Image courtesy of Amazon.com
For the second part of my review on the Kindle Fire I received from Radio Shack, I will focus on the Fire’s Performance as a Tablet.
Since I am a Amazon Prime Member I get free access to many of the streaming shows and movies on Amazon. To test out the Fire, I headed over to the site and fired up an episode of Arrested Development. Once it loaded the show looked great, there were no hiccups in terms of service and the quality looked near HD. The great thing about having such a small screen is that HD doesn’t really factor into the equation. At such a small screen 1080p, 720p or slightly below do not register as easily as it does on a big screen TV.
I have already talked about the sensitivity of the screen in the previous post. The screen reacted pretty well, though I did experience times where I felt like I had to press a bit harder to get a response. Unfortunately, the Fire fall a bit short of the iPad in this area.
For me apps loaded pretty quickly. If there is a difference between any of the Kindle Fire’s competitors I certainly could not detect it.
The Kindle App store has received a large amount of criticism due to its exclusion of a number of android apps. While I am not sure the reason for the exclusion, for the games and tools I wanted to use the store had everything I needed (sports, guitar, news etc) and the prices were relatively comparable. In addition, I am able to use Amazon gift card credits to purchase apps. A word of caution, the Fire does not have 3G or 4G plans it is strictly wireless only, therefore unless you have a connection you wont be able to download any apps.
Additional physical features
The Kindle Fire is pretty basic compared to many of the other tablets, hence, the great price. There is no camera and no gyroscope (the little thingy (technical term) that allows your tablet to sense the movement of the tablet in various directions) or GPS. Many of these features are available on all smart phone so it hasn’t been too much of a loss for me. But if you are looking for that all in one tablet then the Kindle is definitely not for you.
The interface consists of a top line menu which allows you to access certain areas such as: books, docs, apps, web etc. this is then followed by the carousel, which contains a revolving fragment of the most recent programs/documents/website you have used. I am not a big fan of the interface. Specifically due to the carousel, basically whatever you do is instantly put on the carousel and you have to manually remove the item if you don’t want it there anymore.
AS I said before in the first part of the review. A lot of battery is taken but running the apps. In order to save power you can always enter the setting and remove certain programs form running, but that is just an overall inconvenience. Comparatively, the Fire falls fall short of Apple and other tablet brands with an average of 6 hours of battery life, and that doesn’t include running battery sapping activities like streaming.
Amazon introduced the new Silk Browser with the Kindle Fire. Silk takes advantage of the large amount of processing power held by Amazon in the clouds and uses it to speed up the Internet experience. There has been concerns about security regarding Silk as any website you see is technically transmitted to Amazon first. Fortunately, any secure browsing is still protected, anything else is fair game. I found that you can turn this feature off manually without too much problem, and experience little difference in browsing speed.
Overall, the Kindle Fire is definitely not the perfect tablet, it falls short in a number of categories. Yet, when considering the number of tablets in the $200 price range you quickly realize that the Fire has little to no peers. Overall, while I would not consider it a tablet to use for business or school, it does cover most of the basic needs for all users and for me has all the functions that I need to go about my day fully connected. If you want to take a closer look at the Kindle Fire, I strongly suggest you head to your local Radio Shack and get one in your hands. There is no substitute actually trying something out live and in living color.
Disclosure: Radio Shack provided a Kindle Fire for review purposes. The opinions express in this post are my own.