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Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7in Android tablet review

Perfect bind?

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Fire wall

And herein lies what is potentially a deal breaker for El Reg readers: the Kindle Fire HD is so closely tied in to Amazon's own App Store that it blocks access to all other Android App Stores. The Fire may run on Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich but don't expect to use it as a general-purpose Android tablet because Amazon won't let you.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

This is just to fool you: you can try to instal Chrome instead of Silk but it can't be done.

Competing apps for reading e-books in ePub format, such as Kobo, are banned, for example, which wouldn't be so annoying if the Kindle reader itself supported ePub, which it doesn't. I also came across apps in Amazon's App Store that, when launched, announced themselves as being out of date and prompted me to download a later version, whereupon Amazon's digital riot police stepped in and prevented me from doing so.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

It's actually easier to buy digital music with the Kindle Fire HD than it is with a 'proper' computer.

Frankly, if I was a bookworm who made purchases from a variety of e-book stores, this would not be the tablet for me: I'd be better off with an Android device that allowed me to instal Kindle, Kobo, Blio, Nook, etc apps alongside each other. You can't instal Google's YouTube app, either. Hell, even iOS devices let you do all this, making Apple seem like a bastion of openness by comparison to Amazon.

Yet within these limitations, the Fire HD is still an affordable quality tablet that could suit Amazon fans down to the ground. Just don't expect to push the boundaries.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Amazon's walled garden approach to installing apps and other content is more stringent than Apple's

Verdict

OK, perhaps I could break down the Fire's defences with SDKs and sideloading tricks but why should I? My mum can't do this and I thought she symbolised the Fire's target market.

On the other hand, if you're technically competent or very patient or are buying it for someone who is happy to use it for little more than consuming digital media exclusively from Amazon and Lovefilm in the comfort of his or her own home, the Kindle Fire HD is undeniably an attractive purchase. The display is beautiful and, once you've set everything up, the device is pretty simple to use. Nor should you ignore the fact that it is significantly cheaper than any of its competitors while offering double their storage capacity. ®

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60%
Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7in Android tablet review

A luxury mini-slab at a competitive price but frustratingly limited and a poor Android choice.
Price: 16GB (£159 with ads) or £169 (no ads); 32GB £199 (with ads) or £209 (no ads) RRP

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