The Amazon Kindle Fire: Benchmarked, Tested, And Reviewed

Video And Music: Amazon Prime Members Rejoice

Music

Music appMusic appMusic appMusic app

Multimedia is what sets the Fire apart from Amazon's e-ink-based products. The Kindle Keyboard and Touch both support MP3 playback, but that isn't their core competency. Low capacity forgettable audio quality mean you'll probably look to products like the Fire for more a more enjoyable experience.

Music app: \Music app: "Shop this artist" LinkMusic appMusic app

Amazon uses the stock music player from Android 2.3, which will make it familiar to those of you with a Gingerbread-based smartphone. The company tweaked its interface, though, so you can shop for music within the app. This works flawlessly, provided your ID3 tags are correct.

Video: On Demand

The Kindle Fire excels at video, with one small caveat. Amazon is really using the device to push its streaming Instant Video service. Unfortunately, this isn't free.

If you're a Prime member, you won't have to pay for content tagged as Prime Instant Video. However, not all movies and TV shows fall into this category, which is why you should check out the selection on Amazon before you spend on a Prime membership.

The playback interface is very simple. You can seek within a track, change the volume, rewind 10 seconds, pause, and play. The screenshots may seem a little dark, but that's only because the controls are overlaid on top of the video image. Second, there's a slight black gradient effect to provide better contrast.

Interestingly, all of the video-on-demand (VOD) content is HTML5. On a desktop computer, Amazon streams Flash video. Presumably, this is to save on battery life.

It's only possible to play video from Amazon's VOD service in landscape mode, which suits us just fine.

There is one quirk where flipping the orientation after starting a video results in an upside-down control interface. The only way to fix this is to completely stop playback by hitting the back button and resume playback.

Video: Local Files

Nothing prevents you from playing locally-stored video. However, the Fire only has 5 GiB of user-accessible space, some of which you'll have to set aside for the apps you want to install. Of course, there's also the matter of music and e-books. You might get one or two high-quality movie rips onto the Fire, tops.

Interestingly, there aren't any orientation issues during local video playback.

I haven't experimented much with specific codecs or file extensions. We only use H.264-encoded MP4 video files in the lab, simply because they're compatible across all platforms. With that said, you need to install a program like mVideoPlayer if you want MKV support (see Appendix B).

If you're a movie buff, be aware you can't play any video file larger than 2 GB. Oddly, we encountered a similar problem on HP's TouchPad. It's not clear if there's a link. Both tablets use a FAT32 file system architecture, so the maximum file size should be 4 GB. But, while our 2.8 GB Blu-ray rip is detected, it won't play back.

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33 comments
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    Top Comments
  • acku
    Anonymous said:
    How do I win a Radeon 6990?


    Ummm.... what? :heink: This is a Kindle Fire review.....

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    18
  • Other Comments
  • JeTJL
    Should of done other comparisons with Tablets around the Kindles Price range like the Coby Kyros. I personally don't have either the Kyros or the Kindle Fire. But recently My sister bought it and she is thoroughly enjoying it. I received a Ipad2 though because of the Academy at my School that I belong to and I'm quite pleased with it, even though I'm a big android fan.
    -3
  • Anonymous
    How do I win a Radeon 6990?
    -17
  • acku
    Anonymous said:
    How do I win a Radeon 6990?


    Ummm.... what? :heink: This is a Kindle Fire review.....

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    18
  • Goldengoose
    ackuUmmm.... what? This is a Kindle Fire review.....Cheers,Andrew KuTomsHardware.com

    Just give him the 6990, the poor fellow just wants to play BF3.
    6
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    ackuUmmm.... what? This is a Kindle Fire review.....Cheers,Andrew KuTomsHardware.com


    Ever heard of bots? There're tons of those on Tom's nowadays.

    GoldengooseJust give him the 6990, the poor fellow just wants to play BF3.


    A GPU of a 560 Ti level maxes it out @ 1080p, no need for a 6990.

    Back to topic...

    Quote:
    Notably, it's missing a slew of features, including a GPS, front- and rear-facing cameras, and a microphone.


