Showing posts with label Amazon Fire 7. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amazon Fire 7. Show all posts

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Fire 7 is still a good secondary or child friendly device

The Fire 7 gets the basics right - a capable device for streaming video content, checking email, reading e-books, listening to audio books etc. In other words, it is an affordable and compact medium to access Prime content and more. Below is a short review of the updated Fire 7 in comparison to the previous generation (released late 2015):
  • Performance is adequate but can be frustrating when multi-tasking, switching between applications and loading content (the device comes with only 1GB RAM); once content is loaded then the Fire 7 generally runs smoothly.
  • Amazon advertise the updated Fire 7 with "higher contrast and sharper text" and this is no marketing gimmick. The screen on the 2017 Fire 7 is better than the previous generation. The resolution is the same but contrast levels and colour saturation are increased.
  • Battery life is slightly better and gets a full day of mixed use. If it is used for reading e-books or listening to e-books then it lasts longer.
  • The device is light-weight, compact and makes a good travel companion.
  • For the same price, the updated Fire 7 gets you more tablet; with this being said, since Amazon slashed the price of the Fire HD 8 late 2016 and again mid-2017, the pricing between the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 makes the latter the better value and choice. The difference between the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 is now only £30 (it is even less when discounted) and for that you get a better processor, larger HD screen, stereo speaker output, longer battery life, more RAM and twice the storage. It is not surprising, considering the Fire HD 8's overall better value, that the tablet is a best seller on 
  • Yes, the Fire HD 8 is the better overall option but the Fire 7 has its use-cases. For example, it is the better option for children or a useful secondary light-weight device to take when commuting or travelling.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Thoughts on Amazon's refresh of the Fire 7 & Fire HD 8

Amazon announced an incremental update to their Fire tablets. The Fire 7, released in Autumn 2015, gets an expected update. Amazon keeps the resolution the same (1024 X 600) but with an improved IPS screen that comes with better contrast and clarity. Other upgrades include a decrease in tablet weight and a bump in battery life to 'up to 8 hours'. Surprisingly there was no Fire 10 HD update, despite the HD 10 being released at the same time as the original Fire 7. The 10 HD also features less prominently on and this might mean it will be gradually discontinued. The Fire 10 HD is priced closer to a mid-range tablet and with more attractive alternative, from other vendors, Amazon may now exclusively target the budget end of the tablet market.

The surprise was in a supposed 'update' of the Fire HD 8, considering the Fire HD 8 was only updated late 2016. Despite Amazon's claim of an 'all new' Fire HD 8, there is no upgrade here and the near identical HD 8 2017 only brings the possibility to use a microSD slot for up to 256 GB of expandable storage. While Alexa comes with the 2017 HD 8, it will also gradually roll-out to the previous generation of Fire 7 and HD 8. In other words, this is a marketing gimmick to attract more users to Amazon Prime, rather than an attempt to convince owners of the previous generation to 'upgrade' their hardware (it may be argued that Amazon does not aim to convince users to purchase their hardware updates since the release of the Fire 7 and focusing on the budget end of the tablet market).

The goal, in this marketed refresh, it appears, is to make the Fire HD 8 even more attractive to first time users by further discounting the price of the tablet. The difference between the entry Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 is now £30 but this gets the user a larger screen, higher resolution, twice the storage (16 GB in contrast to the entry 8 GB with the Fire 7), more RAM, dual Dolby Atmos speakers and significantly better battery life. If the 2016 release was a success, I predict the Fire HD 8 to do even better and attract more users to Amazon's services.

