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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  • AmdInside - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Since I already have an iPad 2, nothing in the new Kindles makes me want to pick it up as an upgrade. The Kindle Paperwhite is interesting and may pick it up but I hate how they lowered the amount of memory.
  • seapeople - Saturday, September 8, 2012 - link

    I bet people who own Audi's aren't too impressed with new Corolla's, either.
  • kllrnohj - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    "Both screens are also very dense, at 254 ppi. "

    This is true. It is for the 8.9, but the 7" HD has a 1280x800 screen which puts it at 215 ppi - that's quite a bit lower than 254.
  • kllrnohj - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Gah, that should be "this *isn't* true" :/
  • Jamezrp - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    If you're going to correct even yourself, I suppose I should correct my error too.
  • exostrife - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Can't wait to see some reviews.

    I had the original Fire for the same reason as many: it was cheap. I recently sold it with an eye towards upgrading while the old unit still had resale value and the new Kindle's seem like a great package.

    I was tempted by the Nexus 7 but held off because it didn't really address my prime complaints about the Fire. The extra performance is nice, but honestly wasn't a huge factor for me for what I use the tablet for, and likewise, the other additions it had were not front burner issues for my usage.

    Personally, I use my desktop for most computing tasks. Being touch screen based and battery powered, tablets aren't really useful for most tasks I use my desktop for. To compare them to a laptop, there is no value proposition there as the laptop will easily trump in usability (keyboard etc.) and power for less or same money. Really a tablet is good for media consumption, e-reading, light web tasks, and casual gaming. Essentially--stuff that your smartphone is good at but that is greatly improved by having a larger screen, with just a pinch of stuff you might do on your computer but you'll deal with some pokeyness to be able to do it in a prone position. Some might see a tablet as a laptop replacement, but for me I see the interaction method, power, network speed, storage (etc.) to be an unacceptable trade-off (and I don't commute for hours on a train etc, where I'd like to do work with the least encumbrance possible).

    To me the new Kindle's hit my usage model better than the Nexus 7. My two biggest complaints on the original Fire were the storage space and no video out. The new Fire HD doesn't give me the SD slot I wanted, but it does bump the internal storage and gives the HDMI out. To me this is huge because now the tablet can be used to replace a Roku, not to mention it lets you share photos and videos with family on a big screen. Adding bluetooth opens the possibility of this maybe even giving some sort of Ouya like gaming experience with a separate controller. It also means you could potentially get a real keyboard, or maybe even some sort of local NAS for more storage. If they had a MicroSD slot these things would be a slam dunk for what I think a tablet is good for, and the fact of the matter is, no one makes one with this performance, video out, and a micro sd.

    No jellybean? Haven't used it, can't miss it. The fact that it is a forked Android is more noise than problem too--I've bought 5 Android phones for my family in the last 2 years and used another half dozen at work, and they all roll their own UI anyway. If you can't have the Play store this is of slight consideration, as side-loading APK's is easy and based on my experience with the original Fire, mostly effective.

    I have used many tablets because of work and I just don't see the point of most (including iPad)--they just cost too much money for what they are good at. I think this is what the market is finally starting to get with Google and Amazon more on the money than most.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Please for the love of god someone give me a wifi-optimized RDP app that gives me a fluid interface to my 1080p desktop PC from my 1080p tablet. It should be possible to get at least 30 fps over wifi, using compression. Once we have that, we can talk about bringing the same thing to a truly remote PC.
  • Roland00Address - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Been using it for about a year now
  • Shadowmaster625 - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - link

    Yeah well how are you supposed to plug a mouse and keyboard into a stupid icrap? I'm talking about RDP that makes a tablet into a full fledged workstation. So obviously it needs mouse and keyboard support. And not using some stupified $100 iRipoff peripherals either.
  • SantaAna12 - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    "Amazon is not allowing benchmarks at this time" Pffffffffft. End of fact.....why are you writing it?

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