    ROFL, and who needs a tablet without all that? That's right, Amazon fanboys. That company is an utter POS that is not unlike Apple, designing underpowered useless products and delivering them as "innovative". The only "innovative" thing here is a complete dependency on the company's online services... oops, nevermind, Apple did it first :kaola:
    -8
  • donovands
    Wait, what? Is there such a thing as an Amazon fanboy?
    7
  • donovands
    The iPad took a part of the market away from the PC, in the sense that there are folks out there who don't need the full functionality of a PC and the media consumption tablet gave them a device more suited for their needs. The same thing is happening here, if not as dramatically. The Fire may not have all the functionality of an iPad, but there's a lot of folks out there that will get the Fire *instead* of the iPad because it provides all the functionality they need. It isn't an iPad killer. But it *is* going to hurt iPad sales.
    5
  • SneakySnake
    I think it's hilarious how the best selling droid tab this year is completely closed off, limited, and controlled. Sounds familiar doesn't it :P

    And do not say "ya, but you can root it!!!". That's nice, people can jailbreak their iPads. You cannot include rooting and jailbreaking when you talk about something being open
    1
  • acku
    __-_-_-__"That rules out video conferencing using Skype or mapping out directions to the bar across town."There are some new devices called WEBCAM and bluetooth or usb GPS that would enable that. you might want to check this huge innovation. -.-


    The Fire doesn't have either of those things. Not going to work. You should check out the specs of the Fire first.
    2
  • BlackHawk91
    Actually this tablet surprised me, I didn't expect that much from the kindle fire.
    1
  • acku
    BlackHawk91Actually this tablet surprised me, I didn't expect that much from the kindle fire.

    Oh yeah? You bought a Fire?

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    4
  • eklipz330
    i was playing with my classmate's kindle fire yesterday, an amazing little device. despite all the negative reviews ive been reading, it just showed me that we've been seriously spoiled with some amazing technology.... it's really an amazing piece of tech
    1
  • jla0
    At that price ($199), why not buy a 16GB Playbook? At least it's a "real" full featured tablet. The QNX OS rocks too. Anyone who's tried it loves the interface compared to an Android tablet...

    This article is a big fail.. they should have included it to compare.

    Just sayin...
    -6
  • josh jones
    Like the author implied, the fire will make a great Trojan for amazon store:)
    -3
  • JeTJL
    josh jonesLike the author implied, the fire will make a great Trojan for amazon store


    You can say the same thing with the Ipad and the Itunes store. Except for the fact that Amazon isn't making money with just selling the Kindle Fire alone.

    Still though I like both the Ipad and Kindle Fire.
    1
  • quantumrand
    Is the A5's RAM really clocked at 1066MHz, or is it actually 533MHz and 1066 after the DDR conversion? It's a little unfair to list it after the DDR conversion and the others before.

    Also, I want to elaborate on the GPU. The OMAP 4430's SGX540 runs at 300MHz, not 200MHz, so those figures are a little misleading.
    0
  • eddieroolz
    A very informative review. I was interested in the Kindle Fire for a while for its super-cheap price tag, but didn't pull the trigger on it because I don't really need a tablet.

    It seems like a good product from Amazon, but for my expected use, it isn't sufficient. I mainly use my iPod touch to read comics in JPEG format, so not being able to install many apps + having limited space really hurts.
    1
  • acku
    eddieroolzA very informative review. I was interested in the Kindle Fire for a while for its super-cheap price tag, but didn't pull the trigger on it because I don't really need a tablet.It seems like a good product from Amazon, but for my expected use, it isn't sufficient. I mainly use my iPod touch to read comics in JPEG format, so not being able to install many apps + having limited space really hurts.


    Glad you liked it! Most of the time I cringe when the table discussion turns to tablets. A lot of tech reviewers aren't even really technies. They come from a Communication background, which is why the Fire is always pitted in a iPad 2 fight. Plus, the investors want the Apple fight cause they only see things in terms of units sold.

    The engineers and consumers want a comparison based on features and usability. And the executives and PR people want a comparison based on demographics.

    The truth lies somewhere in the middle. For me, this tablet is very attractive, but then again, I like amazon. If you're not part of that crowd, it's a harder purchase to justify in the long run.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    1
  • Anonymous
    I pruchased on, love it! no need to root. Just sideloading is all you need. The interface is easy, quick, fun. My mom loves it and is getting one for xmas. My phone has a camera plus who uses video conferencing apps anyways? I'd rather wait for a Dick Tracy watch.
    1
  • kartu
    Good review, but not clear why Xoom makes it into review, while much more popular Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn't
    0