Review of the new Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Consumer Reports

Amazon Kindle Fire HD
Amazon Kindle Fire HD is a fine performer and attractive value.

In its Kindle Fire HD, Amazon aspires to creating "the best tablet at any price". Our tests to date can’t yet confirm its incomparable standing. But it’s clear that Amazon’s top-of-the-line tablet is a very fine performer and a big step up from the first-generation Kindle Fire.

We’ve been testing a press sample of the $199 7-inch Fire HD in advance of its shipping date of this Friday. (An 8.9-inch version of the device ships on November 20, and a revamped version of the first-generation Kindle Fire ships on October 1.)

MORE AT COnsumer Reports

Here’s our take on what is now Amazon’s top-of-the-line tablet, including comparisons to the iPad and Google Nexus 7, both very strong performers in our tablet Ratings.






View gallery

.
Amazon Kindle Fire HD

What We Like

The display is fine indeed. The biggest claim for this second-generation Kindle Fire is an improved screen. That claim holds up in our tests.

In particular, glare is reduced over the HD’s predecessor, creating a screen that’s among the easiest to read in bright light among tablets we’ve tested. Color fidelity is also a step up on the old Fire, though it’s still a little behind the third-generation iPad screen, which has the highest color accuracy we’ve observed on a tablet. Viewing angle is very wide, on a par with the best 7-inch tablets.

Battery life is among the best for a 7-inch tablet. In our tests, of repeated loading and display of Web pages, the Fire HD ran for well over 8 hours on a charge. Amazon claims an 11-hour battery life in its tests, which we can’t yet verify. But it’s clear that this new Fire is among the longest-running 7-inch tablets.

Cloud access is wider.Those familiar with the user interface of the original Kindle Fire will find relatively little has changed here. The customized android interface offers ready access to key functions and content—especially Amazon content like the free movies that come with the $80-a-year Amazon Prime membership.

One welcome change is the expansion in the types of content that can be accessed from the free Amazon Cloud service.  Like the previous Kindle Fire, this one allows you to toggle between music and documents stored on the device and in your Cloud account, and to readily transfer Cloud content to the device. Now the same functionality is offered for photos—a handy upgrade, especially when that 5 GB of free Cloud storage can hold some 2000 photos.

You can also import—and easily--photos from the Fire HD’s Facebook app to the device’s photo gallery.


View gallery

.
Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Handy hardware and software additions.Some oft-lamented omissions from the first-generation Fire have been remedied. The Fire HD has a physical volume button, replacing the virtual screen control on its predecessor. The device now has a camera, too, a front-facing one that can be used with the Fire HD’s new, pre-installed Skype app.

There’s also a calendar app, too. There are also parental controls, known as FreeTime, that offer greater control over kids’ tablet use than do the comparable tools for Microsoft Windows; for example, you can control not only the times of days your kids are using the computer but also the total number of hours of use per day, and by content type, which the Windows controls do not allow. 

The video at left highlights the so-called X-Ray for movies feature that allows you, with a tap of the screen, to call up bios from the Internet Movie Data Base (which Amazon now owns) for the actors in the scene you’re watching. As with the X-Ray feature for Kindle Books, which allows you to look up characters and word definitions, X-Ray for Movies will launch with a select group of titles and expand, Amazon says.

Another Amazon acquisition, Audible.com and its audiobooks, has also facilitated an expansion of the Whispersync feature. It  now not only allows you to pick up reading Kindle books where you stopped  reading on another device, but will permit owners of both the audiobook and Kindle book to switch modes while keeping their place in the book.  And there’s now Whispersync for game play, too.

(See also: iPhone 5: What to expect)

Sound is superb for a smaller tablet. The Fire HD is one of the first tablets out with Dolby Digital Plus, an audio enhancement standard aimed at mobile devices. With the Digital Plus setting on, the sound from the Fire HD’s stereo speakers was the best we’ve heard from a 7-inch tablet, including surprisingly distinct stereo separation for speakers that are only a few inches apart.

