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Seven Inch Kindle Fire HD: First Impressions

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After today’s announcements I got to spend a little time playing with the new 7 inch Kindle Fire HD. Amazon has upped their game by releasing an updating Kindle Fire, and more importantly, two Kindle Fire HDs. Read on for my first impressions of the Kindle Fire HD.

While Amazon says they’ve made some major improvements to the Kindle Fire, I didn’t see a lot of improvements in the UI or the response time. The UI itself is almost identical to the original Fire, including the consistent presence of lag from the home screen. Jumping between sections like Books or Videos takes a few seconds, making the overall experience feel cheap. It’s possible that the 8.9 inch version of the Kindle Fire HD will perform better, but there isn’t much of a difference between the processors in each model (the 7 inch model runs the TI OMAP 4460 while the 8.9 inch model runs the 4470).

One big improvement over the previous Kindle Fire is the screen. Bezos wasn’t exaggerating when he noted the crispness and clarity of the display. While there was a noticeable amount of glare, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for a tablet device.

According to Amazon Kindle Vice President Dave Limp, the Fire HD lineup is running a heavily customized version of Android 4.o. While he didn’t mention specific numbers, Limp confirmed that Amazon does indeed make a profit on Kindle hardware (though that profit must be minuscule).

Amazon made it clear in the event today that they’re competing with Apple now with the Kindle Fire HD. This is a big step for Amazon. Competing in the low end doesn’t carry nearly as many risks as competing in the high end, something Google and its partners have learned the hard way. It’s possible that Amazon will be able to take more of the tablet market with their low price points and the attractive new data plan, but that sort of achievement will probably require a much better performing device than the one I saw today.

  • max

    OMAP 4460 of Kindle fire HD is no Match for Tegra3 of Nexus 7. If it was a OMAP 4470 then it might be a ‘may be’ equal call.
    You can beat software optimization of Google and Nvidia on their own hardware, Unless you are using a significantly higher clock and a QuadMali400 or Mali450 /T604 based processor.

    This Kindle HD is a fail.

  • Mco

    I struggle to express how “blah” I feel about the new Kindle Fire HD. I can’t imagine why anyone would chose one over a Nexus 7, or even the upcoming iPad Mini (which, despite my strongly anti-Apple stance, will probably be pretty nice).

    Ugh. A totally uninspiring and unimpressive device. From initial impressions anyway.

  • zerocool79346

    How can it possibly be that laggy?? Talk about shoot yourself in the foot. It’s going to get panned by critics when facing the Nexus 7.

    • Mapekz

      To be fair: 1) they are running ICS, not JB, and even JB isn’t as lag-free as it should be, 2) with Amazon’s customization of Android transitions seem nonexistent, which makes it seem laggier.

      In the video above, outside of the Cover Flow part (which is also laggy on JB devices; it involves loading each picture into memory on demand), all the lag was due to app switching. The difference is when Kellex clicked “videos” up top it highlighted the word “Videos” but didn’t do anything for a few seconds until all of a sudden the app loaded up. On stock Android a transition animation plays during this time and black covers the entire screen (usually the app has a splash screen instead) until the app is loaded.

      Even iOS 5 lags when doing certain tasks but you usually doesn’t see this because Apple masks a lot of the wait with transitions and delayed loading of assets. Both iOS and Android (and almost every app and program you’ve ever used in your life, at least after Windows 95 came out) gives higher priority to UI threads than to logic and background processing threads.

      For another take on how the perception of delay can be more of a problem than the delay itself check out http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/opinion/sunday/why-waiting-in-line-is-torture.html?pagewanted=all

  • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

    This, THIS is why Android has a bad reputation. OEMs take Android, F it all up and make it terrible. Stock Jelly Bean running on good hardware is fast, smooth, and every bit as reliable as iOS but most people think Android sucks because they don’t know what it really is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10215724 Raj Bhatt

    The 4470 is 20% faster and more efficient than the 4460, so I’d say that is a bit of difference actually.

    • Robert Jakiel

      OK but it now has to deal with a higher res screen and a larger one at that which would mean that all that power will be somewhat offset by the new display.

  • zaggs

    I just do not understand why they didn’t go with quad core. I’d rather have a more powerful chip than LTE.

