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Seven Inch Kindle Fire HD: First Impressions

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.

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