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Can Amazon's Kindle Fire HD 7 outshine Nexus 7, iPad Mini?

Nidhi Singal     July 17, 2013
Price: Rs 15,999
Rating: 4.5/5
Specs: 7 inch display; Android operating system; 1.2GHz dual core processor; 16GB onboard storage, no expandable memory card slot; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; Dolby audio dual speaker; 395 grams

As soon as we opened the box and powered the Fire HD, we fell in love with the hardware. Rarely do we come across tablets that are so finely designed.

The Fire HD 7 in black has got a rectangular design with curved edges with the soft back that award it a comfortable grip. The front has the 7-inch display with 1280x800p resolution surrounded by a thick bezel with the camera sitting on the top centre. There is not much glare on this tablet. Controls have been strategically placed on the right, with a 3.5mm port, volume button and the power key.

Just below the power key is a black strip running across the other side, housing the stereo speakers. The micro USB and micro HDMI are placed at the bottom. There are memory card slots or SIM slots on this device.  

Weighing 395 grams in all, it doesn't feel too heavy to hold. Indeed, the 7-incher is so comfortable to hold that you can continue to walk around with stuff in one hand and the tablet in the other.

Setting up the Kindle Fire HD doesn't take much of your time. Amazon had pre-registered our unit before shipping it to us. So all we had to do was to connect it on Wi-Fi and within a few seconds, all the content we had purchased from the Amazon ecosystem appeared on our device. The books we had purchased earlier appeared under the cloud option. We had to tap on the each book individually to download it to the tablet.

While the Fire HD is an Android tablet, the interface has been completely tweaked and does not have any similarity between the hundreds of Android tablets out there.

It has got a neat home screen with a plain black background and white text. There isn't any concept of application launcher or app shortcuts. The homescreen has got a simple interface with a row for all the preinstalled apps on the top. This includes search, shop, games, apps, books, music, videos, newsstand, audiobooks, web, photos, docs and offers.

Just below the row is a 'carousel', a stack of scrolling items that shows the recently opened items. There is a star that appears at the bottom where our favourites items appeared. When in an app, a set of keys (home, back, search and view) popped up on the screen. There is a dropdown bar notification bar that has got the shortcuts for important settings such as auto rotation, volume, brightness, wireless, sync along with the complete settings menu.

Be it books, emails or web browsing, reading was a delight on this tablet. The text appeared crisp and it has got a wide viewing angle. The colour reproduction was also good. The Silk browser onboard fetched pages at the same speed as Safari and Chrome did on the other tablets. However, sometimes there was a lag and images took some time to load.

Amazon has done its homework before launching the Kindle Fire HD and has a curated app store instead of Google Play with all popular apps. There was a noticeable lag in browsing as well as downloading the apps. But this experience was relatively much smoother while browsing and buying the books. Also, all the content is priced in US dollars and not Indian Rupees. Otherwise, everything worked smoothly on this tablet, be it playing games or typing over the QWERTY keyboard.

Watching movies and videos over the Fire HD 7 was impressive. The sound coming from the tiny speakers was further enhanced when we turned on the Dolby Digital Plus.

Amazon claims to offer an 11-hour battery backup. The Fire HD lives up to the claim as it can lasted us a week with a couple of hours of reading every day. But the battery did discharge quickly when we used it for playing games and watching videos on full brightness.

Good value for money if you love books from Kindle Store.

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