Kindle Fire (2012)

Like cars and, now, the iPad, Amazon is naming their latest Kindle Fire exactly that (just Kindle Fire), though this is definitely a second generation tablet. The differences are slim but noticeable; a slightly faster 1.2GHz clock speed, up from 1GHz, and double the RAM at 1GB. Users also get significantly less storage space, down to 5.5GB from 6.5GB, with no option to expand memory. The majority of changes made to the Fire aren't hardware-based though; it's in the software.

That said, current Fire owners - myself included - can expect some of the software upgrades to be implemented on last  year's model, but Amazon is not revealing what updates will come to the 1st generation units. We'll have to wait until next week, when the new Fire releases, to see what changes are implemented to the original Fire, if they even release simultaneously. 

I spent some time with the Fire, which was almost forgotten in lieu of the newer HD models. It's quite speedy, even considering the lower-end OMAP 4430 powering the device. While both the Fire HD units stuttered occasionally in demos, the Fire did not. It consistently ran smoothly, whether I started playing video, opened a magazine or app, or played in the web browser.

The sense I got from the newer Fire is that it's both meant to replace last year's model while simultaneously acting as a bridge for users skeptical about a tablet from Amazon. Or, for users who just want to watch Prime videos anywhere in their own home and don't need the upgraded display, additional horsepower, or thinner size. As the only Fire tablet not displaying video at HD quality, this model would best serve older people who want to watch, well, older videos available on Prime that don't have HD versions. The thicker build is certainly easier to grip two-handed, and it feels more stable than either of the HD models.

Yet because of the speed of the device, likely thanks to no HD visuals, anyone who won't nitpick about not having video and pictures HD-crisp may have a better experience with the lower-end and less expensive Kindle Fire than the Kindle Fire HD models. Even though they are more powerful devices, it's unclear if they have the increased bandwidth to offer the same speed and fluidity in everyday use that I experienced in ten minutes playing with the standard Fire. 

Kindle Paperwhite: a direct competitor to the Nook Touch Glowlight Kindle Fire HD 7" and 8.9": Competing against Google and Apple
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  • Thrakazog - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    I'm thinking Amazon is gonna catch H.E. double hockey sticks for this. All models of the Fire, both HD and regular, are ad-supported. But no mention of it in the presentation. On Amazon's website, all pictures of the fire with the home screen up fail to show the ads.....even though it clearly states (if you click on the link in the description) that the home screen will have ads on it. I really thought they had something here......but every other manufacturer can just sell at the same high prices they always have and advertise "Ad-Free" now.......
  • MadMan007 - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Leaving lights on to read is a hassle, wastes precious electricity, and isn't very easy on the eyes

    "...isn't very easy on the eyes." What? The human eye evolved to see things based on reflected light. If anything isn't easy on the eyes it's reading backlit screens like LCDs. I do not understand how this phrase can be applied to an e-ink screen on page 2.
  • Jamezrp - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Our eyes are more easily stressed when we try to read in low-light conditions, or more specifically, when there is a lot of light contrast and we try to pick up on details, like text, under poor light. Now if you've got a reasonable reading lamp, then you won't have any problems. But if you're like me, and likely millions of other people who don't use a reading lamp or a light source directed specifically for a book/e-reader, then it can cause eye-strain.

    In relation to that, an e-reader with a built-in light source eliminates that problem by lighting up the letters themselves, or more accurately, the surrounding area. This removes the eye-strain in the exact same way: by removing the light contrast and making it easier for our eyes to adjust to the light levels and not strain to pick up on the text.
  • smartypnt4 - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    I hate to nitpick (username notwithstanding), but the Infinity uses a 1920x1200 screen, which is a 16:10 ratio, not a 1080p screen with a 16:9 ratio.

    Incidentally, I'd never buy a 16:9 tablet. I've owned the new iPad and now I have a 16:10 android tablet, and I can say that I definitely wouldn't want a tablet any skinnier in portrait than a 16:10 ratio.
  • Jamezrp - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    You're absolutely right. Mistake on my part. No need to apologize for the nit-picking, really appreciate it!
  • nitram_tpr - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link


    In the spec comparison table it shows the 8.9 HD as having a 1920 * 1080 screen, in the write up you say it is a 1920 * 1200. Which is it?


  • Jamezrp - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Indeed, it's 1920x1200. That's a mistake, which will be corrected immediately. Thanks for catching that Martin!
  • GoSharks - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    From your article last year:
    "The Kindle Touch is Amazon's first touchscreen e-reader - past Kindles have used nothing but buttons for navigation, even as competing products like Barnes & Noble's Nook Simple Touch began to incorporate touchscreens. At $99 and $149 for the wi-fi and 3G versions ($139 and $189 for the ad-free Kindles),"

    Your 2011 Kindle Touch prices are wrong in this article.
  • silvester51 - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Does this imply that the new kindle is waterproof?
  • Belard - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    These actually look kind of like iPads...

    Somehow Apple isn't suing them... yet?

    They are rectangles with curved corners.

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