Amazon Kindle Fire review

Jonathan Bray
24 Nov 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Some limitations, but the Kindle Fire offers a lot for not much money



8 in 600x1,024 display, 400g, 1.2GHz TI OMAP4430, 1.00GB RAM, 8GB disk, Android 4.0

With all the fuss surrounding the launch of the Kindle Fire HD, it would have been easy to miss the fact that Amazon also announced another, cheaper Kindle Fire tablet. One with a less impressive spec list and lower resolution screen, but a slightly lower £129 price.

Amazon Kindle Fire

In fact, the standard Kindle Fire is an upgraded version of the tablet that has been selling so well in the US for the past year or so, but never made it to the UK. The tablet has a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, up from the 1GHz and 512MB of RAM of the original Fire, and it makes a big difference to performance.

In the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, the tablet managed a score of 1,767ms, up from around 2,500ms, and the whole interface feels much more pleasant to use. It must be noted, however, that as with the Fire HD, panning, scrolling and web browsing in the tablet's integrated Silk browser still isn't as smooth as it is on Google's Nexus 7.

Physically, the Fire is identical to the previous tablet, but that's no bad thing. We're not talking Apple iPad Mini levels of sophistication; the tablet is a fairly fat 11.5mm thick, and weighs a rather dumpy 400g, but its blocky, rubbery rear feels very solidly made.

Amazon Kindle Fire

It also has the same lower screen resolution of 1,024x600 as the old model, which means text, images and video don't look as crisp as they do on the likes of the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. However, IPS technology ensures viewing angles are good and the brightness is enough at a maximum of 415cd/m2 that you'll be able to read your books comfortably in most locations. We were impressed with the contrast ratio of 847:1, which makes for vibrant colours.

Don't expect to be able to read comfortably on the beach in full sunshine, though – only an E Ink screen is easily readable in those conditions. It's also important to remember that, as it isn't an E Ink device, battery life won't run into weeks and months. We had trouble with our usual battery benchmark but it managed well over five hours when streaming video from LoveFilm (see below).

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