Amazon Kindle Fire

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Awarded:

Best Budget Tablet

As of July 30th, 2012
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    Expert Review

    Apple's iPad 2 is facing its first-ever realistic challenge to its dominance over the tablet market. A quick glance at both the iPad 2 and the Kindle Fire would suggest otherwise, considering the obvious size and price differences between the two. However, most potential buyers will be more willing to overlook the Kindle Fire's shortfalls next to the iPad 2 given that it costs a fraction of the price for the same basic capabilities.

    First, it's important to be clear about what the Kindle Fire is and what it isn't. Yes, the Kindle Fire is a bona fide tablet with a 7-inch screen. In fact, the Fire runs on a version of Google's Android platform, extensively modified to fit Amazon's needs. On the other hand, the Kindle Fire is not designed to be a multitasking device in the vein of Apple's iPad 2. Despite the dual-core processor and responsive interface, it's apparent that the Kindle Fire was designed to fit into a much lower price point. This shows up in a few obvious ways, including the stripped-down Android OS and the paltry 8GB of storage, both of which force users to rely heavily on Amazon's services.

    Then again, the vast majority of users won't see this as a drawback. Alongside Amazon's extensive Kindle ebook library, the full color 1024x600 pixel IPS-panel touchscreen allow the Fire to display graphics, illustrations, and photographs. Whereas previous Kindle models were limited to print-only material, the Kindle Fire features full access to Amazon Prime services including streaming TV shows and movies. The built-in 'Silk' web browser splits its page-loading duties with Amazon's cloud, returning faster-than-expected performance. Take note, though - the Kindle Fire is not offered with any form of 3G connection, limiting online access to within Wi-Fi networks only.

    Amazon has managed to make quite a splash in a market that is quickly becoming jaded with new products that fail to live up to expectations. The Kindle Fire isn't a traditional competitor to the dominant iPad 2 due to its slimmer feature set and different target market, but there is the very real threat of iPad 2 sales slowing down in the near future. As for the Kindle Fire's shortcomings, Amazon remedies this through airtight integration with online and Cloud services as well as offering the tablet for less than $200. After factoring in a subscription to Amazon Prime, it becomes clear that the Kindle Fire is the right tablet at the right price for most potential buyers looking for an entertainment device. Rating: 4.5/5

    Best Budget Tablet
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    Best Budget Tablet Winner: Kindle Fire HDX 7
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