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

    • Peta Murgatroyd And Maksim Chmerkovskiy Kicked Out Of Birthing Class

      Maksim Chmerkovskiy said he’s traumatized after he and Peta Murgatroyd were kicked out of their first birthing class.

      International Business Times
    • Kim Jong Un’s Wife Makes First Public Appearance In Months

      Ri Sol Ju was last seen in public on March 28 this year and her absence had sparked rumors of pregnancy while some said she may have had a serious falling out with the North Korean leader.

      International Business Times
    • Three Drunks on Train Harass Woman in Hijab, Commuters Do Nothing

      New York City police are seeking more information about men who harassed a young woman in a hijab on the subway this week. Yasmin Seweid, an 18-year-old business student, was verbally harassed by the men as she waited for a train on the platform, according to the New York Daily News. The three men were reportedly yelling “Trump” and called Seweid a terrorist as they followed her onto a 6 train in New York City’s east side.

      Yahoo Style
    • Madonna Offers to Remarry Sean Penn for $150,000: ‘I’m Still in Love with You’

      The 58-year-old singer hosted a charity gala on Friday night at Art Basel in Miami, where she raised more than $7.5 million for the African nation of Malawi, the Associated Press reported. Wearing a short, black, gold, and silver-patterned long-sleeve dress, Madonna auctioned off rare photographs, tour memorabilia, and pieces from her own art collection, the AP reported — for a star-studded audience that included Penn, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Bethenny Frankel James Corden, Courtney Love, David Blane and ex-boyfriend A-Rod. Much of the event was shared on social media, including a moment where Madonna offered to re-marry Penn if he bid $150,000.

      People
    • Dear Abby: As his mother, wife feud, he must take a side

      DEAR ABBY: I am a happily married man with one problem that doesn’t go away. I convinced my wife, “Ellen,” to move to Florida so we could be close to my family, but now she doesn’t trust them because of an altercation she had with my mother. Ellen says Mom made negative comments about her and lied about it. My intention was for everyone to come together as a family, but now I feel I must decide whether I can be a part of the family. If I do, my wife feels I am saying it’s OK for my family to hurt her. If I don’t, I’ll feel I’m missing out on spending time with them. Ellen no longer wants anything to do with my family and wants them to apologize. It has been a rough four years being trapped in

      Chicago Sun-Times q
    • High Blood Pressure? 22 Foods You Should Avoid as Much as Possible

      One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, yet only half have it under control. Here are 22 foods you should avoid.

      The Cheat Sheet q 25 min ago
    • Vince McMahon received death threats from 'notorious gangster' after he took over WWE

      Stephanie McMahon has said that her father Vince McMahon received death threats from a "notorious gangster" after he took over WWE from her grandfather Vincent J McMahon in 1982. The WWE chief brand officer in an interview revealed the reason behind her father being made a targeted. In an interview for Fortune's Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit, the 40-year-old said people were not impressed with Vince's expansion plans and that was the reason he received death threats.

      International Business Times UK q
    • Dorothy Kilgallen’s tell-all on a Mafia don might have got her killed

      On the night before her shocking death, Dorothy Kilgallen, a star panelist on the hit TV game show “What’s My Line?” correctly guessed the occupation of a mystery guest: a woman who sold ­dynamite. The glamorous, razor-sharp Kilgallen delighted viewers, but behind the scenes, the dogged and courageous reporter was hot on the trail of the biggest story of her life: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. After an autopsy, the city’s chief medical examiner, James Luke, put on Kilgallen’s death certificate: “Acute Ethanol and Barbiturate Intoxication, Circumstances Undetermined.” Luke ruled her death accidental, caused by a combination of sleeping pills and booze. Quickly closing the case, the city left a tarnished image of Kilgallen as a possible drug abuser and alcoholic.

      New York Post q
    • You Heard It Here First: Trump May Not Propose A Budget Next Year

      The Trump administration is seriously thinking about not submitting a budget to Congress next year . Although the Congressional Budget Act requires the president to submit the fiscal 2018 budget to Congress between January 2 and February 6, Trump could easily say that it was the responsibility of the outgoing Obama administration to comply with the law before the new president was sworn in on January 20. Every in-coming president since the Congressional Budget Act went into effect in the mid-1970s has submitted a budget. Long time federal budget watchers will find Trump’s unwillingness to submit a budget strange because up to now every new administration typically has been eager to submit one in its first year.

