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January 5th 2014 12:50 pm

How would you change Amazon's Kindle Fire HD (7-inch)?

Amazon's second-generation Kindle Fire arrived with a revamped design, excellent display and stereo sound. For all of these plus points, however, our reviewer's single objection was the same that it's always been. The Kindle Fire is less of a tablet and more of a Trojan Horse, a way to keep the Amazon catalog sandwiched between your hands at all times. If you can ignore that issue then it's a perfectly fine device, albeit one that couldn't topple the first-generation Nexus 7 as our Android tablet of 2012. The question, therefore, is what did you think of the Kindle Fire HD?

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I would give it access to the play store also. Not just the Amazon app store. Other than that it is a good basic tablet. I think that is what Barnes and Nobel had to do with Nook hd's to make them sell. I think Barnes and Nobel saw people where going to great lengths to pget the google services on their tablets. So they broke down and put it on it. My Sister has a first gen Fire. To be honest I have never really looked at the Amazon app store. All I know it is a smaller selection apps than the play store. If not the make it easy to sideload apps without the need to root the device.
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I think the more relevant debate would be over Kindle Fire HDX versus Google Nexus 7 Second Generation. I looked at both carefully before deciding to go for the Google tablet. First reason was form factor. The Fire had an odd shape, closer to a square than a rectangle. the bezels were still pretty thick on the Fire and most importantly, still no access to Play Store. Fire OS has a way to go before becoming mainstream in terms of availability of Apps. And one always fears that Amazon will have a filter of how to make money on their content for any new App they approve. For all the speed advantage that the Snapdragon 800 on the HDX should enjoy over the Google Nexus's SPro processor, I did not find a perceptible speed different under normal use conditions.
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They should include Google Services! I know many people are screaming "open source" and crying foul about the closed nature of Google Services but Android could become so diluted if it was too open. The point of using Android is to keep compatibility between many different types of devices. Kindle is a step away from that.
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For all the talk about how "open" Google is for having built Android, there are a couple of interesting things at play here:
- Amazon is the only company that has successfully built and maintains a commercial fork of Android; and they spend A LOT of resources doing it
- Because they don't bundle Google Play Services (and effectively tie their users into a G+ account), they are barred from the Open Handset Alliance, which means they can't manufacture *any* products with Google Play on them
- Google is constantly moving their Google Play Services API away from Android, which means keeping Android apps compatible between FireOS and Android is becoming more and more difficult, and will continue to do so. I reckon FireOS is the last opportunity to have a viable Android-based alternative to Google, and since the software is more limited that the Nexus, it will probably fail
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I am a Kindle user (Keyboard, Paperwhite, and Fire) and my only issue with the Fire is the inability to create collections of books in the same manner as you can on the Keyboard as opposed to just recent, author, or title. It would also be a great way to corral your apps by having different collections of apps so you can get to the kind of you want quickly (game vs productivity).
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Although the Kindle does not have Play support their tablets were built from the ground up to work with their own store. Opening the app store with the kindle fire is a seamless process. The user interfaces is virtually the same as looking at your library of books or searching in your documents or photos folder. This is the main difference I think between B&N's failed attempt at the Nook tablet and the Kindle Fire's success. Both had similar app stores, specs, and price, but the Kindle is just easier to use.

The play store does however have thousands of apps that the Amazon store does not and immediate access to new apps that the Amazon store usually has to tweak for a "kindle version." The Kindle app store does have a large selection apps including all of the most popular apps in the Play Store. For other apps it is simple to transfer and install apk files from you android phone/device to a kindle fire with the frostwire app over a shared wi-fi connection.

My only issue I have with the the Kindle is the lack of customization. No background pictures, cannot change the order of the search and navigation bars, and the carousel could use some kind of effects. For a device with such a beautiful screen it is almost criminal to have a home screen with so little personality.
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There are many changes I would like for Amazon to consider. First of all, rather than giving access to the Play Store, Amazon should add all Google applications (eg. Gmail, Chromecast, Youtube, Chrome, etc.), and then some. Hell, why not just transfer all the available apps on Play and put them under the Amazon Appstore name. Secondly, Amazon should make the home and lock screen more customizable; whether it be through setting wallpapers-both on home and lock- or using a third party home screen entirely (I'd even take Yahoo Aviate). I am just getting a little bored with the recycled pre-loaded pictures. Also, Amazon needs to do something about the Carousel: if the company wants to compete with other on-the-market tablets, then they need to think like the enemy. I am trying really hard not to sound like I am complaining, because the Kindle Fire HD 7 is really an awesome product. But nobody is perfect, especially when it comes to the Amazon OS. It feels like I bought a product with pre-loaded parental controls. There is definitely a lot of work ahead of Amazon, but for what it's worth, the kindle fire does its job: downloading books.
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The quantum dots display is nice in theory, but the blue edge glow is really annoying. I returned my 7" Fire and replaced it with the larger one (which uses a more conventional display and looks fine).

I think the "Trojan horse" complaint is absurd. It's easy to sideload apps onto the Fire, and most of the literature I read on mine comes from non-Amazon sources. With the large discounts Amazon gave this holiday season, the Kindle Fires were irresistible.
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