Enlarge / The home screen of the new Kindle Fire HD: not quite the same as the old Kindle Fire.
The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD is two days from its ship date, but we've got our hands on one a couple of days early. The whole device seems a bit smoother than its predecessor on the surface, both in terms of physical hardware and software. But even at the outset of our interactions with it, we've seen questionable performance out of the device.
The Fire HD's body is significantly less boxy than the original Kindle Fire, and retains the soft rubberized back. The narrow margins on the long sides of the screen have widened, making it a bit easier to hold, if slightly more cartoonish-looking. Despite the fact that the screen merited a mention in the device's own title, we aren't blown away by the quality. It looks good, but we didn't take particular notice of the level of detail or color.
Like the first Fire, the Fire HD comes pre-loaded with your Amazon account, and offers to connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts during setup. Right off the bat, the sponsored sleep screens confused us: you can swipe in from the left to access the ad, or from the right to unlock and get to your content. Initially we were offered a $5 credit on the left swipe tab and thought it was just part of the setup; not so! Fortunately Amazon backtracked on its moratorium against non-special-offers Fires, so owners will be able to turn this setting off if they like, for a fee.