Monday, September 17, 2012

Hands on with the new Kindle Fire HD; the user experience remains less than optimal despite improvements; load times and browser remain issues

If a cigarette can be described as a nicotine delivery system, than the new Kindle Fire HD can be described as an delivery system.
Despite the sometimes brilliant product launch demonstration by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, which promised the very best tablet, the new Kindle Fire HD is less than impressive when demoed.

For owners of the first generation Kindle Fire the first question has to be whether the new Kindle Fire HD is a major upgrade. That is a tough question to answer because the 8.7" version has yet to be released.

The new Kindle Fire HD comes with a screen resolution of 800×1280. The first generation model's screen resolution was 600×1024, a difference just too small for me to notice immediately.

The units on display at retailers come stocked with magazines inside the Amazon Newsstand, but because each of the magazines is a replica edition, the Kindle Fire HD looks like a horrible device for reading your favorite periodicals. This is the fault of the Amazon team which is not showing off its devices in the best light, though one could continue to argue that a 7" tablet is still a bad device for reading anything but books.

The Kindle Fire HD's browser appears to continue to be slow to load web pages. And while one could argue that the WiFi to be found at a retail store is going to be less than optimal, the fact remains that even when on data the experience was not good.
My own demo, though, pointed out something that web designers need to keep in mind: the Kindle Fire will not act like your typical mobile device. While the tablet is driven off a customized version of Android, many websites will not recognize the device and display a mobile website. For me, this is fine – but other Android tablets will display the mobile website of TNM.

Best Buy promoted the Kindle Fire HD in its weekend circulars, and my own local store had plenty in stock and was promoting them with its own display. But in a nearly empty, I found it interesting that while I was demoing the new Kindle Fire HD two customers completed purchases of two new iPads.

Meanwhile, the other product being heavily promoted was the iPhone 5 as the retailer was pushing pre-orders.

The new Kindle Fire HD seems like it might be a good solution for those buyers who are attracted to the $199 price tag. If you are a Kindle owner who wants the combine the eReader features of their existing Kindle with tablet features, the Kindle Fire HD might be a good choice. Hard core eBook readers though would probably prefer a dedicated device like the Kindle Paperwhite.