- By Mirena Uki
It has been exactly 8 years to the month since Amazon launched it’s 1st Generation Kindle E-reader, so when they released their 5th generation Kindle fire range just in time for the winter sales they were never really going to shock the market with what has to be said has always been a below par product. What caught the world’s attention however was the pricing of these products, starting from as little as £34.99 for the 7inch version.
At £34.99 the new 7inch Kindle Fire is competing on the same financial playing field as some of the internationally produced non-branded tablets developed for the developing nations, so just how useful and how competative is this new, untra-budget product which Amazon claim to manufacture at an overall loss?
Well, to find out I am using one to write this article, the same device will also be used to edit and publish this article.
Here at The International we are used to using custom built professional laptops, iPad Air2s, Samsung Tablets, iPhones and Samsung Galaxy Note smart phones, all as standard equiptment. Budget technology is something often ridiculed for being more of a hinderance than the low price tag is worth. However we were forced to revisit this issue after a recent successful trial of some inovative new budget tech that has seen tremendous success in developing nations such as Lenovo‘s $129 USB sized PC and the $7 unbranded unofficial version of the same product.
So when I was handed the Kindle Fire in a bright orange paper bag rather than a well designed box I tried to keep an openm mind reminding myself that this costs less than today’s lunch.
The tablet over all on first impressions is well built, it feels robust if some what lacking in visual appeal. The 7inch screen is deeply embedded leaving a disapointingly poor screen quality some distance behind the actual touch surface a common issue with budget touch screens, however, the screen is still surprisingly responsive.
The tablet is annoyingly however considerably larger than the screen on all four sides without featuring any hard or soft keys other than the volume and power on the top edge, used for screen shots when the volume down and power key are held together.
The rear is rubberised, matt and features an ugly and large Amazon logo that made the entire product look as if it somehow cost less that it really did, a difficult feat to achieve, but Amazon managed it.
The device, when you consider has only 25% of the RAM, memory and CPU processing capabilities of my phone even with an additional memory card is surprisingly responsive and able to run with out crashing. I am testing the Kindle Fire against a 7inch unbranded tablet which crashed died and was binned after only 10 minutes and failed to even load a single app, although that model was only $10 online including delivery.
The main issue with the Kindle is the inevatable truth that the device is totally and utterly useless.
Amazon runs a bastardised version of Android, itself a bastardised version of Linux. Where as the origional Linux is much loved by developers and IT professionals for it’s adaptability and compatibility, with Android being able to run the largest range of apps from multiple app stores, dwarfing the range of available apps that even Apple can offer, and what more the apps are considerably less expensive. Amazon however have managed to ruin that, their closed ecco system only allows for their tiny range of aweful and over priced apps to be used. Even mondaine things such as watching youtube are not possible, anything made or provided by any other company are blocked, with no alternative available.
You can not change your lockscreen image instead much as with everything else on the device you are bombarded with an endless array of crap adverts for Amazon‘s quite dreadfull products.
The fact that this device will crash with no ability to battery pull or use hard keys to reset, meaning you would have to bin the entire device if overloaded is not a concern only because there are so few apps on offer you will never find enough to overload it.
Living with the Kindle Fire
Well the battery lasts a few hours mainly because there is so little you can do on it. Using NetFlix the only service I could find that actually works without paying monthly for Amazon’s Prime service, not worth doing at all, the battery will last around 4 hours, short of the 7 hours claimed.
Charging the battery however is a remarkable feat, only the provided charger will work, universal adaptors simply do not, the provided charger takes aproximately 8 hours, longer than the stated 6, to charge the device from 20% to full, compaird to it’s competitors that offer 15 minute charging.
Writing this article has been a challenge to say the least and involved our IT guys actually extracting and transfering APK programs to circumvent the block on non native apps. After two days of hacking, reprograming and re coding the device I was able to write the article through the use of a wireless keyboard, a nice feature that iPad currently does not support.
The problems in wrtiing this article are mainly the lack of spell check, which I am sure you will all have noticed by now, the inability to change the font colour or access HTML input mode, slow and unresposive input when typing at any reasonable pace, constant crashing, freezing and loss of the article mid way throught writing it, and the bombardment of tacky adverts from Amazon, who I am growing to strongly dislike.
It is difficult to say who the target audience is with this device, it is not the developing world as the apps and service add ons that are required for it to run correctly are more expensive than any of the other available tablet brands. It is not suitable for a professional or student due to lack of compatability or functionality. It is not suitable for tech-novices as the poor quality and need for reprograming would be far beyond their capabilities.
Whilst Amazon have come a long way from their 1st generation of clumberson monochrome E-Readers, they seem to not even be trying to compete with their ‘competitors’ chosing to go down the road to disingenuous exploitation of the less wealthy instead.
Pros and Cons
Pros: The ability to use UBS attachments, just like any other tablet other than the iPad.
Cons: The entire device is a con, poor quality, and nothing more than a tacky exploitation of the less financially well off to try and take their money through endless marketing and costly monthly subscriptions which without the device will not function as intended.
The only place for this device in our society is the bin, just make sure it’s the recyle one, assuming some of it uses recylable parts and materials, which it does not state that it does.
In short save your money and buy a more expensive initial outlay on a good system, you will save time, money and frustration in the long run.