Amazon Kindle Fire Review
We managed to snag ourselves a new Amazon Kindle Fire to see what all the fuss is about. Read our review to find out what can be expected from this cheap Tablet PC.
By Chris Messenger | Published 16/08/2012
Seriously cheap! Unbeatable price £129
Good build quality. Very sturdy
Prime membership adds library pass
Free Amazon cloud storage for users
Generic design for 7.0 tablet pc
No Bluetooth or rear camera
No 3G/4G option
No access to the Android marketplace
The Kindle Fire felt like a bit of a confusing hybrid when it was first released. The overall feel was of Amazon dipping their toes into the water of the tablet PC market. Emboldened by the fact that a solo e-reader was all but dead as a concept, the Kindle successor’s primary functions were rendered as one more app on a series of much more multi-faceted devices. However, this translated into phenomenal sales success and a lasting legacy.
At the time, I described the Kindle Fire’s user interface as
“Extremely limited. Imagine your iPod if you wanted to do more than play around with Apps and listen to bands; that one little button would become somewhat annoying, right? Well, the Kindle Fire, on a bad day, can be a bit like that”.
I also said that:
“The main thing on the Kindle Fire’s side is the fact that it is so cheap compared to some of the other Tablets out there and offers many of the same functions. A lot of these ‘missing’ functions are actually not so good on the cheaper models anyway and are so bad on some models, that there’s almost no point having them at all. We don’t think you’d miss them that much and, if you did, the Kindle Fire would still be a great value gadget”.
That was then. But what about now?
With an 8GB hard drive and a respectable screen, the Kindle Fire was still very much cut from the same cloth as its eReader ancestors. It also employed a 1GHz processor to reasonable effect. Specs-wise, the original Kindle Fire wasn’t top of the pile when it was released, but it wasn’t a let down either.
It ran Android 2.3, which was pretty good at the time, but failed to provide anything even approaching 3G or Bluetooth.
On the plus side, it was well made, generally reliable and made use of a very nice screen.
The Kindle Fire was a reasonably priced tablet upon its release and its even cheaper now. Still, at £129, when the newly released Kindle Fire HD is only £159, it is starting to feel a little overpriced. A price drop would be a sensible move on Amazon’s part.
Aside from the bespoke user interface problems, the Kindle Fire generally ran well. The Internet could be a bit hit and miss, but was far better than a lot of others in its particular price range at the time.
The Kindle Fire was portable and reasonably lightweight (though not the lightest tablet out there) and had an outer casing that felt sturdy and well crafted. Apart from that, there was no individual function (besides the eReader) that blew anyone away.
Still, despite any minor headaches, the Kindle Fire was a respectable first stab at creating a tablet PC. It was a well thought out and reliable tablet, with a smart design and a sense of style that set it apart from its peers, even if not much else did.
What Other Users Say
The reaction to the Kindle Fire was generally positive, with the device garnering fair/good reviews from most of the major online sources. But although critical success was enthusiastic if not ecstatic, the buying public voted in droves. With their wallets.
During the fourth quarter of 2011, Amazon had sold 4.7 million units and it was, by the first quarter of 2012, the second-biggest selling tablet after the iPad. A winning combination of reliability, an excellent screen, a cool price and a funky, up to date operating system (together with the brand recognition for the previous models) catapulted the Fire to the top of the sales charts and, as of November 2012, are keeping it there.
Today, the original Kindle Fire is still a decent investment. It might not set your world alight (groan!) when sat next to the iPad 4, but it will certainly do its job and then some.
Of course, with the Kindle Fire HD currently making waves in the industry and the latest batch of tablets becoming ever more advanced, the Fire’s days are definitely numbered. However, if you’re looking for a short-term tablet that will do a decent job and won’t break the bank, then you’re looking in the right direction.
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