Photo: liquene via flickr
Amazon introduced its new Kindle Fire HD tablet at an event in Santa Monica, CA yesterday.It’s clearly a huge step forward from its Kindle Fire tablet last year, boasting plenty of new features and a very attractive price point. (The 7-inch model starts at $199).
But is it for you?
Well, you can pre-order the Kindle Fire HD right now, but before you do, here are some questions to ask yourself.
The Kindle Fire HD is pretty much married to the Amazon ecosystem. You'll get an Amazon Prime trial, easy access to Amazon shopping, access to all your Kindle e-books, the Amazon Appstore for Android, and plenty more Amazon-specific features.
If you're already an avid user of Amazon services, this tablet makes a lot of sense for you. But if you're already tied into Apple's or Google's content ecosystems, you should probably consider another tablet.
The Kindle Fire HD's screen is nice, but when it comes to the straight-up pixel count, the iPad has it beat. The Kindle sports a 1920x1200 resolution to the iPad's 2048x1536.
Amazon decked its tablet out with two Wi-Fi antennas, and the device is smart enough to switch to whichever one is getting the better signal. The Kindle Fire HD also connects to wireless routers that support 5 GHz connections, meaning you'll get the fastest connection possible.
Compare this to the iPad, with a single Wi-Fi antenna and its share of past Wi-Fi trouble.
Amazon will begin shipping a 4G LTE version of the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire on November 20. For $50 per year, you get 250 MB per month of wireless data usage from AT&T.
However, 250 MB isn't a lot for most people. If you plan to do a lot of web browsing and video streaming, you'll probably need to sign up for a more expensive monthly plan that will give you access to a few gigabytes of data per month.
Even though the Kindle Fire HD is technically an Android tablet, you won't have access to Google's official app store called Google Play. Instead, you're limited to Amazon's Appstore, which has a smaller selection of apps. Developers tend to make Android apps for the official Google Play store first, so you may have to wait for the latest and greatest apps if you have a Kindle Fire.
But the availability of content is where the Kindle Fire HD shines. All your favourite apps are there -- Hulu Plus, Netflix, HBO GO, Angry Birds, and the like. And of course you have your pick of the seemingly endless Kindle Store for books and Newsstand for magazines.
The Kindle Fire HD boasts more storage, coming with 16 GB or 32 GB. Amazon will also set you up with free unlimited cloud storage for storing your photos, music, and other files. So if storage has been an issue for you in the past, it'll be less of a problem now.
The Kindle first came to the market as an e-reader. While the Kindle Fire HD has learned some new tricks, it still stays true to its roots as a reading device.
Amazon introduced WhisperSync for Voice, letting you stay in sync with the written book and the audio book as you switch back and forth between the two.
Amazon also introduced 'immersion reading,' letting you read synchronised text while an audio book plays.
If these appeal to you, then you'll want to check it out.
If you want to connect your iPad to a TV or projector, Apple forces you to shell out for a proprietary HDMI adaptor. (Or a $99 Apple TV to mirror your iPad wirelessly).
This is thankfully not the case on the Kindle Fire HD, which provides you with a micro HDMI port ready to go.
Apple has all but confirmed it will introduce a smaller, 7.85-inch version of the iPad in October. The iPad is still the leader in the tablet market, and we imagine the so-called iPad Mini will live up to its big brother.
While details are pretty scarce on the iPad Mini, many expect it to cost around $250 or $300. Compare that to the $199 starting price of the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD.
If you're still on the fence about buying a smaller tablet, wait a month or so and see what Apple comes up with.
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