It's been 4 days since our Amazon Fire 7 tablet arrived in the post. The idea behind buying the tablet was as a short term replacement for Ethan's iPad which has really become temperamental. It's three years old now and despite the good condition in which it is kept, we are looking to replace it soon. I also wanted to try out the Fire as a writing tool so that I could take my writing on the road and get away from the desk for a couple of hours a day.
The suggestion of the Amazon Fire tablet was by a friend of mine who bought one for his son. I looked at reviews of the tablet online and it appeared to be able to do everything that I wanted it to do. After a few days with it though, there are a few observations I've made that would make me question buying one of these again.
First the benefits. You can't argue with a £50 tablet. Really you can't. Looking at the price and who sells it, you would immediately think this is the right tablet for me. Well the tablet itself is sturdy enough. Obviously not as thin as a new iPad, but the added thickness was a slight reassurance the kids will be able to get a good grip of it and be less likely to drop it.
It has a non-HD display but the kids won't really know the difference between that and the HD display and to be honest I'm not that fussed not the difference either. The display was good enough especially for such a cheap tablet. Lastly the Fire is able to expand it's storage capacity with the the use of a micro SD card. So we're covered for storage.
The tablet is fast and responsive enough that I couldn't call it sluggish. There are a number of apps included in the tablet but none of these are on my requirements list with the exception of the Amazon Prime app and a few other apps I can download from the app store.
Now the drawbacks. If you're hoping to do some work on the Amazon Fire tablet then I suggest you make sure that the apps you need to use are available on Amazon's app store. Not having had an Amazon tablet before I wasn't too sure what apps would be available to use. I did see the Trello app listed but that was all. There are no apps for Todoist, 1Password or Instapaper. Not that this is a reflection on the company that make these apps. The Amazon store is not as prolific as the Apple Store or Google Play, and so it means that the apps available on Amazon are limited. I had hoped that the tablet would serve as a writing tool. With a browser, Trello, Todoist, and a nice markdown editor, I thought I would have a portable writing tool that would allow me to move away from my desk. Not so. There just isn't enough applications that would allow me to do this effectively using the Amazon Fire. The inclusion of a web browser on the device means that I can access things like Todoist, Trello and Draft but for such a device I would prefer to use a native app.
For me the Amazon Fire is more in the consumer target group than the creative target group. With Netflix, Spotify and of course Amazon Prime video available on the device, I see it now as nothing more than a portable entertainment center, which is a shame really as the tablet itself is quite neat and could really do well with those on a tighter budget or looking for something smaller than an iPad to carry about.
So a few days with the Amazon Fire and I'm less than impressed with it. The tablet itself is nice and compact but the availability of apps on the Amazon app store means that if you're looking to do anything more than entertainment with this then I would suggest you keep you're money for an iPad Mini 2 or an equally sized Android tablet. Both of these will have a greater range of apps to use on them, thereby increasing their usage over the Fire's restricted consumer use.
Chris Gonzales has a review of the Kids version of the Amazon Fire 7 tablet at Tools & Toys.