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Amazon Kindle Fire HD: What makes it rock

August 12, 2013 10:19 IST

Amazon Kindle Fire HD: What makes it rock

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Abhik Sen

One of the side effects of being a tech enthusiast is constantly being called upon to provide buying advice.

And we’re regularly asked to recommend which tablet to buy.

Even then, I didn’t have a ready answer when a friend enquired about the Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

Of course, all of us have heard of the Kindle (in fact, a former roomie bought it as soon as it was launched in the country) and have fallen for its charms as an eBook reader.

But, I hadn’t got my hands dirty with the Fire HD yet.

If you already have an Amazon account (as I did, thanks to using the said roomie’s Kindle), you’re in luck.

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Image: Jeff Bezos with Kindle.
Photographs: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

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The Kindle HD comes from Amazon pre-registered; so, you have access to all the books you’d bought/downloaded earlier the moment you turn it on.

Both the seven-inch Fire HD and its big brother, the Fire HD 8.9-inch, have a thick bezel running around the HD screen on the front with an HD camera on top for voice chat.

On the right are the volume rocker and power/sleep buttons, which are flush with the edge.

If you like reading at night, you’ll be left hunting for the power button when you turn in for the night.

On the right also features the headphone jack. 

The microphone is placed on the top edge (in the Fire HD 8.9-inch, its placed on the bottom edge), while the microUSB and microHDMI ports are placed on the bottom edge.

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Photographs: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

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Both the devices have a rubberised back with a black band about three-quarters from the top.

Hidden behind this band on the left and right are the speakers, which will make you sit up with their loudness.

On turning on the device, you’re met with the carousel interface of the Fire HD, built on Android 4.0.

Books, music, videos, apps -- all are available as full-screen icons one can browse through.

Recently used stuff is on the top of the list.

While this interface is simple to use with a limited number of items on the list, it becomes cumbersome once you have a thickly populated list.

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For newbies and the elderly, the interface is a godsend.

Unlike other Android tabs, the Fire HD doesn’t give one access to the Google Play Store. Instead, one has access to the Android Appstore, where Amazon has a selection of apps from the Play Store, which it has certified.

While this prevents us from being lost in the maze that is the Android app store, technically advanced users will consider this a drawback.

Because, for every popular app/game present on the Amazon Appstore, there are possibly a score of them that are missing.

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Image: Kindle Fire HD 8.9 and Kindle Fire HD 7.


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And there’s absolutely no map apps available, so you can kiss all plans of using the Fire HD as a GPS device goodbye.

However, one can side-load one’s favourite apps -- that is, download the APK file directly from the website and install it on the device.

But that's no alternative to the app store.

While users in other parts of the world can download movies and music from the Amazon store, we in India have access to ebooks, apps, games and magazines.

Loading one’s own music and videos is as simple as connecting the supplied USB cable to the PC (one needs to download a utility called Android File Transfer on Mac).

Amazon bundles in the Silk browser, which is as fast as the internet connection one is on, though pages load in a jiffy.

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Both devices support dual-band Wi-Fi, and signals from the router were picked up easily, with no drop in signal.

Games such as Temple Run 2 were fun to play on both versions, while the Fire HD 8.9”, with its bigger screen real estate, is a pleasure to watch movies on.

Screens of both the devices displayed text as well as video quite well, even in direct sunlight.

Amazon devices also have an email client with all popular email services covered, but if one is reading a book or watching a movie, one doesn’t get a notification on screen and can miss it.

Thus, this isn't the ideal device if you're checking email every 10 minutes.

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Image: Kindle Fire HD 7-inch tablet.

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The singular advantage of using a Kindle is the vast library of eBooks one can carry (and all Amazon items are saved on the cloud).

Both Amazon devices will last through the day with a movie, some music and lots of reading.

A pity, only the USB cable (not even a wall adapter) is bundled with it.

Among the two Amazon devices, the seven-inch one is perfect to carry on the road to read books, play games, watch movies, listen to music or for video chats and browsing while the 8.9-inch version is best to watch movies in bed.

The Fire HD tabs are meant to and built for consuming media, and if one is looking for a tab for just that this is the one.

So, did my friend buy the Kindle Fire HD?

Yes, he did -- the Fire HD 8.9-inch for his parents (their first tab) and the seven-incher for himself.

He carries his iPad and the Kindle with him these days.

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Image: Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch tablet.


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AMAZON KINDLE FIRE HD/ HD 8.9 inch

Price: Rs 15,999/Rs 21,999

Screen: 7-inch 1,280x800/ 8.9-inch 1,280x800

Weight: 395g/567g

OS: Android 4.0

RAM: 1GB

Processor: 1.2GHz dual core/1.5GHz dual core

Memory: 16GB

Camera (front): 1.3MP

Battery: 4,400 mAh/

6,000 mAh

 



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