I have been watching the tablet market for quite sometime, but waited until recently to purchase one. When the Kindle HD went on sale I decided to purchase it for two reasons. First is because it has most of the features that I am looking for in a tablet and second because most of my book sales come from Amazon.com (in Kindle format). I bought the 7 inch screen version (the 8.9 inch was not available at the time). I have owned the unit for 3 months and feel, that now, I have enough experience using it to write a review. Part of the reason for taking so long is that I had little knowledge of the Android operating system. Although, I must say that it was not that difficult to learn.
This review is written in three parts as follows:
Part 1 – Hardware features and connectivity.
Part 2 – The android operating system and included apps.
Part 3 – Essential apps and nice to have apps.
The Kindle HD 7 inch version is sleek, lightweight and has a brilliant screen. The overall size is 7.6″ x 5.4″ x 0.4″ (193 mm x 137 mm x 10.3 mm) and weighs only 13.9 ounces (395 grams). Its compact size makes it a great travel mate as it fits easily into a purse or brief case.
Touch Screen – 1280×800 HD display with polarizing filter and anti-glare technology. Video playback is at 720p. The polarizing filter allows the user to look at the screen from any angle without any washout or color degradation. In addition, by laminating the touch sensor and the LCD together into a single layer of glass, the display is easy to view, even in overhead light.
Speakers – Exclusive Dolby audio and dual-driver stereo speakers. Although better than most other tablets, don’t expect sound like you would get from a stereo system. To get the full sound experience the unit should be oriented in landscape position.
Processor – A high performance 1.2 Ghz dual-core processor with Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core for fast and fluid performance. This is not technically a new processor, but has plenty of processing speed for all apps.
Battery – The battery provides on average 11 hours of use. This of course depends on what you are doing. Reading books will result in more hours while playing 3D games will yield in much less. Charging is accomplished in 3 to 4 hours with a dedicated charger (not included). It will take 13 plus hours to charge via the USB port on your computer (cable is provided).
Storage – 16 GB is provided with the unit. You can upgrade to 32 GB for another 50 bucks. I have the 16 GB and with over 50 apps loaded, have not come close to using all the storage memory. I must say that I do not have any videos stored on my unit. So, I can’t comment on how much storage is required for that purpose.
Sensors – Ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope are included.
Additional Hardware– Microphone, 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, front facing camera and USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) port for connection to your computer.
A charger is not included. It will cost you $10 if you order one from Amazon.
A protective case is not included. They are available online and at most all stores that sell electronic equipment. They usually run from between $35 and $50.
A screen protector is not included. These are only a buck or two at most all stores.
There are external buttons for volume and on/off on the side of the unit. They don’t give very good tactical feedback and therefore are difficult to use. I have gotten used to the on/off button, but rarely if ever use the volume button. The volume can also be adjusted via the touch screen.
No rear facing camera. The front facing camera has limited applications. The two I can think of are Skype and self-portraits.
No SD card slot. I am not sure this is required since there is a generous amount of storage. In addition, Amazon provides ample storage on their cloud for things that you don’t want to permanently keep on the Kindle.
No manual provided. A quick start guide is included, but if you don’t know anything about the Android operating system you will have to look elsewhere.
Wi-Fi Antenna(s) – dual-band, dual-antenna 40% faster downloads and streaming. The attenna’s are 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz. Amazon claims that this allows reception or transmission over both antennas simultaneously to increase capacity and reliability. Truth is that most Wi-Fi routers are still at 2.4 GHz so you won’t get the speed benefit until you can connect to a 5.0 GHz router. Therefore, speed is more dependent on the quality of the Wi-Fi router you are connecting to. Supports all the latest protocols and security encryption schemes.
Bluetooth – Allows you to connect to a variety of different wireless accessories such as stereo headphones, speakers, keyboards, and more. I have not used this feature yet, but am looking forward to exploring its capabilities.
HDMI Port – Share your favorite videos and photos on your TV or other display in rich high definition via the built-in HDMI out port. This is a very nice and useful feature, but requires a wire. I am currently looking into a wireless transmitter and receiver that uses this port.
No GPS – would have been nice.
No 3G or 4G connectivity. You will have to purchase the 8.9 version to get that functionality.
Support and Warranty
Supports the following formats – Kindle (AZW), KF8, TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible Enhanced format (AAX), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3), non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, PCM/WAVE, OGG, WAV, MP4, AAC LC/LTP, HE-AACv1, HE-AACv2, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, HTML5, CSS3, MP4, 3GP, VP8(.webm)
Warranty – A 1 year limited warranty is included.
Overall, I am very happy to finally own a tablet (I rarely go on my computer to surf anymore) and have had zero problems with the unit. The 7-inch format is fine, but if I had to do it over again I would have waited for the 8.9-inch display. There are a couple drawbacks to using the 7-inch unit of which I will get into during Part 2 of this review. Stay tuned.