own user interface and are willing (usually eager) to put in the time to do that. The Google Nexus of course gets all the apps at Google's store, currently about 700,000.
Kindle Fire owners can get apps not found at the Amazon store by visiting several app-stores that carry Google apps (most that we want are free, if they're free at Google) and I note those online app stores in How to install non-Amazon apps
The availability of 14,000+ free Instant Videos (movies and TV show episodes) plus one free Prime-eligible Kindle book borrowable each calendar month are features for Amazon's Prime feature members who pay $79/yr ($6.58/mo.) for unlimited free 2-day shipping. All new Kindle Fire models have a free 30-day membership to Prime so customers can see whether it's worth it for them or not.
Amazon's Instant Video streams have a unique feature. If you're curious about what actor is in the scene you're watching, you can pause the stream and, if it's an Amazon-"X-Ray'd" video (as with Kindle books), that'll show you names and bios of the actors in that scene + some added film info if wanted. This is possible because Amazon owns IMDB.com and were able to use that database and sync that
For multimedia entertainment without dependence on external stereo spkrs, headphones, etc., the Kindle Fire HD is definitely very nice. Gorgeous picture. Loud (for a tablet), clear speakers with good spatial effect. It's generally agreed that the Kindle Fire HD tablets have the best built-in stereo speakers, important if you don't want to need to be attached to external speakers or headphones.
And you can easily directly connect it to an HDTV set with a cable like the one recommended in this blog entry about the built-in HDMI to HDTV feature.
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