Amazon landed the first real volley in the 7-inch Android device market. Sure, the initial Kindle Fire was rough around the edges, but its shockingly low $199 price tag and integration with Amazon's services won over a few (million) consumers. Amazon sold tons of Kindle Fires in December 2011, and it wasn't long before the device held the top spot on the Android hardware charts.
Shortly after the first Amazon Kindle tablet was released in November, 2011, hackers rooted the tablet and then started installing custom firmware replacing Amazon's firmware with other versions of Android. Now that the 2nd generation Kindle Fire and the Kindle Fire HD are shipping, hackers are finding it a slightly tougher nut to crack.
The 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire HD goes far to correct many of the issues that plagued Amazon's first foray into tablets nearly a year ago. The Fire HD also introduces several tech enhancements over competing tablets, and while in the end the Kindle Fire HD falls short of Amazon's goal of being the best tablet at any price, it does excel on many metrics—and at $199 for the 16GB version and $249 for the 32GB version, it delivers a strong, value-priced experience that's optimized for consuming stuff from Amazon.
It was 10 months ago that we had a doppelgänger in our midst. Amazon unleashed the Kindle Fire to the world and we spent much of the beginning of our review comparing and contrasting it to the (even then a bit long-in-the-tooth) BlackBerry PlayBook. Now, finally, we can stop making that comparison -- at least for this, Amazon's current top-shelf tablet.
When the Kindle Fire first arrived last September, it was in a class all its own. There were plenty of other 7-inch tablets running Android, but none of them were as successful. Sure, Amazon's tablet did most of the same things as competing offerings. Some of those things it did ably, some it did sloppily — but it did them all for $200, less than half the price of the cheapest iPad.
When you handle the new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, you feel as if Amazon's engineers went through a checklist and nuked all of the complaints of the original Fire in an orderly fashion. Battery life not great? It's 11 hours now. Power button too easy to bump by accident? Fixed. No physical volume button? Now there is. Screen not so easy on the eyes? Noticeably improved.
When it comes to competing with the iPad, rivals seem to think price is the best way to grab a consumer's attention at first. And they're probably right. We saw it work last year with Amazon's original $199 Kindle Fire, but a true hero device didn't emerge until Google released its Nexus 7 tabletthis summer.
From the moment Apple shipped the first iPad back in 2010, pundits started wondering when someone else would ship a tablet that rivaled it for overall appeal. The initial wondering, logically enough, focused on hardware manufacturers: HP, RIM, Motorola, Samsung and others.
Online retailer Amazon.com recently debuted new versions of its Kindle Fire tablet. Called the Kindle Fire HD, they include an improved version of last year's 7-inch tablet, as well as Wi-Fi and 4G models of an 8.9-inch Kindle tablet.