This is a review of the Kindle Fire with 7″ Display and Special Offers by Amazon. In short, this is a tablet/eReader that a lot of people will want, as long as certain needs are extant and certain expectations understood. I have one, and I’m very happy with it. It would take very little convincing for me to get a second one.
One of the main reasons to give serious thought to getting one of these is the fact that it will put you back a mere fifty bucks.
Don’t expect a brilliant tablet for fifty bucks. You may want a nice full blown Android tablet, or if you prefer, an iPad. That will cost you several hundred dollars, and may be worth it. The Kindle Fire reviewed here is not that.
This Kindle tablet has a processor that is slower than the faster processors, has a screen resolution about 20% lower than good quality typical tablets, and moderate but not overwhelming graphics capability. If you are going to rely on a tablet, use it all the time for all the things one might use a tablet for, get a Google Pixel C or, if you don’t have $700 bucks, the also awesome Google Nexus 9.
Don’t get the Kindle Fire with 7″ Display and Special Offers to be THE tablet in your life. But, if you read Kindle books, and you want an eReader that is tablet-like (rather than electronic paper), consider a device that is 50% as fast as something that is so fast you can’t tell how fast it is, 80% as crisp, but only 10% of the cost. Seriously, at $50, instead of $400 or $700, this is worth consideration.
I don’t actually own an up to date super tablet. Rather, I have a phablet, a super phone (one of the most powerful out there) which is huge, and acts like a tablet well enough. For watching videos and reading eBooks using the Kindle reader, I have an iPad 2, which is essentially brain dead as a tablet (since it will not run the newer operating systems in any realistic way) but works OK for these two tasks. Adding the Kindle 7″ eReader, which happens to be an Android tablet, made a lot of sense for me, especially because the iPad 2 actually doesn’t work all that well as a Kindle reader.
Upsides and downsides
The display is fine. I tend to read with larger than average font size, and in that area I don’t see any problem with the display resolution. If I had some masochistic need to read books in a tiny tiny font, I’d want a super high resolution display, but that is not me.
When I put my finger on the display, say of a web page, and scroll, I can see some jumpiness on the screen that I would find annoying if this was my main way of using the internet or doing other tablet or computer related things. But the Kindle eReader not scroll, it pages. And, by the way it pages fast, like it is supposed to, not when it feels like it, like the Kindle Reader operating on an old iPad 2 does.
This is not the ancestral unadulterated Android operating system. And, let me say, that in my opinion, your phone and your main tablet (if you have an Android tablet) should be plain vanilla Android, and not some storage-killing absurdly designed version of the Android operating system like this one. And, the Kindle tablet I’m talking about here is not that. It is an Amazonoid version of the Android operating system.
I think you can install Google Play Store on this tablet, but it does not come by default. Rather, you use the Amazon app store. The Amazon App store is roughly as annoying as the Amazon Prime Video interface, in that it never occurred to anyone at Amazon to organize things in a way that makes sense. But, you can actually get much of the software the Google Play Store has, that you would ever want, on Amazon once you dig past the games and fluff. Also, many apps on the Amazon App store are free-er or cheaper. And, if you buy stuff from Amazon generally you may occasionally be getting credits (=money) that you can use for buying things like apps.
If you like Amazon Music (I don’t use it) or audio books, or Kindle eBooks that talk, etc., then this this tablet should serve you well.
The interface is a bit different than a regular tablet. Again, if you are looking for The Tablet to do Your Stuff, the interface will be a bit annoying. But if you want a machine that handles mainly ebooks or some other Amazon products like music, movies, etc, then this interface will be excellent for you. The interface scrolls/pages up and down within a given realm of stuff, and back and forth to go between apps, books, video, music. etc. (see the picture above). Amazon related things are bigger and up top. Once again, this device is best for, and good at, interfacing with Amazon.
And yes, generally, you can install and use Android apps of various kinds, so you can have a web browser, calculator, etc. etc. You can use this as a tablet, but the best use is probably to do some tablet-like stuff along side your Amazon focused stuff.
The cameras are mediocre.
The tablet has a descent amount of storage. You can add a micro-SD card. You can not put Amazon books on the micro_SD card but you can download movies from Amazon Prime to it for watching off line. You can have some (many, most) of the apps run off the card. You can put photos and videos you take with the on board cameras there as well. The micro-SD slot will handle a 64 gig card.
One area I intend to use this device is for bird books. Bird books are too small on a phone. Tablets are too big to carry around in the bush, or on a boat. But bird books that are either apps or that are actual e-books work well on this larger-than-a-phone device, which is still easy to carry it around. I am not likely to drop the Kindle Fire into a swamp. But if I do, I’ve dropped a $50 device, not a $500 device, into a swamp.
But is it a piece of crap or a well built machine?
The tablet seems well built. Maybe it will survive being dropped in to a swamp. We’ll see!
I looked through many of the comments on the device on Amazon, to see what other people thought of it. The comments were divided mainly into two categories. Most were saying pretty much what I’m saying here, that the tablet is great for it’s specified uses, given the price. A smaller number of comments hate it, but it seems like almost all of those comments are about broken tablets. So if you get a broken one, it will be, well, broken. Send that one back!
This could be great for kids
I’m just starting to experiment with this, but it has promise. You can set up individual accounts on this Kindle so different people in your family can organize their books and stuff separately. But even more interesting, you can set up a kid version of an account, that is isolated from the rest of the system by a passcode.
I will be setting up an account for Huxley, to see if it works for him. He only barely reads so far, but there are kid’s games and learning tools that he will enjoy. The screen size of this Kindle is the same as his LeapFrog device, and he is quickly outgrowing the LeapFrog. Also, this may be a good transition into regular reading, since it can have regular books. I have mixed feelings about getting a kid reading into eBooks right away, but for some things it will be appropriate.
And that is probably why I’ll get a second Kindle Fire 7″. For the kid.
There are a few other reasons to own an Android tablet that have little to do with normal uses of tablets. Like running an Arduino Android shield. I assume the Kindle Fire will work for that, and if I ever do that I’ll let you know!
The Special Offers
Obviously this is not a $50 tablet. It is probably a couple hundred dollars worth of tablet made cheaper by the fact that Amazon wants you to be a Kindle user, and Amazon eBook reader. Then, on top of that, this version of the table throws on ads, otherwise known as “special offers” to bring the price down to fifty bucks.
So, what are these special offers? There are only two things you need to know about them. First, they only show up on the home screen when the device wakes up after being turned off. Second, you can elect to limit them to be family/kid friendly. I’ve not chosen that option and have not seen anything non-kind friendly, so that may not be necessary.
The Special Offers are easy to ignore unless you are totally paranoid and walk around saying “you are the product, you are the product” all the time. If you are already reading eBooks, and using the Internet a lot, you are already part of the Borg and this tablet will change nothing.
But, if you want to get rid of the ads or not have them to begin with, you can just pay $15.
Should you buy a Kindle Fire 7″ tablet with special offers for fifty bucks?
I’m reccomending this this Kindle Fire tablet and eReader for a lot of people, noting that the risks of being wrong are small, and there are many potential uses. If you have a need for a Kindle reader right now and aren not committed to ePaper, even better. If you lack a larger tablet or you have a tablet that sucks anyway, yet another reason. If you have a concern that your expensive eReader is going to be trashed because you are going on a long and dangerous trip or spend a lot of time in swamps, get one. If you want to experiment on your child with a tablet, this is a good way to do it cheaply. If you are hobbyist who wants an inexpensive Android tablet this may (or may not) be good. (If you take it in that direction, let me know how it goes).