Kindle Fire HD brings advances in relation to the previous model, but also some of the old problems.
By David Pogue
I don’t know what exatatamente are playing in the water troughs at Amazon, but company executives have been a little crazy.
They say the company’s new tablet, Kindle Fire HD, is “the best tablet, regardless of the price” (Note: the unit is only available in the United States).
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Let’s see. Kindle Fire HD doesn’t have camera to take photos (back), has no GPS or voice recognition, or calendar applications. Loses to the iPad in thickness, size and screen resolution, speed, quality of software and applications. Not even close in terms of iPad accessories.
Now, read carefully: the Kindle Fire HD is not a disappointment. Right! Or won’t that Amazon gives the finishing touches on the software.
In the US, the prices are very low. $ $200 the 7 inches, $ $300 by 8.9 inches, $ $500 by 8.9 inches with 3 g connection (which costs $ $50 in the first year and $ $15 per month thereafter). Prices increase by $ $15 if the user wants to remove the ads.
In all cases, the price is lower than that of rivals with equivalent hardware. And the Kindle Fire HD is better than other devices with similar price. The device with 7 inch comes to USA in 24/9 day. Other models will arrive at the end of November.
Amazon’s appliances bring some good resources. The biggest new feature is the HD screen, much better than the first generation screens of tablets from the company.
However, despite the name, the screen does not display HD movies in high resolution. She has pixels for that, but most of them is wasted in black bands, since the format of the screen is different from the one used in movies. And it is not possible to increase the size of the video to fill the screen, as you do on the iPad.
The new Fire also have HDMI outputs. With the appropriate cable (sold separately), you can send audio and video with excellent quality for TVs. Works great.
The sound of Fire is excellent. The appliance has stereo outputs and with much better quality than similar tablets with mono audio output. Battery life is also good, over 8 hours, according to Consumer Reports. Almost all models come with 16 GB of memory, twice that of rivals Google Nexus 7 and Nook Tablet (although the Nook Tablet come with memory card input).
Amazon fixed some of the problems the software first Kindle Fire. The Home screen–a kind of carousel with icons of the most viewed content recently–now move more naturally and quickly. The touch of your fingers now is usually registered on the first attempt.
And read magazines, something before complicated, now is a rewarding experience. Most of the magazines, you can activate the zoom to enlarge the letters or play twice on the screen to let the magazines only with vertical scrolling (unfortunately, some magazines use a navigation system and do not respond to some commands).
The Fires have as main feature tight integration with content from Amazon (books, movies, music, etc.). Movies and books “remember” where you left off reading and, if the user changes his unit, the reading continues from the point where they stopped.
In addition, in the USA, a subscription to a service from Amazon (Prime, by $ $79 per year) entitles you to one free book per year, 5000 movies for free and free shipping on purchases on the site.
Movies from Amazon don’t come with subtitles. Some of them, however, offer a feature called x-ray. It allows you to view biographies of authors in action during the film. Once in a while is nice.
These are some of the positive points of the Kindle Fire HD there is, unfortunately, the negatives.
For example, Amazon boasts have included two Wi-Fi antennas to improve signal quality of wireless networks.
All right. But the navigation on Kindle FIre HD is still slower than on the iPad. In my tests, the tablet of Amazon took a second longer (7 vs. 6) to download the sites of the New York Times and ESPN. This slowness was repeated on other sites, including Amazon’s own.
There is also a front-facing camera, but there are no apps for it. Until someone create an application, you can’t take pictures or record video. According to Amazon, the only application that uses the camera at the moment is Skype.
The most serious of all. Amazon needs to urgently solve the problem of applications. The Fire HD has not yet included applications for notes and alarm, among other basic functions.
According to Amazon, more than 30000 apps for the Kindle Fire. But they do not include many of the most popular. I didn’t think, for example, Dropbox, Flixter, Voxer, Google Search and others.
Finally, there are the bugs. Once again, Amazon seems to have created a still unfinished product for purchases, and a software update later.
Everything is a bit slow at the Fire HD. Some applications take seven or eight seconds to open. The Gmail application is flawed. In the Draw Something, the screen appears upside down and does not rotate. To change page in books and magazines, the appliance produces a blurred image during the transition.
Some tasks require the user to comply with many steps. You can’t open the Favorites list from any page, but only the initial screen of the browser. To reach it requires four steps.
A new extremely useful simply didn’t show up: individual accounts for children, with time limits for each activity (movies, games, etc.). Until next month, says Amazon.
A median device
In General, the tablet is elegant. But he still brings some of the hardware oddities accompanying the Amazon since your first book reader, the Kindle. For example, the small on/off buttons and volume are black like the body of the appliance. They do not bring any identification and are embedded in the body, so are difficult to notice only at the touch of your fingers. If you have to increase the volume, you have to really look at the unit, preferably with a flashlight.
Last week, Amazon also introduced new versions of the traditional reader of your Kindle books, all very good. The Kindle PaperWhite has recessed lighting, as the reader from Barnes & Noble. The Amazon’s model, however, is more elegant and cheap ($ $120, with ads). Kindle now $ basicão $70, the lowest price in the history of the unit. Kindle launched last year can still be purchased, for $ $160 in an enhanced version.
And, of course, there are other small cool tablets from companies like Google, Samsung and, soon, Apple (if the rumors are correct).
But the Kindle Fire HD is good to watch movies, TV shows, books and web pages. The unit is well integrated into the vast body of the Amazon and, above all, it is worth what it costs.
But, “the best tablet, regardless of the price?. Humm. Someone should take a look at Amazon’s drinking fountains.
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