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

    • 'Put up the picture again': Chris Wallace uses photos to confront Trump chief of staff over false crowd-size claims

      Fox News anchor Chris Wallace confronted White House chief of staff Reince Priebus on Sunday over...

      Business Insider
    • No More Boring Cars: Lexus Goes Bold With the LS500 Luxury Sedan

      Lexus comes to Detroit with its bold LC500 luxury sedan. With its sights set on the best from BMW, Mercedes, and Audi, Lexus isn't being bashful.

      The Cheat Sheet q
    • Police stop armed men patrolling Texas neighborhood after viral arrest

      Authorities in Texas stopped an armed patrol and a group of young boys Saturday who said they were out to patrol the streets after a woman seen struggling during an arrest said she didn’t feel safe in her neighborhood. According to Fox 4 News, the support for Jacqueline Craig in Fort Worth lasted about 20 minutes. Neighbors said the group had someone yell through a loudspeaker while others were screaming profanities. They said they were worried the march could’ve become violent. "I didn't find anything alarming myself. I didn't find anything out of the norm. Police officers have guns, but they don't protect," Roderick Smith, a spokesman for Craig, told Fox 4 News. "She said it meant a lot to

      Fox News q
    • Tom Brady wore a giant coat against the Steelers and we loved it

      Sorry not sorry. Tom Brady is trying to keep warm on the sidelines of the AFC Championship in this little big number.Of course, we cannot confirm that this is Brady and not eight children stacked on top of each other pretending to be an adult professional football player.It looks like this contraption has a hood on it, too, so it’s possible he could disappear completely inside, becoming nothing more than a mass of Patriot-themed nylon and polyester insulation. ...

      SB Nation q
    • 'Mariah's World': Mariah Carey Convinces Boyfriend Bryan Tanaka to Stay on Tour with Sexy Lap Dance

      Plus, seven more can't-miss moments -- crowns! weed brownies! homoeroticism! -- from the latest episode of the diva's docu-series.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Trump faces lawsuit for violating Constitution two days after taking oath

      An all-star team of lawyers, including two leading experts on presidential ethics and two of the most prominent constitutional scholars in the nation, will file a lawsuit on Monday challenging President Trump’s ongoing violation of an anti-corruption provision in the Constitution. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, does regular business with foreign governments, presenting them with an opportunity to launder unconstitutional gifts to the president. Although Trump announced at a press conference prior to his inauguration that he would take some steps to insulate himself from his company, Norm Eisen, former chief ethics counsel to President Obama and Richard Painter, who held the same job under President George W. Bush, released a statement saying that these steps are insufficient.

      ThinkProgress q
    • 40-year-old Florida woman accused of sex with teens at her child’s party

      A Florida woman accused of having sex with teenagers is facing additional charges in connection with the same incident. A total of five victims have now been identified, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. Three of them are 16-year-old boys. Jaimie Ayer, 40, was charged with an additional four counts of unlawful sexual activity. The sheriff’s office announced Thursday she was originally charged with three counts of unlawful sexual activity of certain minors. At that time, officials determined there were two victims, 16- and 17-year-old males. All seven counts stem from an incident on Dec. 23 in which the Bradenton woman allegedly was giving alcohol and having sex with minors at

      Miami Herald q
    • Ariana Grande has an actual twin – only, they’re not related at all

      Some people look so alike, we think they’re related, but then we learn they’re not. Did you know that Ariana Grande has…

      Hello Giggles
    • Twitter roasts Trump aide for calling lies 'alternative facts'

      In the world of fake news, now we also have "alternative facts."  On Saturday, President Donald Trump's first full day in office, his press secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference in which he falsely claimed that the previous day's crowd was the "largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period." SEE ALSO: Inauguration crowds are looking puny compared to Women's March crowds Spicer's false remarks instantly became a new meme and sent the internet into a fury. On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, appeared on NBC's Meet The Press , where Chuck Todd grilled the Trump administration for spreading falsehoods on their first full day in office. In response, Conway called the falsehoods "alternative facts." "Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods," Chuck Todd tells Pres. Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway this morning. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/Ao005dQ13r — Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 22, 2017 Yes. Alternative facts. No, you aren't living in an alternative reality, this is real life.  The hashtag #AlternativeFacts quickly started trending on Twitter Sunday morning. Do you want your pilot using #alternativefacts about speed or altitude? — Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) January 22, 2017 President Trump was honored to have Prince and David Bowie perform at his inauguration. Springsteen cried. So jealous. #alternativefacts — Sean Spiceboy Spicer (@DatSpiceBoy) January 22, 2017 I'm using #alternativefacts on my bank loan application tomorrow.    — Robert Graves (@RggnycRobert) January 22, 2017 Wow #alternativefacts. This is so frightening. This is the scariest part of Trumps Presidency. When facts don't matter anymore we all lose. — Tracy Hardaway (@TracyMHardaway) January 22, 2017 I just saw Conway speak about #AlternativeFacts and I'm so completely disgustedNo, the worlds has facts. You don't get to create the truth — Shaun King (@ShaunKing) January 22, 2017 There is no racism. #AlternativeFacts — Judith Browne Dianis (@jbrownedianis) January 22, 2017 So now there is #alternativefacts....Oh.....ok. pic.twitter.com/oVxmLw0hQk — Benjamin Di'Costa (@BenjaminDiCosta) January 22, 2017 I have a mandate from the people. I care about you. I have divested from my businesses.I have the biggest crowds.#alternativefacts — Unpresidented (@UnpresidentedAF) January 22, 2017 In addition to Spicer complaining about the media's coverage of crowd size, Trump also complained during a briefing at the CIA headquarters on Saturday. "We had a massive field of people. You saw that. Packed," said Trump. "I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, they show an empty field. I said, wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out, it looked like a million, a million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there." There is no official estimate of the crowd size on inauguration day, but there are some simple facts to prove it wasn't "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration." According to the Washington Post , the D.C. Metro's ridership was "lower than that of an average weekday." About 570,557 people rode the Metro on Friday vs 1.1 million who rode it in 2009 during Obama's inauguration. According to Nielson, 31 million viewers watched the inauguration on TV, which is lower than both Obama and Ronald Reagan's first inaugurations. Spicer also claimed that magnetometers were used on the National Mall for Trump's inauguration and prevented "hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the mall as quickly as they had in years past." A Secret Service spokesperson told CNN that magnetometers were not used during the inauguration. A USSS spokesperson tells us no magnetometers were used on the National Mall for Trump's inauguration. — Jim Acosta (@Acosta) January 22, 2017 The floor coverings Spicer mentioned, that was also a lie. Or, ya know, alternative facts.  BONUS: Obama 'Hope' artist has a new set of powerful posters

