Amazon’s new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD. What a difference ten months makes. Photo by Ariel Zambelich/Wired
When the Kindle Fire first arrived last September, it was in a class all its own. There were plenty of other 7-inch tablets running Android, but none of them were as successful. Sure, Amazon’s tablet did most of the same things as competing offerings. Some of those things it did ably, some it did sloppily — but it did them all for $200, less than half the price of the cheapest iPad.
It turns out “cheap” was quite the trump card, and despite its many quirks, the Fire was a huge smash. But things are different now, and other manufacturers have come out with devices that hit (or come close to) that magic price point. Most notably, there’s Google’s own Nexus 7, a consumer favorite that’s set new expectations for how a $200 tablet should look and perform.
Competitive pressure is usually a good thing, and after using the newly updated 7-inch version of the Kindle Fire HD for close to a week, I can say that the changes Amazon has made in order to stay at the head of the budget tablet pack have produced a machine that’s just plain better all around.