Android tablet buyer's guide: Kindle Fire
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.
• 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