Saturday, 24 November 2012

Kindle Fire HD - a (hopefully) non-techy review!

For a long time I have been wanting and iPad or the Samsung equivalent. However, with getting married next year neither have been a viable option due to price. When the Kindle Fire was released, I was immediately interested as the price was much more affordable. Before buying a Kindle Fire though, I made sure I weighed up my options and made sure the Kindle would do near enough everything I wanted it to do. No tablet has a great word document feature and all have notes apps but other than that, to me they are all pretty similar. My wonderful fiancĂ© decided the Kindle Fire HD would be my Christmas present this year and although it’s only November, I have it already. Now, we didn’t buy from Amazon as I’m impatient so we got it from Waterstones but the prices are the same.

*I appologise now for the quality of the pictures. The lighting in my room is utter shit!*

Buying options
The Kindle Fire HD comes in two varying sizes in terms of storage. You can either get 16GB or 32GB with prices being either £159 or £199 respectively. At Waterstones, you have no option to buy without special offers whereas you do on Amazon. Prices without the special offers are £169 and £209 on Amazon.  The special offers aren’t really special and really this just means that you get adverts on the Kindle unless you pay £10 more to get rid of them. However, you can pay the lower prices and then choose to opt out over the phone once your Kindle is registered. Due to buying through Waterstones, the ‘special offers’ were already on my Kindle but so far, I haven’t noticed anything too annoying that makes me want to pay to get rid of them.

Size and Design
The Kindle Fire HD has a 7 inch screen which for me is plenty big enough. The size of the actual machine is a little bigger, 7.6 inches, with a black border around the screen. The width is 5.4 inches. On the top middle of the front of the Kindle is a 1.3MP camera which can be used for Skype which is a feature I love! The back of the Kindle has on it the logo, the Amazon logo and some basic information such as ‘made in…’ as well as the speaker grates, one of the left and one on the right. If you hold the Kindle in landscape you will find buttons on the left side. The larger button is for sound (above it the hole for speakers and headphones) and the smaller button is for turning the Kindle on and off. I know many people have said the buttons are hard to find but I don’t find this to be the case at all.

The size and design of the Kindle Fire HD is lovely and I think it looks really nice when in your hands. It looks sleek and sophisticated and nothing at all like the older Kindles so it really stands out.

First time user
I have never owned a normal Kindle or a tablet so I had no idea what to do when setting this up. The cocktails beforehand did not help either!! Basic set up is super easy – all you need to do is turn it on with the button and voila! The Kindle is on. To begin with, you will be asked to put in Wi-Fi information, what language you want and your Amazon email address so the Kindle can be linked to it. That was the easy part. After that I had no idea what I was doing but still, even after a few cocktails, it was not that hard.

On the top of the Kindle screen is your menu, where you will find options such as Books, Music, Docs, Web etc. The menu is text only and runs along the top of the screen where you are able to scroll across to more options. Above the menu is the name of your Kindle, time, Wi-Fi connection information and the battery life bar. In the middle of the screen is your carousel, which is where anything opened on the Kindle will go. There is now a huge scrollable list of everything I have ever opened on the Kindle in the middle of my screen which is damn annoying. You can remove these big icons by pressing down in the middle of them and choosing ‘remove from carousel’ but if you forget to do this much, it will take you ages. In the bottom right hand corner of the screen is a little star. By pressing this, you will be able to see your favourite apps or books etc. To choose favourites for this section of the Kindle, do it in the same way as removing them from the carousel and picking ‘add to favourites’ instead.

Kindle as a Kindle
Although I didn’t only want to read books on my new toy, I did want to do that very much. In the top menu, you can go through the Shop to find Kindle books or you can do so on Amazon instead. You need to set up one click buying for you Kindle otherwise you will not be able to purchase books or apps etc. so this should be something you do quite quickly. As your Kindle is synced to your Amazon account, e-books purchased or downloaded for free will instantly be sent to your Kindle and kept in the books sections.

Now, while downloading and buying books was extremely easy, even for someone half drunk and who had never done it before, I did have some issues. Books cannot be sorted into folders or categories like the can on a regular Kindle. As an organisation freak, who lives for lists, this was not a good thing for me to figure out. Should I ever have a couple of hundred books on the Kindle, it will take me so long to find the ones I want. I would have thought that as a Kindle, this would have been a feature top of the list to keep. However, after having a strop and not wanting to look at more books, I decided to give it another go and ignore the fact I cannot organise my e-books.

