Android tablet buyer's guide: Kindle Fire

Reviews James Hunt Jun 10, 2013

Good if you want easy access to lots of entertainment

Amazon's Kindle-branded Fire was one of the first 7" devices to gain any traction in a market that was, at the time, heavily tilted towards 10" tablets. Its successor, the Kindle Fire HD, is the third and final of the 'big three' 7" tablets - substantially more refined than the shot-in-the-dark Kindle Fire. Add to that a recent price drop, which has knocked £20 off the 32GB version to make it significantly cheaper than a similarly priced Nexus 7, and it's an attractive purchase - but don't be fooled into thinking it's top of the heap just yet…

First, we have to make the standard disclaimer that the Kindle Fire HD has a 7" colour touch-screen, which is not an E-Ink screen like the standard Kindle. As well as either 16GB or 32GB of SSD storage and 1GB of RAM, there's a fairly decent CPU in there – one based on the ARM Cortex-A9 (similar to the Tegra 3) but with dual rather than quad cores. The screen resolution of 1280x800 is as good as a Nexus 7, and its dual-band wi-fi makes it faster (in theory) than most devices – although it's worth pointing out that this isn't necessarily very useful on a tablet, unless you're streaming HD media from it. There's no 3G version, although you do get micro-USB support.

The Kindle Fire's operating system is a modified version of Ice Cream Sandwich (Android version 4.0), which allows it to access both Amazon’s Appstore and the Android Market, as well as all other third-party Android stores. It doesn't offer a particularly good Android experience, but the close integration with Amazon's media libraries (films, books and TV) make it a great device for those looking for on-the-move entertainment rather than productivity. Amazon Prime subscribers get extra perks too, which makes it a good choice if you're already committed to that subscription.

In many ways, the only problem with the Kindle Fire is its unashamedly low-end specs, but then it was never trying to win on tech alone. If you want a 32GB tablet, this is probably the best-priced one, and that feeds into the device's position as a strong entertainment contender. It's not the best tablet, nor the cheapest, but it is good value and at least trending towards the Nexus 7, if not beating it just yet.

Details:

• Screen size: 7"
• Internet: wi-fi only (dual band)
• Price: 16 GB (£159) / 32 GB (£179)
• OS: Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
• UK release date: September 2012

Scores:

Quality: 7/10
Value: 9/10
Overall: 8/10