Other features, untested at least as yet, include dual Wi-Fi antennas and the ability to ability to use the 5 GHz Wi-Fi band.



View gallery

.
Amazon Kindle Fire HD
Quibbles

We've found no major flaws with the Kindle Fire HD, at least as yet. But these are some minor negative aspects to the device:

There’s still no full apps store.  The apps selection for the Kindle Fires, including the HD, remains curated; apps are selected for optimal performance on the devices, according to Amazon.

App selection is wide--and will include, at launch, thousands of apps optimized to the HD’s superior screen, Amazon says. But you won’t enjoy as many app choices with this device as you will with other Android tablets, which have access to the Google Play store or with the iPad, with its still-incomparable Apps Store.

Storage is bigger but still limited. Where the first-generation Kindle Fire was available only with 8 GB of storage, the Kindle Fire HD has been upgraded to 16 or 32 GB. Yet, as many some other tablets, including the iPad, there’s still isn’t a memory card slot to allow further expansion.  


Consumer Reports' Take

While our tests continue, the Kindle Fire HD shows every sign of being a fine performer. It’s also attractively priced, despite our quibbles; for example, it costs a little less than the 16-GB Google Nexus 7, itself aggressively priced, even if you add the cost of a charger and the no-Special-Offers upgrade.

The Fire HD’s suitability over other tablets may hinge on your commitment to fully using the Amazon “ecosystem” of services. This Kindle Fire will appeal the most to Amazon Prime subscribers who want to maximize easy access to the service’s free streaming movies and free loans of Kindle Books, enjoy often-alluring Amazon special offers, and want easy access to personal content they’ve uploaded  to their Amazon Cloud account.

 




Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Trump's Russia scandal takes an unexpected turn

      On Friday afternoon, FBI Director James Comey delivered a classified, hour-long briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Russia scandal, and soon after, the Senate Intelligence Committee sent “formal requests to more than a dozen organizations, agencies and individuals, asking them to preserve all materials related to the committee’s investigation” into the controversy. We don’t know much about how the briefing went – committee members were tight-lipped following Comey’s presentation – though Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted late Friday that he’s “now very confident” that the committee will conduct “thorough bipartisan investigation” into Russia’s “interference and influence.” Reading

      MSNBC q
    • Fox News Host Brenda Buttner Dead at 55

      Brenda Buttner, host of the Fox News show Bulls and Bears, has died after a battle with cancer. She was 55.

      People
    • First-Grade Teacher Suspended Over 'Illegal Aliens' Post: School District

      The elementary school teacher advocated reporting undocumented immigrants, according to school district officials, who suspended her.

      Inside Edition
    • Workers Fired After Not Showing Up on `A Day Without Immigrants`

      Dozens of people in Denver say they were fired for taking part in "A Day Without Immigrants" protest last week.

      Tribune
    • Dozens fired after skipping work to participate in 'A Day Without Immigrants' protests

      Across the U.S. employers fired hundreds of protestors who skipped work to participate in rallies.

      CNBC.com q
    • Doctor gets life in prison after intentionally botching spine surgery in Dallas County  | Courts

      They heard from Philip Mayfield, who cries when he thinks of all of his son's football games that he hasn't been able to watch because he often passes out from chronic pain, and Barry Morgaloff, who limps with a brace and a cane as a result of irreparable nerve damage in his spine. They heard from Jeff Cheney, who woke up paralyzed from the neck down on his right side, and Jackie Troy, who talks in a permanent whisper and almost died from an infection after she was left with puncture wounds in her throat after Duntsch performed neck surgery on her. "I'm just trying to stay focused and be thankful that I'm one of the lucky ones in this situation," said Troy, who's alive to talk about her encounter

      Dallas Morning News q
    • International anti-Trump protests (18 photos)