  • sundar2012

    You can root, boot, flash and mod this into a CM10 tablet I would hope…

    • mystikalrush

      Ideally people wanting this tablet are for the amazon features, especially prime owners. Why would they wipe that completely out, wasting money on features they want?Nonetheless not the product they debuted this evening.

      • sundar2012

        Well i can get amazon kindle, music and prime instant on my ipad right now… and i’m totally in the amazon ecosystem just through my ipad because i can cross it with my android phone.

      • Justin

        vvv That’s why. Moar Freedom FTW!

      • Asmodai

        You have that backwards. Amazon is selling the hardware at little or no profit because they are expecting to earn a profit from your ecosystem purchases. You aren’t wasting money by wiping off their software, you are negating their profit and getting decent hardware for cheap.

  • Booyah

    Nexus 7 > Kindle Fire HD 7″

  • DanWazz

    That lag is pretty bad. I will not be recommending this to people.

  • Anakin Solo

    I was very interested until I saw the lower resolution on the 7″ and LAG. OUCH!!! I guess my Touchpad will have to last me a while longer.

  • Jtay23

    So is the N7 still king of the hill?

    • Anakin Solo

      Depends on what you are measuring. If CPU power? YES!!

      • Justin

        Depends on what you are measuring? I don’t see anything that the Kindle Fire HD has over the N7. It’s locked to Amazon’s offerings whereas with the N7, we have choice of anything we want.

        • TheCheapGamer

          1080 screen would be awesome on the N7

  • http://twitter.com/TheGoatweed Goat Weed

    videos usually don’t do the devices justice, but seeing the “android lag” represented on that clip makes me wonder how much more the same it will be compared to the regular fire. Aside from the display it looks like the feel of the OS will be the same as the old device.

    Let’s go Google, drop a 10″ Nexus tablet already!

  • mystikalrush

    I call a flop, that much lag is a big NO in my book.

  • steve30x

    Lost interest when i heard him say “lag” on the video lol.

    • smitty

      Most likely everyone at the event is using a kindle at the same time. That can cause lag.

      • streetlightman

        That makes absolutely no sense. Why would there be lag when scrolling on Droid-life if everyone is using a Kindle?

        It’s just slow.

  • http://twitter.com/DreamSTi Erik Reidt

    N7’s quad core > anything listed here…

    • NicholasMicallef

      but most of all N7 software> anything as far as android tablets go :D

      • michael arazan

        why do oem’s think skins differentiate themselves when vanilla android is better. If the skin made it somehow smother or better I could understand but it makes it worse. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

        • NicholasMicallef

          they use skins to add features and to make the devices more recognizable as their own. I am a fan of pure Google, but some features have actually been copied from skins like touchwiz so I really don’t mind OEMs introdcing their own skins, especially since it’s android and therefore I’m free to install a different launcher or just use CM.

  • Timothy McGovern

    I think it’s a good tablet

    • Justin Schmiesing

      You need to chill, you commented like 5 times lmao.

      I’ll get this if the developer community can get it running AOSP 4.1

      • Timothy McGovern

        They weren’t showing up lol. And the only way i’d get this is if it could run custom roms :P

  • Timothy McGovern

    Looks like a good tablet

  • http://twitter.com/peridoc Keith Schonrock III

    One question is what will the $50 data plan go to in year 2? Will it still be $50 or will it go up significantly?

  • Timothy McGovern

    first!

  • Butters619

    Kindle Fire HD 7″ with CM10…..I think so!

  • Aardvark99

    Needs more Butter.

    • EC8CH

      ^Winnar

  • Oreo

    So, is the Nexus 7 a paperweight now?

    • Josh Flowers

      very excited to see a side-by-side comparison of the two

      • http://twitter.com/r2DoesInc r2DoesInc

        LOL.

      • Justin

        I’m more excited to see the Fire get wasted by the N7.

        • Justin

          After typing that, it brought back flashes of Mass Effect..

    • OreoMan

      How is someone using a piece of my screen name going to make a comment like this! Damn it!

    • Justin

      No – the Fire is still the paperweight.

  • ddevito

    Amazon knows products, content and keeping a loyal customer base.

    They have yet to prove how great a software company they are. Looks like they still haven’t