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Review: Kindle Fire Hardware Impressions

Amazon made a big impact by announcing the Kindle Fire 7 inch Android tablet for a extremely competitive 200$ pricetag. Prior to the Kindle Fire you could only find very low quality hardware from no-name Chinese companies. Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Asus, Acer and nearly all other important manufacturers released tablets which were as expensive as an Apple iPad or only slightly cheaper. After the HP webOS Touchpad firesale it became apparent that there is a huge demand for below 300$ devices, and Amazon positioned their first Android hardware exactly in this slot.

Upon receiving the Kindle Fire you’ll notice that it’s just a regular Amazon delivery package, nothing fancy looking like we came to expect from current highend smartphones and tablets. Besides the Kindle tablet there is only a small manual and an AC charger to be found.

The hardware design is very minimalistic but still attractive, i don’t understand why some blogs claim that it’s boring and i prefer the Kindle Fire design compared to fancy stuff that just tries to stand out. There is no front hardware button, so you have a clean look at the 7 inch Gorilla glas IPS display with a 1024 * 600 pixel resolution which results in clear text and images reproduction. Sadly the display is reflecting very strongly which sometimes makes the Kindle Fire a little bit awkward to use when there is a bright light source somewhere around. For outside usage it’s possible to adjust the display to very high brightness settings, which is good but it can’t match the readability of e-ink of course.

I love the soft touch finish of the back because it’s easier and more comfortable to grip than most other tablets like i.e. the iPad 2. Interestingly I even prefer the thickness of the Kindle Fire as the pretty sharp metal edges and the overall weight of the iPad 2 may hurt your hands after a while. This preference will change in the future as tablets will become significantly lighter, but as for now it seems that 7 inch is better suited for me regarding overall handling, weight and size.

The power button, micro USB slot and 3.5 mm headphone jack can be found at the bottom of the device. Some people have complained that you will press the power button unintended sometimes (i.e while resting the device on your lap) because of the position, but this never happened to me.

Loudspeakers have been placed on the top and provide good sound but nothing spectacular. There is no button or memory card slot on the sides of the Kindle Fire. Amazon went for a very simplistic design without any specific highlights. And I really like the understated looks.

Battery lifetime is not among the best tablets out there with approximately 5 hours of heavy usage, but it’s good enough for me. About 6.5 GB of internal storage is available for all your media files and apps after the initial startup, and a dual core T.I. OMAP 4 1GHz CPU is doing the heavy work under the hood.

Amazon did an impressive job with the Kindle Fire hardware. Compared to other devices you would have got 10 months ago for 200$ it’s really incredible to see such a solid product with good hardware specs being sold that cheap. There are some glaring weaknesses like the missing SD card slot, only 6.5 GB of available storage, no front/back camera and no HDMI output, so the Kindle Fire is a pretty closed system but it’s still easily worth 200 dollars overall.

Making money out of hardware sales was actually never the intention, as the Kindle Fire is meant to be primarily a device to access and consume Amazon services. It’s basically the window to the whole Amazon repertoire from streaming services to the marketplace. Now most of this only works in the US currently, so one interesting question is how much sense it makes to get a Kindle Fire outside of the United States. Just taking the hardware specs into account it’s worth the money, but there are some obstacles to be taken before you can use it like a regular Android tablet. Stay tuned for the upcoming Kindle Fire article which will focus on utilizing the device outside of the USA.

Amazon Kindle Fire Hardware Specs

CPU T.I. OMAP 4, Dual Core, 1 GHz
RAM 512 MB
Internal Storage 8 GB
Display 7″ multi-touch display with IPS (in-plane switching) technology and anti-reflective treatment, 1024 x 600 pixel resolution at 169 ppi, 16 million colors.
Sensors Accelerometer
Media formats supported Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8.
Internet Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or enterprise networks with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication; does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
Connector MicroUSB connector with USB 2.0
Headphone jack 3.5mm stereo
Battery Up to 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback, with wireless off. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as web browsing and downloading content.
Dimensions Size (in inches): 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″ (190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm).
Weight: 14.6 ounces (413 grams).