      Demonstrators in Europe protest the presidency of Donald Trump, during the U.S. Presidents’ Day long weekend. See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr

      Yahoo News Photo Staff
    • Dear Abby: He keeps insulting wife about her past

      DEAR ABBY: Because I had a promiscuous past prior to getting married, it was understandable that my husband and I have gone through some rough patches. It’s been three years since our wedding, and he still can’t let it go sometimes. A recent argument just escalated into his calling me a whore and stupid. We have a beautiful little girl together, so it’s not like I can just up and go whenever I want. When is enough, enough? Where is the point that I can give in to the thought that I can’t do it anymore? Or is this just what marriage is? We have already done counseling, and it just made it worse. I feel really alone, so can you please give me some feedback? — ROUGH PATCH DEAR ROUGH PATCH: If your

      Chicago Sun-Times q
    • MYSTERY: Half-eaten shark on Florida beach raises speculation about what killed it

      A half-eaten shark that washed up on a Florida beach Saturday raised questions about a bigger fish possibly lurking in the water. A Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue lifeguard snapped a photo of the shark on New Smyrna Beach. Beach Safety spokeswoman Tammy Morris told News 4 Jax that the shark was “definitely” eaten by a bigger fish. She added that the shark was either a blacktip or spinner shark. A 14-foot great white shark named Katherine was spotted off the Florida coast in January. Another great white shark was spotted in the waters on Feb. 1, Florida wildlife officials said. Morris said half-eaten sharks do not wash up on the beach often, but she has seen it before. Officials said

      Fox News q
    • Tori Spelling’s lavish baby shower lands Dean McDermott in court over back child support

      Dean McDermott is about to welcome his sixth child in the world, courtesy of Tori Spelling, and he was certainly eager to celebrate this momentous occasion. But a February 11 baby shower for him and Tori apparently was too over-the-top, both in its execution and in its public display of excess, according to the Daily Mail. That’s because tabloid reports of the lavish event set off Dean’s ex-wife Mary Jo Eustace. And now, Mary Jo has gone to court, alleging that Dean is thousands of dollars behind in paying child support for Jack, the first of his five biological kids. The baby shower, held in the main restaurant of the posh Bel-Air Hotel, was hosted by Tori’s mother, Candy, the widow of the late

      MercuryNews.com q
    • Melania Trump's sister shows rare behind-the-scenes look

      (CNN)Melania Trump is beginning to forge her own path as America's first lady, assembling a team of aides and advisers. But the name of one longtime confidante, and perhaps her most trusted friend, won't be announced with a news release or statement or a new title: her sister, Ines Knauss. Knauss, Trump's older sister, lives just blocks from Trump Tower in the Trump Park Avenue property, public records confirm. She was Trump's maid of honor at her 2005 Palm Beach wedding, People magazine reported at the time. And the first lady called Knauss "an incredible woman and a friend" in her July speech at the Republican National Convention. And the sister of the famously private Slovenian-born first

      CNN q
    • Cyborg: Rousey won’t fight me because ‘she knows what’s gonna happen’

      Invicta FC featherweight champion and UFC fighter Cris Cyborg received great news last week, as USADA granted her a retroactive TUE for Spironolactone, a banned substance she tested positive for in a December out-of-competition drug test. Cyborg received no suspension, which paves the way for her to resume competition and capture the UFC women’s featherweight belt, currently possessed by Germaine de Randamie. A few days prior to the USADA announcement, Cyborg was on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, and she had plenty to say about Ronda Rousey. The former UFC women’s bantamweight champion returned to the Octagon at UFC 207, and was resoundingly beaten in just 47 seconds by Amanda Nunes. Cyborg

      Bloody Elbow q
    • Selena Gomez Gave The Weeknd a Quiet Shoutout Via Her Mom's Instagram Account

