Road Test: Kin­dle Fire HD

Finweek English Edition - - NEWS - Simon Din­gle si­mond@fin­

Un­til re­cently the ad­vice on tablets was sim­ple: get an iPad. Now things are dif­fer­ent. There are great An­droid tablets avail­able and un­der­dogs like Mi­crosoft with its sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Sur­face tablets are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly com­pelling. Ama­zon is also a sig­nif­i­cant player now and its Kin­dle Fire HD is now of­fi­cially avail­able in South Africa.

The Kin­dle Fire uses Ama­zon’s own op­er­at­ing sys­tem that is based on An­droid. Do not con­fuse it with ac­tual An­droid, how­ever. You have to use Ama­zon’s app store and can’t load apps from the Google Play store. The in­ter­face is also com­pletely dif­fer­ent – not a bad thing at all.

In the US you can get books, mag­a­zines, movies, mu­sic and apps on the Fire. In SA, how­ever, the store only has books, mag­a­zines and apps. To watch movies or lis­ten to mu­sic you have to load your own files from else­where. This also isn’t a re­place­ment for the e-ink Kin­dle mod­els. The Fire is more of a mul­ti­me­dia tablet. Its bat­tery life isn’t nearly as good as the eink Kin­dles. Its screen doesn’t cope as well out­side due to glare. In short, if all you want to do is read books then save money and get a reg­u­lar Kin­dle. If you want to play games, email and use apps then the Fire is worth con­sid­er­ing. The app store is well stocked. An­gry

Birds, Skype and Flip­board are there, among other favourite apps. You can also get around the coun­try re­stric­tions by ly­ing about where you live but it re­quires some tech­ni­cal steps that may not be worth it.

The de­vice is very well built and de­signed. The speak­ers are very good and the screen is beau­ti­ful, which make this one of the best bangs for your buck in the tablet space. The tablet is avail­able in 8.9” and 7” ver­sions. Stor­age op­tions are 8GB or 16GB.

The Fire has some in­no­va­tive fea­tures – such as ‘Free Time’ that al­lows par­ents to con­trol how much time their kids can spend play­ing on the tablet, and also makes shar­ing one tablet with sev­eral peo­ple eas­ier.

This isn’t the lat­est Fire XHD range that was re­cently launched in the USA, how­ever, but rather “last year’s model”.

If you’re look­ing for a sim­ple tablet that won’t break the bank and of­fers solid ba­sic func­tion­al­ity then this is def­i­nitely worth a look. For ev­ery­thing else our ad­vice hasn’t changed – get an iPad.

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