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Amazon Kindle Fire HD: First Impressions + Photos

While I’ll be reviewing Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HD tablet in the days ahead, I wanted to provide some initial impressions along with a few photos. My assumption was that the Kindle Fire HD would be an obvious improvement over the Google Nexus 7, and a credible challenger to the iPad. But it’s unclear whether this device has the chops to meet either challenge.

To be clear, the Kindle Fire HD’s bargain basement pricing gives it a seat at the table. Heck, you could buy three of these things for the price of one mid-priced iPad. And the Amazon ecosystem, while a close second to Apple’s, is vastly superior that what’s offered by Google.

But the device itself is strangely designed. It’s not the same aspect ratio as its predecessor, or of the Nexus 7, but is rather squatter, wider when held and viewed in portrait mode. More oddly, that extra width appears to be all bezel: From what I can see, the actual screen is the same width as the Nexus 7 screen. So only the device itself is wider.

Like Windows RT/8 tablets, the Kindle Fire HD is oriented in landscape mode, and not in portrait mode as with the iPad and Nexus 7. This matters only for the locations of buttons and ports, since you can of course hold it in any position you desire. But everyone who’s picked this thing up had difficulty finding the power switch. It’s just in a weird place, and well hidden.

As with most previous Kindles (only the very first device was different in this regard), Amazon continues to cut corners in ways that are frankly almost embarrassing. It comes in a cheap box, with a single card of instructions, and includes just a USB sync cable, but no power adapter. Obviously, you can’t sell devices at these prices without cutting a few corners, but this is the packaging equivalent of the guy who only gets water in restaurants because “that’s how they get you.” It’s not just frugal, it’s cheap.

Will it matter? I’ll have a full review available later this week, but I can tell you up front that this device isn’t the slam dunk I thought it was going to be. And I’m a bit surprised by that.

More soon.

Note: My photo gallery appears to be broken for some reason. Here are the images:

Kindle Fire HD 001-sm

Kindle Fire HD 003-sm

Kindle Fire HD 004-sm

Kindle Fire HD 005-sm

Kindle Fire HD 006-sm

Kindle Fire HD 007-sm

Kindle Fire HD 008-sm

Kindle Fire HD 009-sm

Kindle Fire HD 010-sm

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