Road Test: Kindle Fire HD
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.