The Amazon Kindle Fire HD delivers a lot of bang for your buck, especially if you're already invested in the Amazon ecosystem. But if you're not tied to Amazon and don't need the robust parental controls, reviewers say the Kindle Fire HD's drawbacks make the powerful Google Nexus 7 (*Est. $200 and up) a more enticing option.
Good, but not great. Reviewers are wowed by the Kindle Fire HD's display and sound, but its dual-core CPU sometimes feels sluggish, especially compared to the Google Nexus 7's beefy quad-core processor. However, experts love the all-day battery life.
Is there an app for that? One of biggest drawbacks of the Kindle Fire HD is its app selection; Amazon limits the tablet to its own heavily curated app store, which is a fraction of the size of the overall Google Play Store. On the plus side, available apps tend to be of slightly higher quality, and Amazon Prime subscribers get free access to a ton of content, including e-books and videos. The Kindle Fire HD also boasts superb parental control features.
Yet in its quest to hit a budget price, the Kindle Fire HD omits several nice features. Calling the port selection minimal would be an understatement and a charger costs extra, although you can charge the tablet from an available USB port on your computer or other device via the included USB cable. Advertisements on the lock screen cost $15 to remove. Like the Nexus 7, the Kindle Fire sports only a low-resolution front-facing camera for video chats.
Mostly positive. The Kindle Fire's heavily modified Android interface is a snap to navigate, although the processor's occasional sluggishness tempers reviewer enthusiasm. The highly portable and lightweight 7-inch slate slips into a pocket with ease.
Almost the best. The solid-performing Amazon Kindle Fire HD is one of the best budget Android options around, and if the Google Nexus 7 weren't on the market, reviewers say Amazon's tablet would be the best 7-inch slate available. Still, the deep Amazon hooks and great audiovisual chops make the Kindle Fire HD a great choice for media lovers despite the paltry app selection. Strong parental controls also make it a reasonable option as a tablet for youngsters.
PCMag.com says, "The 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire HD is a great way to consume your Amazon content on a small screen." However, the tablet's locked-down app and content selection -- as well as its average performance chops -- relegate it to second fiddle status behind the Nexus 7. That said, it still earns an overall Excellent rating.
Review: Amazon Kindle Fire HD (7", Wi-Fi), Sascha Segan, Sept. 11, 2012
2. Laptop Magazine
"With its superb display, superior speakers and improved performance, the $199 Kindle Fire HD is easily one of the best 7-inch tablets available," Prospero writes. However, he says the Nexus 7 is still the better option for most people because of its stock Android operating system and larger app selection.
Review: Amazon Kindle Fire HD (7 inch) Review, Michael A. Prospero, Sept. 11, 2012
"The Amazon Kindle Fire HD is the Kindle Fire as it should have been," Franklin writes en route to giving the tablet an Excellent rating. However, he also considers the Nexus 7 a better overall option. The Kindle Fire HD's limited app selection and lock screen ads prove especially bothersome.
Review: Amazon Kindle Fire HD Review, Eric Franklin, Sept. 11, 2012
Johnston also finds the Amazon Kindle Fire HD to be an exceptional 7-inch tablet, but not as exceptional as the Nexus 7. "We'd go so far as to say that if you're not getting a Kindle Fire HD specifically to interact with Amazon's purchasable content, you might be a little annoyed at the way it behaves," she says.
Review: When Your Best Just Isn't Good Enough: the Kindle Fire HD, Casey Johnston, Sept . 18, 2012
The Kindle Fire HD is "a marvel of bottom-line engineering and incredibly clever subsidies," Topolsky says. "It's a really, really good tablet for doing some very specific things." But if you're looking for a complete tablet experience and not just a device for viewing Amazon-pushed movies and e-books, he calls the Nexus 7 and iPad much better options.
Review: Amazon Kindle Fire HD Review (7-inch), Joshua Topolsky, Sept. 11, 2012
"For casual users looking for an inexpensive yet powerful tablet, the Kindle Fire HD should absolutely be at the top of your shopping list," Stevens says in this detailed and benchmark-filled review. "But for those looking to do more, and do more rapidly, the Nexus 7 is still the king of this diminutive hill."
Review: Amazon Kindle Fire HD Review (7-inch), Tim Stevens, Sept. 11, 2012
Credibility: Very Good
Britain's Pocket-lint.com publishes decently detailed reviews that don't include much benchmark testing. After spending several days with the Kindle Fire HD, Hall calls it "a nice safe tablet," but says its shortcomings -- notably the limited app selection -- make the Nexus 7 a better pick.
Review: Amazon Kindle Fire HD Review, Chris Hall, Nov. 1, 2012
The Kindle Fire HD drives users toward Amazon's downloadable wares, says Williams, who calls the tablet "a good buy as long as you can live with the highly simplified, Amazon-focused interface."
Review: Amazon Kindle Fire HD Review, Andrew Williams, Oct. 26, 2012