Amazon Fire Review: The $50 tablet that could
Amazon’s latest Fire tablet didn’t go for the brightest screen or the fastest processor, instead, Amazon shocked consumers with a price tag that could rival a new pair of jeans. At just $50 the Amazon Fire has become the new standard in low-priced tablet shopping, offering smart cutbacks while maintaining important features.
When compared to the Fire’s more expensive predecessors, or Apple or Google’s latest installments, the Fire Tablet certainly lacks a few of the finer conveniences and premium hardware upgrades. This won’t be a “perfect fit” tablet for everyone but depending on what you are looking for in a second-screen, it may be an ideal companion.
To achieve the low price-point, Amazon went with a few choices that should seem obvious. You won’t find any premium metals in the construction and you won’t find any of the latest processors or chipsets. The body was designed with a plastic mold and the screen is a simpler glass than you will find in more expensive tablets. That being said, you probably won’t find a better tablet at $50 and when coupled with all of Amazon’s Prime features, the tablet is practically a steal.
The primary use for this tablet is centered around entertainment and general app use, a day to day tablet without any frills. If you are looking for a tablet to watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon instant or YouTube on, then the Amazon Fire should be a perfect fit. The Amazon runs on Amazon’s Fire OS, so you won’t have Google Play or the Apple App Store to shop from but you will find all of the popular apps and email settings that most of us use everyday like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, web-browsers and more.
All of the buttons and connections are also designed for using the tablet when it is in landscaped mode. Which is the mode you are most likely to use when watching videos, which is the centerpiece of the entire design. You’ll have your volume and power buttons along the left-hand side when viewing the tablet in landscape mode, so you easily change the volume or adjust settings when watching a show or browsing through apps.
Technically this isn’t an HD screen, one of the downsides of buying a $50 tablet. The 7″ IPS display offers a (171 ppm / 1024 x 600) display running on a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor. If you’re reading on the device or checking emails and social media, the display shouldn’t really be an issue. It’s only when you’re going from an HD screen on another device to watching video content on this tablet that the lack of definition is more noticeable.
At $50 I would say you get more than what you are paying for, the 171ppm still allows a very comfortable resolution for any movie on Netflix and Hulu, and even though it’s sub-720P, I wouldn’t really expect anything better at this price-point. Watching movies and shows, browsing the web, or while playing a few games, the screen’s resolution never really distracted me.
If you’re looking into the sound then there are two ways to go, with headphones and without. If you watch a lot of content without a headset, then the sound-quality might annoy you. If frequently wear headphones or a headset while you watch content on this tablet than the sound really shouldn’t be an issue. The sound is clearly sub-par when compared to today’s leading tablets when you are listening without headphones, but again, this device is on a completely different set of standards considering the price. The sound was much better when watching movies than listening to music, but with headphones I was pleased with both.
The cameras on the device won’t win any awards but the fact that a $50 tablet has both a front-facing and rear-facing camera is quite exceptional. On the front you will have a front-facing VGA camera, which will allow you to take selfies or video chat on apps like Skype. The 2 MP rear-facing camera will allow you to take photos or record videos in 720p HD, which is a technically a better resolution than the display can even output. The cameras probably won’t be used other than video calls on Skype or Google Hangouts, because they do capture some low-quality shots. I don’t think anyone will be using the Kindle Fire as their primary camera in the future.
Browsing the web customers will utilize the Amazon Silk browser, there is also a built-in calendar and email service. All of which work perfectly fine for casual use. The quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek processor runs on 1GB of RAM. It keeps the apps relatively snappy even when you flicking back and forth between them. Watching video isn’t an issue and jumping from one app to the other never really became a problem during testing. You will have 8GB of internal storage (really 5GB after upgrades and OS installs) but you do have the option to use the Kindle Fire’s microSD to bump that up to 128GB of storage.
You will have the option to pair your headset or speakers through the Bluetooth 4.0 and there is a single-band WiFi (802.11b/g/n) connection that works well. Inside the Fire is a 2,980mAh battery that lasts incredibly long. With really heavy video use and app switching, the device lasted between 8-10hrs without needing to be recharged. Obviously the apps that use, screen brightness and other factors heavily effect the battery-life but I was very impressed with the output of the 2,980mAh battery.
As a tablet that was specifically designed to be a low-cost option for video, the Fire is an amazing achievement. The drawbacks come with the display, running Fire OS instead of standard Android or iOS and the chip isn’t the fastest in the land. If your looking for a tablet to simply watch movies or check social-media and the internet while traveling, sitting in bed or lounging about the house, I don’t think you’ll find anything remotely close at $50. You can five of these in a pack and get one free, that’s the kind of rock-bottom pricing that we are talking about here, it’s really a new standard in low-priced tablet shopping.
Overall I think you get more than what you pay for in this option and if you need another screen for entertainment around the house or office, then you really should put the Amazon Fire on your list. You can find more pictures, prices and specs on the new Amazon Fire here at Amazon.com.