Amazon Kindle Fire review: Midnight oil

GSMArena team, 17 February 2012.
Pages: 123456

Poor connectivity

The Kindle Fire offers very limited connectivity - Wi-Fi is the only thing you get. There is no GSM/3G support, no Bluetooth, no GPS and no FM radio. There is no card slot either.

The connectivity port is a standard microUSB one and works and charges with every microUSB cable. There's Mass Storage mode that allows you to transfer multimedia content or documents to the tablet. Just don't go looking for your uploaded videos in the Video category, they are instead all found in the Gallery.

The 3.5mm audio jack is another option worth mentioning.

Silk web browser

Kindle Fire uses the Amazon's own Silk web browser that should in theory behave better than the Android's default one and should render the web pages faster.

Visually, the Silk browser UI is much similar with the default's one - you got an address bar which disappear after you start scrolling. Tabbed browsing is available and works as on every other tab-enabled web browser.

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The Silk browser

The performance isn't that impressive as Amazon has promised - pinch zooming and panning might be choppy some times, though nothing annoying. Since the Amazon's servers are handling most of the browser work, optimizing the whole content with various algorithms (whether it's image compression, ad caching, etc.). In the end you get fast enough page load times but nothing that impressive. If you turned Flash on, it will slow the loading time a lot.

On a positive note, the Silk browser is the second-best device we tested so far in the SunSpider and BrowserMark benchmarks. It scored 2473ms - almost three times better than the top Android smartphones, but was beaten by the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus tablet. The BrowserMark score also topped the charts with 89723 points - just 3000 points behind the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus.

So, despite the promises, the Silk browser works as it should, but fails to impress. It's not bad, but it is not excellent either. It's good and gets the job done.

The Silk browser supports Flash and watching 720p Flash videos or playing Flash games is no problem. The Flash performance is similar with the one on the Samsung's Galaxy Tabs.

We've seen better performing browsers on tablets, but we've seen worse too. If it was any other tablet, we would have been harder on it. But the Kindle Fire is cheap and there is nothing really wrong with its browser, so we have nothing more to ask.

E-book reader and Newsstand

This section should be the most important part of Kindle Fire review. The book library offers sorting by author, title or recent. You can browse the books on the Amazon's Cloud (those you bought) or the ones you've uploaded on your device.

The reader app has all the settings you may need just a tap away - font (Georgia, Caecilia, Trebuchet, Verdana, Arial, Times New Roman, Courier and Lucida), font size (8 settings), line spacing, margins and color mode (black on white, white on black, brown on ocher).

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The e-reader app

Search is available too.

Scrolling through pages is done with left or right finger swipes, there is no option to change that.

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Changing the color scheme

The sync with your Amazon account is automatic, so your books will always open where you left them (unless you are not connected to a Wi-Fi network). That can be kind of a nuisance.

The Newsstand does exactly the same as the Book stand - it holds yours digital newspapers and magazines. It offers similar reading options as well.

Amazon Kindle Fire
The News Store

The Docs section holds all your docs and uses the same reader app as the Newsstand and Books.

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Pages: 123456