Kindle Fire HD - Most Advanced 7" Tablet (Part 1)

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How exceptional is the new generation? While the original Kindle Fire brought many impressions, there is only one thing that made it considerable: it was cheap. However, when we touch the 7-inch, 720p Kindle Fire HD a few months ago, we had to admit honestly it was such a nice device – which appeared to be cheap. So, what do we have here? It is relatively the larger version of that similar tablet, but its price was surprisingly higher.

It is the Kindle Fire 8.9 whose diagonal is even under 2 inches larger but the starting price is up to $299 for 16GB model, $100 more expensive than the cheapest 7inch Fire HD. However, with the LTE 32GB version, we started testing at a rather more costly: $499. It exceeds the line of cheapness, but still offers a bargain? Let’s join us for a check.


Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Opening the box containing Kindle Fire HD 8.9, you can find that it looks and feels identical to its 7-inch predecessor. Of course fairly larger, but it is supposed to be indistinguishable based on their designs – even in the subtle lines at each of the four corners.

Its horizontal and vertical dimensions are indeed increased to make room for the LCD IPS 8.9 inch screen. The tablet size is 9.45x6.5 inches (240x165 mm) across but it seems to be slimmer than the 7-inch model: 0.35 inch vs 0.4 inch (8.9 vs 10.3 mm). It is good that Amazon did not make it thicker by any chance, but you will actually find problems in recognizing the differences. However, you will recognize the weight increment: 20 ounces vs 13.9 ounces (567g vs 395g)

As on the 7 inch model, the design language Amazon has deployed really inspire us a lot. It obviously darkish, with a soft-touch matte black backing, lived up by a slightly glossy array that runs along the edge. The brand on the machine is interestingly small, the Amazon logo is printed ingeniously on the bottom and “kindle” is embossed on the shiny brand.

The product’s outlook

The product’s outlook

The glossy band runs from one speaker to the other, which looks like the connecting stereo speakers that seldom cause disappointment on tablets. Unfortunately, they are located in wrong side of the device, unlike Nexus 10 which points at the right direction. Each speaker is protected by a slotted grille, but it is curious that these slots are shorter than those on 7inch Fire HD, and not cover the sides as far. It makes them look not as interesting as the smaller Fire, but it is still a good approach.

There is dark-color band made of more durable material around the rim of the device. All physical entrances and exits here are easy to find. On the top of the right-hand-side edge is the 3.5 mm earphone jack, which lies right above the volume rocker and power button. We still hope they would be a little more notable. It should be kept in mind that this is still such a huge enhance compared to the original Kindle Fire, which is completely lack of physical volume controller.

At the central bottom are the micro – USB ports and micro-HDMI, which are separated by the similar gap as on the 7 inch model, offering an output for video and the charging dock would work with both. Between these ports stands a tiny microphone opening, which is up on the top of the smaller Fire HD. There is nothing to discuss on the left side and on the top edge you will find a pop-out tray where laying the micro-SIM tray – assuming that you have chosen the LTE that we tested. That is the only difference between the Wi-Fi and mobile model, with the exactly same dimension and weight.

Inside accessories and configuration

The accesories

The accessories

Kindle Fire HD owns much similar stuff to its 7 inch predecessor, including the dual-core OMAP processor. This is the 4470 model operating at 1.5 GHz – enhanced 300 MHz compared to the other model. There is no advertisement from Amazon that mentions its RAM, but a system test result shows its RAM is 770MB. In terms of storage, the default configuration of the $299 model has 16GB built-in, while with $70 more, that number reaches 32GB.

A model LTE is available, starting price at $499 for 32GB model. You can also pay $100 more to own a Fire HD, 64GB version with LTE. Of course, all of these things have included Special Offers. The on-screen advertising made us very inconvenient, but you can absolutely get rid of it by paying $15 more in front and then the machine would be taken out of the box without any advertising.

The Wi-Fi only model includes the same MIMO wireless style that we found very impressed on the Kindle Fire HD 7 inch, providing better range, reception and performance than other tablets and smartphones that we tested. The 4G LTE model enhances them with a mobile AT&T radio, which might fall back to the HSPA+, HSDPA and EDGE network in the worst case. (for people who are curious about these bandwidths, they include: LTE 17, 4; WCDMA 1, 2, 5, 8; GSM 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800MHz and 1900 MHz)

The price of $499 is somehow expensive for a Kindle device, but at least you have a non-contract LTE tablets which have rights to approach one of the attractive prepaid data in your hand. Pay $49.99 ounce and you can access to the data for a whole year, with 250MB each month. Pay for that money, Amazon will offer you another 20GB of Cloud Drive storage, or even give you $10 to purchase freely in Amazon Appstore. Admittedly, that storage volume is too moderate, but for normal users who enjoy watching news and email along their ways, or downloading e-books sometimes, it is still adequate.

This means, you are not free to use those data as you like. Downloads which are more than 50GB in size must be conducted over Wi-Fi, and at this moment,  Amazon Instant Videos can only be streamed when you have the Wi-Fi connection. However, we are told that, it would be activated within 12 months, but film downloading still just happens over Wifi.

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