There is no turning back to the more premium HDX line of tablets. The goal now is to get users - in a family-centric approach - to subscribe to Amazon Prime via different hardware mediums. For example, Prime Video is not available, at the moment in the Google Play store, and needs to be side-loaded to be installed. I think this is an intentional strategy to encourage users to access Amazon content via Fire tablets that are meant to offer a user-friendly 'out of the box' integration of the Amazon eco-system.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Review of Amazon Fire 7: A good value second tablet

If you come with the realistic expectations then the Amazon Fire 7 is a good value tablet. In terms of performance, the device runs well for watching films, reading e-books and light games. Fire OS 5.0.1 is an improvement to Fire OS 4.5.5; the carousel, finally, is gone and now you have a simplified interface that looks more like Android. Instead of categories above the carousal (e.g. shop, books, music, videos etc.), you swipe a different screen to access most of the same categories. At the same time, each of these categories appear as an icon, with other installed applications, on the home screen. Also, instead of a carousal for recent activity, there is now a separate screen listing these same activities. Battery life is not bad and with medium to light usage, e.g. reading e-books, you should get the advertised seven hours. An Amazon Prime subscription, which offers more than Netflix, complements this tablet well; it offers access to Amazon Prime content and you can also download Prime content to a SD Card to be viewed offline. There is also integration between the Fire TV Stick and Fire tablets, syncing applications and video content.

Another positive, and this is consistent with Amazon devices, is the identical firmware features across devices. What this means, whether you are using, for example, the Kindle Voyage or Kindle (the entry-level model), the firmware will be near identical in terms of features. The same applies to tablets, with the Fire 7 coming with the same operating system as the Fire 8 HD and Fire 10 HD. In all, the compromises made were just about right i.e. generally good performance, expandable storage and acceptable display. However, there are draw-backs that may have been considered:

(1) The screen is one of the low-end IPS displays that you also find with entry-level smartphones e.g. Microsoft Lumia 535. Understandably, with its low cost, the device will not have the colour vibrancy or accuracy of more high end hardware. Nevertheless, there is some difference between vibrancy and the low contrast and muted colours. Increasing the contrast makes a difference and can help with a relatively low resolution; for example, Amazon's entry-level Kindle, still boasts a higher contrast e-ink screen and this works to offset problems with its lower pixel density. This makes a significant difference and compared to other e-readers, with identical resolution, e.g. previous generation e-readers, the text is more legible and with darker blacks.

(2) The display is 'sticky' and a finger print magnet. For example, a stylus will not glide smoothly on the screen or even register a touch. Something simple like anti-fingerprint coating might help here.

(3) Why the cameras? The cameras, both back and front-facing, are mediocre. The Kindle Fire 7 HD (2013) offered no back camera and, in this case, it would be more justifiable not to include one. A trade-off between a needless camera with improving the display quality would have been the better option.

(4) Scaling - I think this has something to do with the aspect ratio. The device is fairly narrow and this means the scaling is off (the feel you get when you alter the resolution of a monitor from its recommended settings); what results is squeezed text in portrait mode and stretched text in landscape mode (Georgia, for example, comes out the worst in this). The only reason I can think of for the narrow dimension is to do with the intended use of this tablet for Amazon Prime video content. Turning the tablet in landscape, to watch a film, is probably the only thing that works with these dimensions.

With this being said, the Fire 7 offers a lot for its cost. As noted, other than offering identical features compared with Amazon's higher end tablets, there are other perks available. First, there is Amazon Underground - this offers many paid applications for 'free'. There are some good choices here e.g. Polaris Office, Quick PDF Scanner, Monument Valley, ezPDF, Office Suite Pro and much more. Also, as Fire OS 5.0.1 is essentially closed Android Lollipop, then external applications, from Google Play, can be installed on the device. There will be problems with some applications, e.g. Google native ones, that require the installation of Google Play. However, even for that, it is possible to install Google Play and turn the device into a more featured Android tablet. Second, this is also a good educational device for children, more so with Fire for Kids Unlimited. However, in my opinion, something like the entry-level Kindle would be better suited, with its distraction free reading and e-ink display (more healthy for the eyes and easier to read).

Overall, this is a good device for its price and would make a good secondary tablet or as an educational tool for children. It is not the hardware that makes the tablet a sensible choice, it is the all-round developed features and perks offered.