Kindle Fire (1st generation)

Kindle Fire Review Card

A Kindle Fire Tablet from Santa!
As luck would have it on Christmas morning (2011) there was a Kindle Fire under the tree for my 9 year-old son! Finally I would get the chance to do more than the minimal demo time I had a couple weeks ago in-store.

Opening the box
Once he got over the amazement of the gift, he immediately wanted to open it up! The premium packaging opens easily (the box bears a logo that reads “Certified Frustration Free Packaging”) to reveal the Kindle Fire inside a plastic bag. An AC power cord is below with a simple info card tucked into the lid reading “getting to know your kindle”.

Fire it up!
A simple touch of the only button and it came to life. We played with the default apps and quickly scanned the on-board “Getting Started” documentation before I headed off to look-up my secure Wi-Fi credentials.

Streaming Video Playback
For the sake of this site (and review) I’ll focus mostly on the streaming video capabilities of the Kindle Fire. I’ve watched plenty of video on smaller devices (from PSP to iPhone 4) so with a 7″ touchscreen (measured diagonally) the Kindle Fire is a very comfortable size for viewing video. The screen boasts 16 million colors and a 1024 by 600 pixel resolution at 169 pixels per inch (ppi).

Amazon Instant Video (and Prime Video):
Purpose-built to utilize content from the Amazon eco-system, the Fire has a clean interface for browsing and playing both Prime and Amazon Instant Videos. Whats missing is the ability to create a queue or playlist. We’ve streamed a couple of the free Prime videos (using our complementary month of access).

Free apps for Netflix and Hulu+:
We’ve downloaded the Netflix app and streamed several movies successfully. The Netflix app offers easy access to browsing instant streaming titles by interest/genre and your instant queue.

Web-based Streaming Video:
We’ve also sampled YouTube videos and a few Network TV shows in the Amazon Silk browser. Playback is a bit more tedious and can be frustrating at times. Still overall I’m impressed at how much content plays on this device for $199!

Web Browser
The browser works pretty well overall. At times it takes a while to render complex pages and you’ll need to do lot’s of gestural zooming and scrolling as the screen is only 7″.

We’ve experienced only one crash so far, unfortunately while browsing Amazon Instant Videos. Hopefully this was an anomaly. Imagine if the iPad crashed while browsing iTunes! To “hard reboot” the Kindle Fire you have to simply hold the power button until the device shuts down. It took roughly 20 seconds.

Amazon has delivered big value at $199 (original price). The Kindle Fire is a capable mobile Video Streaming device and we’ve barely scratched the surface of Apps and content! I’ll add more insight as I have time to get more acquainted (remember it’s my son’s!). Need to also make use of the free month of Amazon Prime which offers FREE Two-Day Shipping (with no minimum order size), Unlimited instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime instant videos, and a Kindle book to borrow for free each month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

A Year Later…
The Kindle Fire has seen a ton of use in the last year, from reading books, browsing the web and lots of streaming video. Unfortunately over time the micro USB port has become loose and charging the device has become nearly impossible. Searching the web revealed that this has been a fairly common problem with the 1st generation device. To our dismay we knew that Santa had purchased our Kindle Fire at Target (which no longer carries the device) so we were concerned about the prospect of getting a replacement as we were outside of the 1-year limited warranty. A call to Kindle customer service made us once again happy Amazon customers as they granted us an “exception” to the warranty and are sending us a new replacement! No luck with an upgrade to a current generation HD model, the exception provides no option for a “pay-the-difference” upgrade.

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