      Selena Gomez just gave her rumored boyfriend, The Weeknd (whose real name is Abel Tesfaye) a social media shoutout, but in a carefully subtle kind of way. In a picture posted to her mom, Mandy Teefey's Kicked to the Curb Productions Instagram, Selena posed in some of The Weeknd's merch. You can barely see Selena's shirt in the picture, but that didn't stop fans from spotting the nod pretty much immediately. "Family Game night!! I love them all even though they almost beat me up...@selenagomez "date" for the night was two hours late so he missed group photo @rayhughesla! NO THEY ARE NOT REALLY DATING," Teefey captioned the Instagram picture. Sure, it's not enough to call Selena and The Weeknd

      Marie Claire q
    • Entertainment Tonight
    • When a Pimp's "Bottom Girl" Does the Dirty Work, She's Often the One Who Ends Up Punished

      A particularly poignant example comes from a 2012 case Melton tried as a San Antonio prosecutor. Melton went after a pimp who had sold a 16-year-old girl for sex over two years. The girl suffered horrific abuse at his hands—she was raped, impregnated, and forced to have an abortion. When she tried to run away, the pimp carved his initials into her forearm. The pimp got a 20-year sentence. A year later, the same girl was 19 and headed to prison herself. A federal judge sentenced her to three years for helping her new pimp recruit a San Antonio high school student. Melton said what happened to the girl, who never received treatment, broke her heart. "It's a great example of the cyclical nature

      ELLE q
    • Amazing Video of German Fighter Jets Intercepting a 777 That Went Quiet

      A Boeing 777 was carrying passengers on India's Jet Airways from Mumbai to London this week when the pilots lost contact with air traffic controllers based in Cologne Germany. With a suddenly out-of-reach jet cruising through its airspace, Germany quickly hustled Typhoon fighter jets to intercept the airliner, as you can see in this video from the Facebook page CirrusPilot. It's pretty amazing footage, which was captured by a British Airways flight in the neighborhood. The 777 streaks across the sky solo. First one Typhoon and then a second pull up alongside the plane to make sure all is well. This plane mishap story has a happy ending. The Typhoons helped the airliner reestablish communications

      Popular Mechanics q
    • Just Hours Old, 1 Newborn Helped Pull Off the Ultimate Surprise For His Mom

      After Susan Medina and Darick Mead welcomed their first child, the new mom had no idea that there was about to be another reason to celebrate. At just hours old, Darick enlisted his newborn's help in pulling off the ultimate surprise proposal, which left the new mom stunned. The Nebraska couple has been together for two years and Darick always teased Susan that he didn't want to get married for 40 years. However, this new dad had a much sooner date in mind and worked with hospital staff to make their newborn's birth even more memorable. A month before Ryder's birth, Darick bought an engagement ring and let the hospital in on his idea. Shortly after Susan's C-section, nurses came in to "check

      PopSugar q
    • Samsung may swap out the Galaxy Note 7’s hot battery to sell you a safe, refurbished version

      Samsung just might be considering selling refurbished Note 7, swapping out the battery for one that isn't so problematic, so it can claw back some of the lost revenue. Nothing has been officially confirmed quite yet.

      Digital Trends
    • Dexter Fowler: “I didn’t say anything wrong.”

      Dexter Fowler stands by a statement he recently made about how President Trump's attempts to institute a travel ban have adversely affected his family.

      HardballTalk q
    • Trump’s first month travel expenses cost taxpayers just less than what Obama spent in a year

      On Monday, President Trump returns to Washington DC from his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where he’s spent the last three weekends. The Washington Post reports that those three trips “probably cost the federal treasury about $10 million, based on figures used in an October government report analyzing White House travel, including money for Coast Guard units to patrol the exposed shoreline and other military, security and staffing expenses associated with moving the apparatus of the presidency.” So far, the highlight of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago trips has been he and his aides struggling to deal with an international crisis in full view of diners and staff during the evening of February 11. The

      ThinkProgress q