When Amazon announced the new Kindle Fire HD, it took a firm step into its transformation into a major player in the consumer electronics space. Jeff Bezos sold the fact that Amazon was in the unique position that allowed it to create a device that was about more than just the gadget itself--Kindle Fire is all about the services that are tied to it, and the Fire HD in particular is the cream of Amazon's tablet crop. Then the price was announced, and at $199 heads turned and ears perked. A high quality tablet that is completely tied in to Amazon's ecosystem with a great display, rock solid Wi-Fi, and stereo speakers for $199? Is it too good to be true, or is the Kindle Fire HD the king of the 7-inch tablet roost? Read on for our full Kindle Fire HD (7-inch) review.
The Amazon Kindle Fire is the first small tablet that average users can pick up and immediately use, with a simple, clear interface. Then there's the price: Android along with amazing specs for just $199. It's open enough to attract geeks, too. While the user interface occasionally gets sluggish, we're willing to have a bit of patience to get a first-rate tablet for half of what most competitors charge, thus the Kindle Fire is our first Editors' Choice for small tablets.
A solid little brick at 7.5 by 4.7 by .45 inches and 14.6 ounces, the Kindle Fire looks and feels a lot like the BlackBerry PlayBook, but the Fire is smaller in all dimensions. There are no slots or tabs; both the memory and battery are sealed in, and the only interruptions in its smooth, black form are the headphone jack, Power button, MicroUSB jack, and dual stereo speakers. There's no camera, but I've never been sold on the value of tablet cameras anyway. It uses 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi networks to get online; there's no cellular radio or Bluetooth connectivity.
Turn the Fire on and the 7-inch 1024-by-600 IPS LCD screen lights up. This display is very sharp and clear, but it's also rather reflective. Just like on the Apple iPad 2, you may have trouble reading in bright light because of the screen's sometimes mirror-like gloss. While this is par for the course with tablets, I expected more given the Kindle name. This isn't a dedicated e-reader by any means.