A few weeks ago, Amazon had Kindle Fire refurbished units on sale for $139. At this price, the offer to pickup the most popular Android tablet was too good to pass up and I purchased one. While far from perfect, the Fire is a capable Android tablet. The Apple iPad, however, has nothing to fear.
I own multiple tablets including the latest iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, BlackBerry PlayBook and I previously reviewed the Lenovo tablet. The Kindle Fire runs a heavily customized version of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and connects to Amazon’s own app store as opposed to Google’s Play. The tablet has more than a passing resemblance to the BlackBerry Playbook – both inside and out. However, unlike the BlackBerry PlayBook, the Fire has rich set of native applications (Android). I found the Fire to be extremely easy to setup and use as it smoothed over some of rough edges found in other Android tablets. I particularly like “carousel” feature which allows me to easily open recently used applications. The one month subscription to Amazon Prime with free two-day shipping and free online movies and TV shows is also a plus. I am also able to play all of my purchased Amazon music (my favorite music store) on the Kindle.
Negatives include lack of GPS support, lack of Bluetooth support, no HDMI output, inability to install applications from the Google Play app store, uninspired hardware design, lack of a dedicated volume button, built in speakers aren’t loud enough and slow web browsing. However, even with all these negatives, I still recommend it. For $139, you get alot for the money. While it won’t replace my iPad, nor will it replace my Kindle e-ink reader for reading at the beach or in direct sunlight, its size is portable and easier for my kids to hold than an iPad – and less expensive to replace should it be dropped.