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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  • Death666Angel - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    I am currently owning a cheap tablet that has all I need (1280 IPS panel, 10.1", Cortex A9 Dual Core 1.6GHz, Mali-400, 16GB, mSD Slot, HDMI out). The 8.9" Fire HD looks very nice, but I won't upgrade just to get a better screen. When I upgrade (sometime next year maybe), I will want a better screen and at least a better SoC.
    If I didn't have a tablet, yet, the 8.9" would be very tempting, because of the prize mostly and I like the form factor. The other announcements are not something of interest to me.

    Also, the table on the first page has the 8.9" Fire HD as having a 1080p panel. That is kinda confusing.
  • HighTech4US - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    --> I am currently owning a cheap tablet that has all I need (1280 IPS panel, 10.1", Cortex A9 Dual Core 1.6GHz, Mali-400, 16GB, mSD Slot, HDMI out)

    Could you elaborate as to who makes and what the model is for this inexpensive tablet. It sounds interesting. Thanks.
  • Death666Angel - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    It's called "Cube U30GT". It is a chinese made tablet with a RockChip RK3066 SoC. There are other similar products like "Window/Yuandao N101 II" (same as Cube nearly, but 32GB), "PIPO Max M1" (the latter is a 9.7" with the usual 1024x768 resolution).
    There are a few problems with it of course (even brand devices have them):
    - quality control is lacking and some people get defects like dead pixels, mushy/unresponding buttons, dead charger, backlight bleed and apparently some tablets were sent out with MVA panels (but there is a exchange program now running I believe)
    - it currently runs Android 4.1.1 but there are some bugs (bluetooth audio delay when watching videos), custom ROMs are being developed though
    - some people report mSD card corruption or that it does not get detected in the first place
    - some people report sub-optimal WiFi reception
    - in order to get full market access you have to do some modding (built.prop and permissions folder)

    The only issue my own tablet has is moderate backlight bleed, but I only notice it in dark rooms with dark scenes on the tablet. I can play any game I have tried so far. I paid 250€ for it because I got it through an importer (it was still 100 to 150€ cheaper than any of the brand tablets I could buy here and faster to boot). If I had bought it from China via aliexpress or the like, people got it for $200 (some more, some less). It is similar to these Korean 27" 2560x1440 monitors that anandtech reported on a couple months back. You can save a great deal of money, but there are risks inherent in the process.
    I was lucky enough that everything worked out great. I've had it for nearly 3 months now and had a great time with it. In the light the Nexus7 and the new Archos devices, the competition definitely got bigger.
    There are good communities about this device out there, flashmyandroid and slatedroid have dedicated forums if you want more information on it.
    It may not be for you or the majority of others, but it is worth checking out at least. RK3066 is trading blows with Tegra3 and other big SoCs that get more coverage and battery life for my tablet is very solid (about 5 to 6 hours of gaming).
  • Roland00Address - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    If your tablet has flash (which you can add to the nexus by sideloading), and you have an amazon prime account you can watch amazon instant videos on any tablet via using a browser with "desktop mode." Log into your amazon account. If the video you are watching is free it will say Prime instant videos Watch Now Unlimited Streaming $0.00.

    Unlike netflix you can stream the joy of the West Wing for free.

    Unfortunately there isn't a dedicated app that would making browsing simpler. The Ipad has recently got a dedicated app but that is probably due to the fact that the Ipad doesn't have flash.
  • HighTech4US - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    It looks like the 7" models are only clocked at 1.2 GHz vs 1.5 GHz for the 8.9" model.

    "but the OMAP 4460 inside the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD is likely to end up slower since it’s pretty much the same chip that we tested in Galaxy Nexus last year. It ends up significantly slower in most benchmarks than the latest flagship phones."

    No access to Google Play store and again comes with an older customized version of Android.

    "It will be interesting to give this device a test ride, but some of the application we like to test might not be available at the Amazon app store as Kindle Fire in any variation uses some kind of Android now based on 4.0, but doesn’t come with native Play Store support, which is kind of a big thing if you ask us."

    Also what sensors are lacking in the Fire's?

    The Nexus 7 has: Microphone, NFC (Android Beam), Accelerometer, GPS, Magnetometer, Gyroscope
  • Peroxyde - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link


    I would like to know if it is possible to make the Kindle HD a regular Android tablet? By replacing Amazon system by stock Android or may be even a custom ROM.
  • Roland00Address - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    If it has a locked bootloader it would be hard maybe impossible. The original fire had a locked bootloader but eventually ways were found around it.

    That said why would you want the Kindle HD? There are other 1920x1200 tablets on the market right now where you will not have to hack Amazon. Asus TF700, Acer A700, Huawei MediaPad 10, as well as soon to be several Windows 8/RT tablets with similar screens.
  • Peroxyde - Saturday, September 8, 2012 - link

    You are right, indeed. It would be simpler to buy an Android tablet rather than hacking the Kindle HD. I wanted to know if it is technically possible. Because if it is easy, and if the Kindle HD has a decent market share, it might be worth the troubles.
  • dagamer34 - Saturday, September 8, 2012 - link

    Price? None of those tablets cost $299.
  • James5mith - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Should be 1920x1200, not 1920x1080.

    16:10 vs. 16:9.

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