      Mashable
    • Stephen Hawking warned us about contacting aliens, but this astronomer says it's 'too late'

      In 2010, physicist Stephen Hawking voiced concern about the possibility that we might contact...

      Business Insider
    • Wynonna Judd Reacts to Ashley Judd's Women's March Speech

      Wynonna Judd usually uses social media to share news, bits of wisdom and faith, or to have discussions with her fans, but she found herself in a very different position on Saturday (Jan. 21). After her sister, Ashley Judd, took the stage at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., to deliver an impassioned speech denouncing President Donald Trump, Wynonna turned to Twitter to explain her own position at length. Ashley Judd’s speech was one of the most talked-about moments of the day-long march, which according to multiple media reports drew more people to Washington to protest the election of President Trump than his inauguration drew the day before (Trump called those reports “dishonest” during

      Taste of Country q
    • Discarded protest signs from the Women’s March in NYC (28 photos)

      Following the march in New York City, protesters left behind thousands of signs around Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower. Many signs left near a construction site were taken home by admirers as souvenirs. One group of placards was made into an art installation on East 57th Street, while many of these great signs were discarded near receptacles along Fifth Avenue waiting for sanitation. (Yahoo News) Photography by Gordon Donovan /Yahoo News _____ Related slideshows: Slideshow: Signs of the Women's March around the world >>> Slideshow: Women's March on Washington, D.C. >>> Slideshow: Women’s March around the world >>> Slideshow: How newspapers covered President's Trump inauguration >>> Slideshow: Anti-Trump inauguration protests break out in U.S. >>> Slideshow: Protests worldwide against the inauguration of Donald Trump >>> Slideshow: Obama's Washington >>> Slideshow: Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day >>> Slideshow: 66 hands on 66 Bibles >>> See more news-related photo galleries , and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr.  

      Yahoo News Photo Staff
    • Johnny Manziel Is At The AFC Championship Game And You Can Definitely Guess Who He's Rooting For

      ALERT: Johnny Manziel is at the #AFCChampionship. Johnny Manziel had one of the most notorious flame-outs of any first round draft pick in recent NFL history, but he still loves the game. Sure, he grew up in Texas and was employed by the Cleveland Browns, but that apparently hasn’t stopped him from attending the AFC Championship and rooting for the Patriots, according to his Snapchat.

      UPROXX
    • 2 suspects in custody in deadly San Antonio mall shooting

      Two suspects were taken into custody after a robbery inside a shopping mall ended in a shooting that left one man dead and several other people injured, San Antonio police said. Police Chief William McManus ...

      Associated Press
    • Did Karen Pence and Her Blue Dress Steal the Show at the Inauguration Ball?

      All eyes were on the presidential procession during President Trump’s inauguration, and that includes getting a first look at some of the fashion choices of the new first family. However, it was Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, who according to some observers stole the show in a dazzling blue number at the evening inaugural ball.

      Yahoo Style
    • Trump's Press Secretary Falsely Claims: 'Largest Audience Ever to Witness an Inauguration, Period'

      In his first official White House briefing, Sean Spicer blasted journalists for “deliberately false reporting,” and made categorical claims about crowd-size at odds with the available evidence.

      The Atlantic q
    • Carly Fiorina reacts to the Women's March on Washington

      Former presidential candidate suggests on 'Sunday Morning Futures' that demonstrators give the new president time

      Fox Business Videos
    • White House goes to war with the press over dubious claims about crowd sizes

      President Donald Trump's top officials stood defiant for a second day in the face of...

      Business Insider
    • WR Michael Floyd won't be playing in AFC title game after Patriots declare him inactive

      The New England Patriots raised some eyebrows in December when they claimed receiver Michael Floyd off waivers after Floyd was released by the Arizona Cardinals. Michael Floyd stretches during a Patriots practice this month.

      Shutdown Corner
    • Why No One Likes Adam Sandler Anymore

      Sandler's nasty attitude and his constant failures with critics should be enough to kill his career, but even all that hasn't done it yet.

      The Cheat Sheet q