While reading a book, you have options such as bookmark, changing the font style and size, go to which is where you can jump to different points of the book, and notes where you can add notes on bookmarked pages. There is also a feature called X-Ray where you can quickly find parts of the book which mention a certain name, place etc. and even find out biographical information. This is a really interesting feature although it doesn’t work on all books yet.  

For NetGalley users!
Before trying to send NetGalley books to your Kindle, you must first add their email address to your trusted contacts list through your Amazon account. It took me ages to figure out why the books weren’t being sent and this is why. Also, any books sent from NetGalley will go in the Docs part of your Kindle, not the Books part. I like this though as it means my review books will be kept separate.

Video and Music
Strangely, the Kindle Fire HD is a really good music player. Songs can either be bought through Amazon and sent to the Kindle or imported from your PC or laptop which is very simple to do. In order to do this, you again go through the Amazon website and into your Kindle settings. The screen tells you exactly what to do and you only need to follow the instructions. Music cannot be imported through Google Chrome though so make sure you do it in Internet Explorer or any of the other web browsers which are supported. Any music bought through Amazon can be stored in your Cloud, which is a way of storing content for free without using up the space on your device. The sound quality is amazing and much better than I had expected. Songs come through very clear and the volume is loud enough without being overpowering.

With the Kindle (with special offers) you get a free months trial with Love Film which begins when you start streaming your first movie. The picture quality, much like sound quality was much better than I had expected. Obviously, to stream films you need a Wi-Fi connection. If you have a slow internet connection you could suffer from buffering problems although this is not something I have experienced yet. Films are great to watch on the Kindle Fire HD and while I thought the screen would be too small, it isn’t. Just think of those portable DVD players you can buy, this is very similar to their sizes.

The Kindle Fire HD, powered by Andriod 4.1, makes it much like a mobile phone. Through the Shop part of the menu, you can search to your heart’s content for fun games and apps to download. The Apps store has a wide variety of games to download such as Angry Birds and The Sims as well as things like a notepad, calculator etc. The range of apps is fantastic although in the same way with phones, be careful which you choose as some are crap while others are great. Read the reviews if you aren’t sure about the quality of an app. 

Any apps downloaded or bought can be found in the App part of the menu or if recently used, in the annoying carousel. Like books, you cannot sort these into any kind of order and are pretty much shown like they are on bookshelves and you need to scroll through to find the ones that you want. While playing games etc, I have found the Kindle to be quick and efficient with loading and I was very impressed. I was expecting some things to lag a little bit while loading but no problems with this so far.

Other bits and pieces
As I said earlier, as a tablet, the Kindle Fire HD does a hell of a lot for the price. You can go online to your favourite websites through the Web function, go on popular social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook (as well as getting the apps) but you can also read magazines or upload all of your photos from Facebook onto the device. As you can see in the picture, your photos will be shown in different sizes although you can view the full size photo by pressing on it. 

When you buy the Kindle, you do not get a mains charger. Instead, you have to charge through the USB cable supplied which is a massive pain in the arse. Charging takes ages, especially if you are using your Kindle and then, it will barely charge at all. This also means leaving your PC or laptop on whenever you want to charge the Kindle. There are non-Kindle chargers available on Amazon and I will be getting myself one pretty quickly.

Covers are a must!! I have a lovely purple cover for my Kindle but I paid an insane price for it in Waterstones because I was impatient and couldn’t wait for one to come from Amazon, where they are available for a much better price (non-Kindle branded covers anyway). Without a cover, your Kindle will get scratched quickly and I wouldn’t advise taking it anywhere without a cover, especially if you are putting it in a handbag.

Final Thoughts 
While there are a few little niggles I have with the Kindle Fire HD, they aren’t enough to make me regret getting one. Ok, so it takes a while to charge – this can be fixed with a plug charger. The books cannot be sorted – fixed by deleting from the Kindle and being kept in Cloud storage on the Amazon website once you have read the book. This tablet has so many good features to it and considering the price, I am so glad I (or my fiancĂ©) never splashed out for the iPad or Samsung Galaxy.


  1. Ooh this is such an awesome post - I'm glad you decided to write it! I use the Kindle app on my iPad now my Kindle's broken but the Kindle Fire really does look great. I didn't even realise it came with a camera for Skype!x

  2. Very helpful post! Thank you for getting to the nitty gritty and not using tech terms. Glad that despite a few niggles it's everything you hoped for. If I do get a tablet it will be the KindleFire :)

  3. Really useful post, I have an older Kindle but this was the one I was waiting for!

  4. Great review! Your fiance sounds lovely :)