HANDS ON: The Kindle Fire Has Arrived!

kindle fire newsstand

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

Tomorrow is the big day for Amazon as it launches its first tablet, the Kindle Fire.Amazon says it has already sold millions of Fires in pre-order, and plans to make millions more than expected. The hype is there.

But so far, reviews have been pretty mixed.

Click here for hands-on photos of the Kindle Fire >

We got our own Kindle Fire today and spent the morning with it. Right off the bat, a lot of the criticisms from the early reviews appear valid. The new Silk browser is pretty jittery, almost as if the Kindle Fire hardware can’t render web pages correctly.

On the content side though, the Kindle Fire shines. As soon as you boot it up, all your books, apps, videos, and music purchased from Amazon show up. Just tap to download. You also get a free trial to Amazon Prime, giving you access to thousands of Amazon Instant streaming videos at no extra cost.

We’ll have a full review of the Fire later this week. For now, check out our first batch of hands-on photos.

Here's the Kindle Fire box. It's not very attractive.

The back of the box isn't much better.

Compare the packaging to another 7-inch tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The Fire's box is HUGE.

Remove the sleeve around the box and you get this simple Amazon logo. Let's rip it open!

Here's the Kindle Fire. It looks almost exactly like BlackBerry's PlayBook

The power cord is tucked in this little box. No USB cord included. But who needs to sync with a computer when you have the cloud?

What's this?

Ah, a diagram showing us how to get started with the Kindle Fire.

More details on the back. BORING!

Here's what you get: The Kindle Fire and a power cord. Pretty simple.

The back has a rubbery feel, just like the BlackBerry PlayBook.

It's heavier than it looks, but still very solid.

The speakers are at the top. They don't sound too good. Now let's boot it up!

First, we had to select our Wi-Fi hotspot.

Next, the time zone.

That's it! Our Kindle Fire was automatically registered to our Amazon account so it had all our information stored.

Now for a quick on-screen tutorial...

All our books were on the Kindle Fire waiting for us.

With one tap, we were able to download the Steve Jobs biography...

...and pick up where we left off on our e-Ink Kindle.

Photos in e-books look a lot better than they do on the e-Ink Kindle.

The reading experience isn't as pleasurable as e-Ink though.

Thanks to a free Amazon Prime trial, we get access to thousands of streaming videos from Amazon Instant.

But loading takes a while...

Video quality is solid. It's on par with Netflix or any other streaming service.

Albums purchased from Amazon appear on the Kindle Fire too. Just tap to stream. You can also download your music and store it on the Fire.

The Silk web browser feels like a real clunker. Scrolling is extremely slow and jittery. Not what you'd expect from a tablet with a dual-core processor.

Here's the newsstand. Amazon partnered with a lot of big-name publishes to get content ready for the Fire.

We love Wired's iPad app, so let's see how it runs on the Kindle Fire.

Your most recent content shows up in the carousel. Here's the Wired app we just downloaded.

Let's download this month's issue.

Uh oh! Looks like this Wired isn't ready for primetime yet. We couldn't get the issue to download.

Pulse Reader, one of our favourite RSS apps, comes with the Kindle Fire. Looks great.

Amazon's Appstore syncs with the Kindle Fire too. We were able to find all the apps we downloaded to our Nexus S right here. Let's try one!

Fruit Ninja is a personal favourite.

After a quick download, we're ready to play. Same goes for other apps you already own from Amazon's Appstore.

Amazon's app gives you access to Amazon.com. Everything is linked to your Amazon account already, so there's no need to sign in.

It's almost too easy to buy stuff now.

Lady bugs? We'll pass on that one.

OK, enough with tablets already...

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