The wireless connection also left something to be desired. Amazon talked up the wireless connection at the Kindle Fire HD launch event, and it's still not that great, especially considering the hype CEO Jeff Bezos and his team gave it at the event. Downloading apps and music were slower than expected as well.
Watching movies on the device is a pleasure, though the HD in the Kindle Fire is anything but. It takes a while for the HD to "load," and even then it's not true high-definition. I found myself using X-Ray quite a bit while watching movies, something Amazon included to allow users to find out where they've seen a particular actor/actress before using
database. There's no 16:9 aspect ratio on the device, so watching movies in the letter-box format is an unpleasant feature.
The Kindle Fire HD is the first tablet with
Digital surround sound, and you can definitely notice. The sound on the device is phenomenal, and music easily fills up a whole room without cranking the volume. This is one area where the Kindle Fire HD outshines the iPad and it's noticeable.
Web browsing is on par with other tablets, but nothing to write home about. Amazon's Silk browser has been out for a while, and quite frankly I expected to do more with it, like opening bookmarks.
At $199, Amazon is appealing to value customers who are looking for a good tablet, want to differentiate from the
(GOOG - Get Report)
Nexus 7, and don't want to pay up for the iPad. The $199 price includes an ad-supported lock screen. Amazon later announced users could pay $15 to remove the ads, but ultimately I think this is a mountain-of-a-mole hill issue.
Customers are given one month of Amazon Prime free which certainly adds to the extras Amazon is giving you, but Bezos repeatedly said Amazon was making "the best tablet at any price." While the device certainly has plenty of positives, it is far from being the best tablet in the world.
The Kindle Fire HD is a valiant effort from Amazon, there's no doubt about that. However, I suspect the Kindle Fire HD will have strong initial sales in the beginning, then flame out in the future.
Final grade: 6.5/10
Interested in more on Amazon? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for
Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York