Sept. 12, 2012 — We recently perused the big boy of Amazon’s revamped 2012 Kindle lineup with our preview of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9. Now it’s time to cast the spotlight on its little brother, the Kindle Fire HD. We served up a taste of the device in our Kindle lineup preview, so folks interested in the tablet’s specs can check out that piece. For this article, we’ll be looking at the rationale behind the tablet and, more specifically, the market segment that the device will be competing in.
With its 7-inch screen display, the Kindle Fire HD is more in line with the similarly sized first-generation Kindle tablet. Apple’s tablet also remains the top dog in the tablet space so some folks would likely look at the Kindle Fire HD’s smaller dimensions and think about the rumored iPad Mini. Then again, that sadly remains stuck in Unicorn Land even after the company’s big iPhone 5 reveal so who knows when or if that thing comes out. Astute observers, however, will come up with one obvious competitor just from looking at the display alone: Google’s Nexus 7 tablet. Just think about it. The Kindle Fire HD has a 7-inch screen — which happens to be the same size for the Nexus 7. It also sports a resolution of 1280 x 800 and plays video up to 720p — just like the Nexus 7. Guess which tablet has the same 10-point multi-touch seen in the Kindle Fire HD? Yep, the Nexus 7. Heck, both even use variants of the Android operating system.
Still, there are enough differences between the two for prospective consumers so let’s take a closer look? For starters, both are powered by different brains. The Kindle Fire HD uses a 1.2GHz dual core processor and a PowerVR 3D graphics core. The Nexus 7, on the other hand has a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and a GeForce graphics chip with a whopping 12 cores.
The Kindle Fire HD does have an advantage in terms of storage. Both actually deserve a thumbs down for not including a microSD slot — likely because they’re pushing consumers to use their cloud storage services. The Kindle Fire HD, however, softens that blow somewhat by offering up 16GB and 32GB variants, In contrast, the Nexus 7 comes with a piddly 8GB or 16GB of internal memory, which is honestly laughable at this day and age. The Kindle Fire has WiFi and 4G LTE while the Nexus 7 is limited to regular WiFi.
Now, while both use Android as their operating system, they actually use different variations. The Nexus 7 serves up an unadulterated version of the latest and greatest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS while the Kindle Fire HD uses a heavily skinned version of the slightly older Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS that won’t be as easily upgradable. Both also take a different approach with app access. The Nexus 7 provides full access to Google Play so folks who already have an established library of Android applications will have an easy transition. The Kindle Fire, on the other hand, locks you in with Amazon’s own app store, which is great if you’re a regular Amazon user but not so great otherwise. While both also are similarly priced, Kindle Fire users have to put up with “Special Offers” ads or need to pay extra to get rid of them. The Nexus 7 is ad free.
Ultimately, your choice between the two boils down to which environment you prefer. Folks married to the Amazon store will likely prefer the Kindle Fire HD while traditional Android users will gravitate toward the Nexus 7. That doesn’t account for the fact that Apple might still release that iPad Mini, though. If that happens, then the race for smaller tablets will definitely get a lot more interesting.