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Monday, 29 October 2012

Hands on the UK Kindle Fire

I've had my hands on the Kindle Fire for a little under a week now and have had enough time to familiarize  myself with the device - firstly this is not, like the Kindle proper, a dedicated eReader, although books can be read on it. The display  is not eInk and for reading entire novels the crystal clear TFT display could cause eye strain, just as reading books on Apple's iPad can cause eyestrain.

The Fire is Amazon's answer to the iPad and at the price will likely cause Apple a lot of heartache. I've got the 7inch model, there is also a more expensive 8.9 inch HD version and both models are well prices - the 7inch goes for £107 while the HD model is priced at £159 which puts both versions at the cheaper end of the tablet market. Though cheap in price only and Amazon have taken a loss to ensure that the Fire's do not feel cheap, nor to they operate like a cheap and tacky device.

For the technical minded here are the specs:

  • New 1.2GHz processor and 1GB RAM for 40% faster performance than the original Kindle Fire
  • Vibrant 7" colour touchscreen for browsing, watching, playing, and reading
  • Perfect portability - thin, light, and durable
  • Over 22 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, and magazines, plus tens of thousands of popular apps and games such as Angry Birds Space, Skyscanner, Jamie's 20 Minute Meals and Auto Trader
  • One-month free trial of LOVEFiLM Instant video streaming for unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV series
  • Ultra-fast web browsing and e-mail over built-in Wi-Fi, with integrated support for Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and more, as well as Microsoft Exchange calendar, contacts, and email
  • Free unlimited cloud storage for all your Amazon content

The Fire is first and foremost an entertainment machine, and because of its small amount of internal storage Amazon are wise to push it as a cloud based device - and it works well with what it is intended to do. I ve used mine to stream movies form both Lovefilm and Netflix but also found it simple to sideload my own video content onto the device. If you buy a blu-ray that includes a digital copy along with your film then you'll have no problem porting it over to the Fire. I've also tried reading comics on the device which was a great experience, with complex artwork being displayed wonderfully on the vibrant screen. Children's books also look great and there are many enhanced children's books available for the device,with video and audio embedded into the book.

The Amazon UK AP store is not yet as varied as the US version, which is a pain since without a little tinkering the device won't let you download APs from the Android marketplace, however with a small settings change the wealth of Android APs become available. Though I have no doubt that the Amazon AP store will soon equal the US version - the UK Fire has, after all, only been available since last week.

If the device suffers at all it is perhaps with the weakness of he onboard speakers, but with a set of headphones there is no problem at all. I watched Kevin Smiths' Copland while laying in bed last night and I found the viewing experience, if not the film, to be quite excellent. I think I'll be using my Fire for movie watching a lot, especially when out and about. Of course it will never replace my beloved Kindle for reading novels, but then it's not intended to do that.

A great device.

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