Let me start out by saying that I am new to the tablet world and have had no experience using any tablets prior to this purchase. That being said, I spent a great deal of time fishing around through reviews and specs of what seemed like countless tablets for months. The obvious cliche conclusion led to all fingers pointing at some variation of an iPad, yet for me, I do not see much sense in purchasing a tablet (regardless of brand) for around the same price as a cheap yet descent laptop that will have more potential.
Enter the Kindle Fire HD.
I will spare you the story on my process of how I ended up choosing a Fire HD and get right to what you all want to know: my thoughts and experience thus far with the product.
I will start with this since obviously that was the first thing i noticed. In a word, incredible. Now its not "eye popping" or anything out of this world, but i can honestly say it exceeded my expectations and i was (and continue to be) impressed by this piece of hardware's capabilities. I tested out just a few minutes of TV shows, trailers, videos, and films from Prime Instant Video, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Flixster, and Youtube (through the web browser since an app is currently unavailable) and everything looks as it should (and beautiful to boot)! Books come out crisp as well (both in text and picture) and the same goes for basic website visuals, apps, and games. Overall I am very impressed.
This is probably where i was most impressed. I have seen some of the reviews on here that are 3 stars or less putting down the audio or claiming they don't hear the big deal. Not to be a jerk or anything but i recommend those people check in at an ear clinic and have their hearing tested. I was literally amazed at how I was hearing sounds from various distances and angles. From up close it felt like i was hearing a high quality home theater system and not just for one flick but everything. From website audio to music, Netflix to Audiobooks, this tablet sounds great!
Book/Reading Features: (10/10)
At first this was not my primary reason for purchasing a Fire HD, but after toying around with a few things, I am truly impressed at how well Amazon has integrated the ability to find, purchase, read, and even listen to literature. The lending library for Prime users is a nice added touch allowing you to borrow from a rather extensive list of books. Not to mention many timeless classics are available for free (such as Dracula, Gulliver's Travels, Little Women, The Iliad, The Jungle Book and many more) and of those titles, many come with free audio! If you do not feel like spending the money on audio (or if your book has none available) the text-to-speech feature is surprisingly well done with minimal error. With all this being said, I can honestly say that I am excited to start reading again.
Web Browsing: (8/10)
The only reason I do not give this a 10 is because web browsing (with what is given out of the box) lacks Flash support which limits the capabilities. However, with a bit of research I was able to find forum discussions on how Fire HD users were able to work around this by downloading an app called ES File Explorer and then a separate browser called Dolphin that gives you Flash capabilities, so this is an easy fix that even a monkey could figure out how to do as long as they are patient. Though don't get me wrong, Silk is fast and beautiful and i use it for the majority of my web surfing, but occasionally Flash is needed. As I am sure you have read by now in other reviews, the fact that the Fire HD does not automatically come with Flash support is not Amazon's fault yet rather Adobe for pulling he plug on their involvement with tablets. Again, as long as your network is put together well, browsing the web is very fast and up to par with dare I say some computers.
App Availability: (8/10)
To me, this is the only area where the Fire HD lacks. I would rate lower here but I am trusting that over time and after updates, the lineup will have grown. Once more, with a bit of research you can find discussions on how to "sideload" apps from your computer and other devices, but that could be a bit too advanced for the average user. Though for what it is worth, the selection it does currently come with is top notch. Just to name a few, some important missing apps include: YouTube, Dropbox, and SiriusXM. Still, as far as I am concerned, this certainly is not a deal breaker and I am sure that as things progress access to these will become available.
The 8.9" model that I own and am currently reviewing was a lot lighter than I expected and it is true what they say ( it is just right to fit in one hand). Out of the box/pre-case the Fire HD looks great and is very thin, sleek, and dare I say...sexy? The only minor gripe I would have (that I noticed other reviewers mentioned) is the volume and power buttons are sometimes hard to find and do not always register, but after a while you get use to it. Aside from that, I love how it appears and functions.
There are a few things that by now you may know, such as how out of the box the Fire HD does not come with a wall charger. I know that is a bummer but if you don't already have one roaming around your house from a smartphone or if you cannot tolerate simply charging from your computer, Amazon sells them at a fairly reasonable price.
Bottom line? I have purchased over 500 items on Amazon and I rarely feel the need to review a product, but I genuinely felt my voice needed to be heard ( or read rather) with the Kindle Fire HD 8.9. I strongly recommend purchasing this product and if you have any questions, feel free to comment and hopefully either me or someone else can assist you!