Welcome to my unboxing of the new Kindle Fire HD. If you don’t know me, I’m an Android product designer and developer of FrostWire for Android, been an Android user for the last 3 years, as a developer I’ve had the opportunity to try lots of different Android phones and tablets and this year I got fed up with the shitty experience of all the Android tablets and became an iPad 3 owner.
I’ve bought this Kindle Fire HD hoping that Jeff Bezos and his teams have finally made an Android tablet experience not meant for early adopters or developers willing to withstand a shitty experience, a tablet taking into consideration the average Joe and what they expect a tablet to be like.
So far I can say that I’m not disappointed, join me on this unboxing and see if you agree with my first impressions of the product, my suspicions of why Apple had to go against Steve Jobs wishes and release a 7 inch iPad (iPad Mini) ended today as I tried the Kindle Fire HD.
There it is, and you can’t help but pull that arrow, they play with our curiosity to force us to read the only physical instructions that come in the box, they didn’t waste any resources on printing warranty sheets or manuals.
They kept it short and simple, simple diagram to let you know about the HDMI, USB ports, headphone/input (input?? hmm), volume and power buttons. Need help? go to the kindle support website.
I don’t know the previous generation of Kindle tablets, but every other Kindle reader I’ve owned comes with a white USB cable, this one is surprisingly black, like everything from the packaging to the user interface of the device that you will soon have a chance to see.
The speakers, which I think were placed at the wrong spot, right where you rest your hands. Surprisingly unless you squeeze the tablet, the sound is not horrible if you have your hands covering the speakers.
For some reason I thought the device would be squared, but it’s all rounded and feels good in your hands.
Here’s a side by side comparison with the iPad 3, you can notice something odd and it’s the placement of the camera, it seems as if they wanted you to hold the device horizontally when you are having a conversation.
The device doesn’t have a camera in the back, it clearly wasn’t meant to be a camera, it was meant to be a telecommunications device. I suppose their thinking was that you’re probably going to be talking to other Kindle Fire HD users or people using Skype on PC and it sucks to have that black padding when someone talks to you holding a phone/tablet vertically.
Hello HDMI and Micro USB ports! No need to buy converters to hook up to your TV, that’s pretty awesome (unlike with the iPad which makes you shell out a few bucks if you need to hook it up to a TV or projector)
Here’s the first lock screen, the first time around they made sure not to show you any ads, but you will see them later, I hope there’s a way to turn them off, but it’s a reminder of how this device is meant to be Amazon’s salesman.
I already had setup my Twitter account on my Kindle reader, it was nice not having to do that, however I had to connect my Facebook account, which has made the device’s photo app really cool from the start, all my Facebook albums were synchronized later in the background, thus tying me to the device, no other Android tablet I’ve had ever did that. More experience points for the Kindle Fire HD.
This was a new one for me, I was already a pretty happy Amazon Prime subscriber from the beginning, and they just keep adding more perks like this one, No due date book borrowing (on over 180,000 titles), how do you compete against Amazon?
btw, if you haven’t tried Amazon Prime, you can give it a try for free for one month, just be warned you’re very likely not to ever cancel the membership, it’s just too good to be true.
Here’s finally the home screen, content is the star, displayed to us with a carrousel component, the first thing shown to us is a welcome letter by Jeff Bezos, it’s addressed to me “Dear Angel”, lets me know how awesome the device is and how it has access to “over 22 million apps, games, movies, TV shows, books, magazines, songs and more.”
Always below the main carrousel there’s related items shown at the bottom, a signature feature that we can easily recognize from the amazon.com website, on this screenshot we can see where those manuals that were not in the box were.
As a developer, the first thing I wanted to try was our app, App search was incredibly fast, I didn’t finish typing when I was already looking at the FrostWire logo on the screen.
We could see an old version of our app, I must complain here as an Android developer, Amazon’s app update process is extremely slow, and after a few updates we stopped sending them the updates.
Now that the Kindle Fire HD is here we’ll try our best to keep our app up to date with on the Amazon App store.
The App was installed without issues. At this point I couldn’t help to think about Nokia and how stupid they’ve been by not releasing a single Android device, we didn’t have to rewrite our app and we’re going to be on millions of Kindle Fire HDs from day one.
Notice how related apps are shown at the bottom of the screen. They basically make their Android market part of the experience so you buy more more more.
At this point I wanted to uninstall the old version of FrostWire and see if I could install the .apk file directly from FrostWire.com, touching and holding on the icon revealed the functionality shown during the wizard, and yes, no need to go to Settings > Applications and then searching for the app to delete it, I could remove it right there from the home screen just like on the iPad. FINALLY SOMEONE GETS IT on the Android camp.
It then took me a while to find the web browser, I kept looking for it as an App, but they have “Web” as a top category on the home screen and it’s not visible unless you scroll to the right, it’s actually on the 9th place, it’s almost as if the web was a secondary citizen on this tablet, they def. care more about you shopping for content rather than spending time browsing the web on it.
When I could finally download the latest FrostWire .apk I hit the first obstacle, but unlike Apple’s iOS they let you go to settings right there, without getting lost so that you can install apps obtained from outside their AppStore. Thank you Amazon for letting us install whatever we want on OUR devices. I still have no clue why Apple hasn’t been hit with a massive class action lawsuit for this limitation on the hardware you’ve paid for, it’s almost as if you were renting the iPad and being treated like a retard.
So let’s read a book and let’s compare with the iPad 3 retina display…
and then I saw something that was really unexpected, when you put a Kindle Fire HD next to the iPad, you immediately realize the iPad screen is not capable of displaying a pure white, it has a hint of pink in it, very disappointing as an iPad owner. Hopefully you can notice it in this picture.
Let’s go to Google, maybe it was Amazon’s evil design of their Kindle for iPad app to make iPad look bad… same thing. Google.com’s background looks way whiter on the Kindle fire, I can’t help to see how pink it is on the iPad (it’s way more noticeable in real life if you put them side by side)
This is a zoom-in on the browser to appreciate font rendering on the Kindle, look at the letter “w”, it’s pretty hard to see any aliasing but it’s there, it’s no retina display, still pretty good I’d say.
And here from left to right for a comparison of the white screens I’ve put a Galaxy S3, the iPad, the iPhone 5 and the Kindle, the purest white of all goes to the iPhone 5, followed by the Kindle Fire HD.
And that’s it, let me know if you have any questions or things you’d like me to test on the device I’ll be happy to assist you.
Update (1 week later [Nov/6/2012])
This tablet will be your best friend in bed, I’ve not needed my iPad at all when I’m in the bedroom.
I’ve also stopped using my regular Kindle. I’ve yet to measure battery life with a full day’s use, since I mostly use it at night it lasted me almost all week without charging.
The web experience is comparable to that of the iPad, it’s pretty comfortable, the feel of the touchscreen is the best I’ve had on any android tablet.
Killer apps like Instagram are not on the Android market, but this is the fault of Instagram which might have decided not to make the app compatible with the Kindle Fire HD since it has no backside camera (only a frontal which works well with Skype), still there’s other apps that will let you browse Instagram feeds (sorry, no uploading pictures you’ve saved from the web unless you manage to get the instagram .apk and install it manually)
Something that really annoys me is how hard it is to find the unlock and volume buttons when I’m in the dark. The designers didn’t really think of a tactile hint or an easy way to find these. It’s a pain if by mistake you start playing a loud video in the middle of the night with your lights off, it’ll take you a while to find the volume controls and you will wake people up.