For £45, or whatever low price Amazon or Argos are offering this week, you can get yourself a 7″ Kindle Fire tablet. Given that my Kindle Fire HD – a replacement after one which cost nudging £200 was stolen – now has a cracked screen and a dodgy temperament, but as I still have a Prime membership, I decided to give it a go. A couple of weeks on, here are my thoughts.
It should be obvious to anyone that I’m not a techie. Other people can, and will go on about what’s inside this lowest of low price tablets. I don’t care. If you do care then this really isn’t for you. If you’re looking into that sort of thing then you’re almost certainly going to be asking the Fire to do thing it’s going to not do well. Look elsewhere.
I can tell you these things. There’s 8GB of internal storage (it’s actually around 5.7GB once you include everything it needs to run) which can be beefed up with a MicroSD card. You can then choose to store internally or on the card. So simple even I can do it. Right now, with about a dozen radio downloads, five films and a few TV programmes – alongside a handful of apps and a Spotify playlist of 1,300 songs (all awesome) I have 20GB free out of a possible 34. I may never delete anything again.
This is still a closed environment designed specifically for Kindle. But it follows the same logic as everyone else so unless you’re trying to be clever you’ll hardly notice. Apps now appear on a front screen similar to a phone. Access to books and videos is smooth. File storage is straightforward. Notifications and settings can be accessed via a swipe from the top bar. It syncs, easily, to Amazon Prime. It seems better, to me at least, than earlier Kindle Fires at holding onto an internet connection and streaming (I’ve tried in several places) is remarkably trouble free. There are still the same issues that you get an abbreviated version of the Google App store but most mainstream apps are now there. On the day I received my Fire, Sky Go became available. That was a good day.
In terms of what it can do I’ve blasted across FIFA 15 and found that whilst the game is dull the Fire has no issues. I’ve had Spotify or the Radioplayer going in the background whilst tweeting my profound thoughts. Facebook still doesn’t seem to work as well as it should in terms of putting up the posts of others, but notifications are sound. I wouldn’t try anything heavy duty and it really is as far away from a ‘work’ device as you can imagine. You can wordprocess and the like on it but you’ll end up hating yourself and everyone around you. You can also read books, if that’s your thing. The screen does still reflect so this is no Paperwhite or equivalent – but, so far, it’s seems a lot less of a pain in the arse than earlier Kindles.
It’s a light and tight package. All buttons and sockets are on one of the shorter sides. It’s a bit less fiddly than before. It doesn’t feel as robust as some other devices but nor does it feel like it’s going to fall apart if I get particularly cross with Angry Birds (I know I’m out of date but apparently it’s in my ‘Library’ so I dusted it off). Every time I have tried to connect to WiFi it has worked – and worked better than my phone. But then my phone is a piece of crap that will be binned the second I’m eligible for an upgrade. The internet browser is still ‘Silk’ and Bing is the default search engine. But for casual browsing it’s serviceable, pages load up fast and without looking like something last seen in the dying days of Compuserve.
The only criticism I have is that the sound quality that comes out of it lacks a bit of oomph. Or maybe, being sad and middle aged, it’s just that my hearing is going.
Overall for £45 the Kindle does a lot of things very well and for someone like me who has light, simple needs it’s a bit of a no-brainer. If you’d like your tablet to pay proper levels of corporation tax or meet your demanding requirements, you’re probably going to go elsewhere. But that elsewhere is going to cost a lot more. At this price level I just don’t see any real competition for this Kindle Fire.