The Amazon Kindle revolutionised the way we read. The surprisingly sturdy device with its E-ink screen has made it simple to carry around thousands of books in your coat pocket, making reading significantly more accessible when travelling or on holiday. There's definitely an argument that I'd make for preferring to own real, physical books, but some publishers have you covered there as well because they supply you with a download code when you pick up a proper book. How's that for convenience? To top it off, Amazon take a hit on each unit to keep them affordable, and offer further discounts at the cost of advertising to you on the lock screen, and of course they make their money right back in ebook sales.
The Paperwhite was a further innovation on an already stellar idea. Everything about the Kindle, but with a back-lit screen. Now you can read in bed without getting up to turn the light off when you're done. The Voyage and the Oasis, in my humble opinion, are outliers here. They're unnecessarily expensive, and they don't realistically bring anything new to the table. But at the heart of Kindle you have the E-ink screen; eye strain free reading, on a screen, for the masses.
Quite the preamble for this one, no? Two paragraphs in and we haven't even gotten to the subject of the post. But here it is: The Kindle Fire is not a Kindle. It shouldn't be named what it is, because it's a completely different beast. "Fire" on its own is fine, it makes sense. You have the "Kindle" range, and you have the "Fire" range, a clear distinction between tablet and ereader markets.
Now one thing it is, is Amazon. In much the same way as with the two lower end Kindle devices, it's sold at a loss, with the option of advertising to save a little more on top. And as a result, it's the cheapest half-decent tablet on the market today. However, out of the box that's all it is-- half decent. This isn't a damning indictment or anything, as I'm really quite fond of my 2017 model Fire Tablet. Allow me to explain.
I meant what I said, in that this is a very Amazon piece of kit. You download Apps via the Amazon App Store, you read in the Amazon Books app, you browse the internet in the Amazon Silk browser... I could go on at length but the punchlines are Prime Video, Amazon Music, Audible, Goodreads, Alexa, Amazon Games, Prime Photos and Newsstand. In that regard, the Kindle Fire is very much like a piece of Apple kit. They've done their absolute best to lock you into the Amazon ecosystem by making it look like there are no other options. Now, I'm not saying they shouldn't be allowed to do this, or anything of the sort. After all, this is an Amazon product, so why wouldn't they push their own stuff?
Quite the contrary, I want to make a small point in Amazon's favour here: the tablet isn't actually locked down. It's not as though you need to root it to get the full Android functionality, because when it comes right down to it, it's a stock Android device with a very Amazon-centric (and at least a little bit hideous) launcher. With a few clicks and a little know-how, you can install the Play Store and all of a sudden you have a proper Android tablet complete with all of Amazon's bells and whistles on top.
One of the reasons I love tablets in general is for the ability to read PDFs the way I read Ebooks, and the Fire is great at that. It's got pretty decent battery life, and even without installing the Play Store there's plenty to do right out of the box. I might rag on it a little for it's selfcenteredness, but it's a brilliant idea to have easy access to all of Amazon's features, complete with Alexa. And all without ever having to login, because if you order it through Amazon, it comes pre-bound to your account! Simply put, you won't find a better tablet for the price, with or without the tweaking (although I highly recommend said tweaking).
I'll finish this review the way I started it. The Kindle Fire is not a device built for reading on. As a reader who's been spoiled for years by the beauty of an E-ink screen, even the thought of going back to reading on an IPS screen is nothing short of heresy. So I'll say it again: The Kindle Fire tablet is many things and with a bit of jiggery pokery it can be made into a wonderful piece of kit, but it is not, under any circumstances, a Kindle.