After quite a few days with my new Kindle Fire 7, I’m now able to comment on what it does really well. There are plenty of places to find more details on its faults and compromises. I’ll likely run another post on those soon. But meantime, here are the pluses I see. And unless and until Amazon succeeds in pushing the name into popular usage, as I outlined here, I’ll continue to call it the Kindle Fire 7.
- Ebook reading. This should be obvious, but let’s get it out the way first. You have the Kindle ereading app itself, with the Kindle OS 5 Bellini launcher carousel set up to push books straight at you. You have any number of other ereading apps, including FBReader and Moon+ Reader, available through a transfer from your Android phone or tablet. And that’s without hacking the Kindle Fire 7 to run other apps off the Google Play Store.
- Cheap ereader. The Kindle Fire 7 now undercuts every actual Kindle device in Amazon’s range. The cheapest, basic Kindle is currently $79.99. And unless you’re absolutely sold on epaper, why would you pay thirty bucks more for a black and white screen when you can have a cheaper, infinitely more versatile experience in color? And your entire Kindle library too? It’s a no-brainer, surely, and has to undercut just about every other ereading device out there in the market too.
- Good screen. That’s a natural follow-on from ereading. Yes, the 7″ IPS, 171 ppi, 1024 x 600 screen isn’t the best on the market. But at $50? It blows away any other tablet screen I’ve seen in this price band. No issues for watching video or playing games.
- Smooth operator. The Kindle Fire 7 is not the most highly-powered tablet out there. However, its 1.3 GHz quad-core processor runs the system perfectly well. And Kindle OS 5 Bellini is notably faster on the device than Android 5 Lollipop has ever been on my aging Nexus 7 2012 tablet. That was a onetime star device, yet it crawls in comparison. I haven’t seen any painful delays in app opening, game loading times, etc. It could have more horsepower, yes. But again, at at $50?
- Port and button placement. At first I thought this was an annoyance. With the power, volume rocker and on/off buttons all along the top of the Kindle Fire 7, I couldn’t dock it in my old charging cradle without turning the machine off. But then, when actually using it with any other stand, the microUSB port is perfectly positioned so you can keep charging the device, in portrait or landscape mode, and still leave it standing by itself. And the volume rocker is nicely positioned for page scrolling while reading with one hand. Ultimately, it’s some good design work.
- Family/child friendliness. As I pointed out earlier, with Amazon Family Library and Amazon FreeTime, the Kindle Fire 7 is ready to push straight into kids’ hands.
- Amazon Prime. I don’t use this service. But anyone who does, and that’s an awful lot of users, will find the Kindle Fire 7 the perfect mobile portal and platform for it.
That’s just an initial roundup. Despite all the compromises, in my view Amazon has succeeded in living up to its own marketing hype, with “an entirely new standard for a low-cost tablet.” Buy and enjoy.