Kindle Fire (2012)

Like cars and, now, the iPad, Amazon is naming their latest Kindle Fire exactly that (just Kindle Fire), though this is definitely a second generation tablet. The differences are slim but noticeable; a slightly faster 1.2GHz clock speed, up from 1GHz, and double the RAM at 1GB. Users also get significantly less storage space, down to 5.5GB from 6.5GB, with no option to expand memory. The majority of changes made to the Fire aren't hardware-based though; it's in the software.

That said, current Fire owners - myself included - can expect some of the software upgrades to be implemented on last  year's model, but Amazon is not revealing what updates will come to the 1st generation units. We'll have to wait until next week, when the new Fire releases, to see what changes are implemented to the original Fire, if they even release simultaneously. 

I spent some time with the Fire, which was almost forgotten in lieu of the newer HD models. It's quite speedy, even considering the lower-end OMAP 4430 powering the device. While both the Fire HD units stuttered occasionally in demos, the Fire did not. It consistently ran smoothly, whether I started playing video, opened a magazine or app, or played in the web browser.

The sense I got from the newer Fire is that it's both meant to replace last year's model while simultaneously acting as a bridge for users skeptical about a tablet from Amazon. Or, for users who just want to watch Prime videos anywhere in their own home and don't need the upgraded display, additional horsepower, or thinner size. As the only Fire tablet not displaying video at HD quality, this model would best serve older people who want to watch, well, older videos available on Prime that don't have HD versions. The thicker build is certainly easier to grip two-handed, and it feels more stable than either of the HD models.

Yet because of the speed of the device, likely thanks to no HD visuals, anyone who won't nitpick about not having video and pictures HD-crisp may have a better experience with the lower-end and less expensive Kindle Fire than the Kindle Fire HD models. Even though they are more powerful devices, it's unclear if they have the increased bandwidth to offer the same speed and fluidity in everyday use that I experienced in ten minutes playing with the standard Fire. 

Kindle Paperwhite: a direct competitor to the Nook Touch Glowlight Kindle Fire HD 7" and 8.9": Competing against Google and Apple
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  • Freename - Thursday, September 6, 2012 - link

    No option for those of us that want the front-lit screen but tactile buttons :/
  • Wolfpup - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Yeah, super lame. I've read a couple books on my Nook 2...and touch screens on eInk are even lamer than on LCD tablets.

    Super disapointed the DX hasn't been updated either. It's always needed buttons on the other sides, it needs the new SOC + higher resolution screen + buttons on both sides and I'd buy a new one.

    Of course I still want one with color eInk for graphic novels and the like...

    The way things are going, I may end up switching back to regular books, because I really don't like reading on my iPad, and I really don't like the 6" eInk readers, and I hate hate hate touch screens.
  • Flunk - Saturday, September 8, 2012 - link

    If you want tactile buttons buy one now, it's only a matter of time before they burn through the existing stock and they're gone forever.
  • joshv - Thursday, September 6, 2012 - link

    Last time around I pre-ordered. F-that, this time around I am waiting for the reviews. The original Fire is a dog. It sits unused, with a dead battery it acquired after about 3 hours of usage. I simply got tired of charging the damned thing, and it doesn't sound like there's much of an improvement on that front.

    I am actually very interested in the 3G paperwhite. The reason I bought a Fire was because I lost my original kindle (e-ink) reader, and was tired of those damned clip on lights in bed.
  • quasi_accurate - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Same thing happened to me. Pre-ordered it, got it, didn't like it. Then it sat for 2 weeks before I returned it back to Amazon. Now I have a Nexus 7, which I absolutely LOVE. Pretty much fixed every problem I had with the original Kindle Fire.
  • Samus - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    I still use a Nook Color, great tablet.
  • Impulses - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    This seems like a rushed announcement on Amazon's part to be honest, like they just had to get something out there before whatever Apple is planning next... Frankly I don't see why anyone would pick up either of the 7" models over the Nexus 7... The 8.9" model is intriguing tho, if only because Samsung's the only one that has paid that in-between form factor any attention (even tho they don't have a current gen Android tablet at 8.9").
  • Super56K - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    One big reason why: The Kindle branding resonates strongly with average consumers.
  • MScrip - Sunday, September 9, 2012 - link

    I think the iPad brand is resonating strongly in terms of tablet computers.

    But yeah... the Kindle brand has been around for a long time because of Amazon's e-ink readers.
  • nafhan - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Don't discount the effect of a $40 price drop on something that only costs $200 to begin with, especially if it positions it as the cheapest tablet on the market (at least out of those worth considering). Also, if the "kid mode" thing works as well as advertised, the non-HD Kindle Fire looks like an ideal kids tablet.

    I'd still probably go with N7 for myself, though, and either way, always wait for reviews!

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