Amazon Kindle Fire review
- Incredible pricepoint
- Intuitive, innovative UI
- Surprisingly good display
- No Android Market
- Slow performance
- No UK availability
Amazon Kindle Fire: Software and UI
The Amazon Kindle Fire runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but you wouldn’t really know it. Save the back-end stuff, Amazon’s custom skin hides most traces of Google’s familiar OS and tellingly there’s no Android Market (more on that later).
The user interface certainly differs from the norm and it’s a refreshing change. The homescreen takes the form of a bookshelf a la the Kindle readers, with the top shelf featuring your most recently viewed content and those beneath housing your favourite apps.
Naturally these can be customised, swiping between them is a breeze and it looks great in portrait and landscape.
Tabs above the shelves take you straight to your Newsstand, Books, Music, Video, Docs, Apps and Web. It’s very intuitively designed and even smartphone and tablet novices will pick-up the nuances of this device in a heartbeat.
We really enjoyed navigating our way around the Kindle, largely thanks to the handy on-screen home button that takes you back to your favourites and all that recently used content, almost as if it combines a homescreen with a multi-tasking menu.
Amazon Kindle Fire: Performance
However, it isn’t all smooth sailing. The Kindle Fire does suffer a little in the engine room with the 512MB of RAM and a 1GHz dual-core processor meaning proceedings are often, by today’s standards, somewhat sluggish.
The accelerometer was slow and transitions between screens likewise. We often found video playback to be pixilated, there were also regular app crashes to contend with and the advertised battery life of 8-hours sounds ambitious to say the very least.
It was at times like this when we felt encouraged to return to the price point. This was never going to be a perfect device, but the warning signs are there.
Amazon Kindle Fire: Browser
One of the main talking points to arise from the official Kindle Fire unveiling was Amazon’s new Silk web browser.
The company boasts about faster loading times as its cloud servers does a lot of the heavy lifting in the background, storing the cache to regularly viewed content, meaning faster access to your favourite sites.
For a fledgling browser, we’re very impressed with Silk. Pages do indeed load and render very quickly and the tabbed browsing works well. It’s certainly a match for Safari and Firefox mobile.
Double-tapping on the screen instantly zooms and re-renders pages and the pinch-to-zoom functionality is spot-on. At no point did we feel bummed-out about the smaller screen in this department.