      Forbes q
    • NYPD: Men yelled 'Donald Trump', tried to pull off victim's hijab on subway

      18-year-old Yasmine Seweid is recounting the ugly attack that happened on Thursday night. It was around 10 p.m. when the college student jumped on the 6 train to head home to New Hyde Park, when she noticed three young men in the car.

      WABC – NY
    • Kylie Jenner Flaunts Her Famous Curves in Cutout Bikini on Miami Vacay

      Welcome to Miami. Kylie Jenner is currently living it up in the Magic City with her rapper boyfriend Tyga, and you better believe that she has the bikini photos to prove it. The Keeping Up with the Kardashians star shared a pair of snaps on her Instagram account today which feature her rocking a black two-piece swimsuit that has a sexy cutout top and shows off all of her bodacious curves. In the images, the 19-year-old wears her long brunette strands in loose waves as she lounges on a white l

      InStyle
    • After an Alabama toddler accidentally shot and killed his older sister, a family’s wounds run deep

      They have put it off all spring and summer, but now it's autumn and they're out of excuses, so they set out on what should be the most ordinary of chores: to dismantle a trampoline in one backyard and rebuild it in another. "I love you," the 4-year-old boy says as they drive through their neighborhood, just after his mother, who awoke with another migraine, told him to "shut up and sit on your butt or else." "I love you," he says again, a few seconds later, for what seems like the 10th time today, and now no one says anything. His grandmother stares ahead, dreading where they're going. The truck pulls up to a single-story home where, seven months before, a 9-year-old named Kimi Reylander was

      Chicago Tribune q
    • Inside the Alleged Abduction of California Mom Sherri Papini

      Keith Papini details what happened before his wife was found alive.

      ABC News q
    • Hollywood Reacts With Disgust At ‘Last Tango” Rape Scene Revelations

      Actors and other public figures are responding with outrage at recently surfaced news that Last Tango In Paris director Bernardo Bertolucci, in a three year old video that only came to light this week, confirmed what co-star Maria Schneider has long said about the film’s most controversial moment: the brutal rape scene was shot without her full consent. The scene in question featured Brando’s character raping Schneider’s character using a stick of butter as lubricant. It…

      Deadline
    • 15 Tiny Christmas Trees That Make a Big Imact (16 photos)

      If you live in a small home or just want to add on to your main tree, mini Christmas trees are for you. But don't let their tiny stature fool you — they'll add a super-size dose of Christmas cheer to your home. You'll see. From House Beautiful

      House Beautiful
    • 'Broken' Matt Hardy says he will 'delete' Vince McMahon if he is double-crossed on his WWE return

      Matt Hardy has said that he might return to WWE if he is made the right deal. The Attitude Era superstar, however, has said that he is currently focused on TNA, where his wrestling gimmick – "Broken" Matt Hardy – has received praises from both fans and professionals in the wrestling business. Speaking on Ross Report, Matt said that Vince McMahon would love him to return to WWE as his "broken brilliance" currently is the hottest entity in the pro-wrestling world.

      International Business Times UK q
    • New details emerge in Joe McKnight shooting and release of shooter

      After hearing criticisms of his office for releasing the man who admitted to shooting former NFL running back Joe McKnight, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand held a press conference to reveal some details of the case, including that the man who shot McKnight was in his car when he fired all three shots. McKnight was shot and killed on Thursday afternoon in New Orleans. Authorities said that Ronald Gasser, 54, shot McKnight.

      Shutdown Corner
    • DWTS’ Maks Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd Get Kicked Out of Lamaze Class

      It appears Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd might need a little more rehearsal time before bringing home baby. On Saturday, Chmerkovskiy turned on his selfie camera for a confessional about the couple’s first Lamaze childbirth class. “Baby, what just happened?” Chmerkovskiy, 36, asked his pregnant fiancée.

      People
    • Report: Alabama backup QB Cooper Bateman plans to transfer

      Cooper Bateman has thrown for 410 yards and two touchdowns during his time at Alabama. Alabama could be without its backup quarterback for the College Football Playoff. According to a report from Al.com, Cooper Bateman, the Crimson Tide’s No. 2 quarterback, was granted his release from the program last week and will transfer.

      Dr. Saturday
    • Elle