Amazon Fire HD

Thursday, December 16th, 2021

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon released the first Kindle Fire in 2011. The Kindle Fire revolutionized the e-reader industry because it ran a heavily modified version of the Android operating system, and was designed to deliver Amazon and Web content quickly and conveniently to the user. An important bit of information here is that the Kindle Fire was a tablet that runs Android, but it was not an Android tablet in the sense that one might assume.

Fast forward ten years and the Kindle Fire has become one of the most popular families of e-readers. The Fire HD, which was released in 2021, still holds many of the features that made the first Kindle Fire popular, but it has also has grown and improved many of the features that were less popular in earlier generations.

If you want a portable media consumption device, you can’t do better for the price. The $199 price point on the Fire HD is less than half of the iPad 9’s starting price of $429, but you’ll be a little more limited in your app selection than you would be with the iPad or other Android tablets. By default, the only way to get apps is in the Amazon App Store, and even then only the apps Amazon has vetted for the Fire. This was a much more significant issue when the Fire was originally created, but since, Amazon has improved their app store, and now it is nearly identical to the Apple App Store. If there is a particular app that is not available in the app store, Fire does have a USB port, so it should be theoretically possible to install apps manually for savvy users. Not ideal, though if one could side-load the Google Android Marketplace other apps could be installed more easily unless of course Amazon specifically prevents such action.

Reviews of the Fire were initially mixed, though the consensus seemed to be that if you’re looking for a versatile tablet, you should look elsewhere. The original device lacked a camera, bluetooth, GPS, non-wifi internet access, SD card support, effective stereo speakers, and had minimal RAM and storage space. Today, Amazon has added a camera, Bluetooth capacity, although their product will still not connect to 5G internet.

That being the case, I have a phone with those things (including the ability to become a wireless access point), and given the price I’d definitely pick one up for personal use if someone released an ICS-based ROM for it, removing all the Amazon restrictions, though that’s clearly not something the typical consumer would know how or want to do.

The only reason I would personally buy a Fire at this point would be to develop Android apps on a tablet without spending a small fortune. Then again, I haven’t purchased a lot of books or media from Amazon, and it’s really designed to be an e-reader plus. At that, it seems to do quite well, other than a few minor performance problems.

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