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Amazon Kindle Fire review

The progenitor of the Kindle Fire line still holds up

Aside from the price tag, one of the main talking points spawned from Amazon's announcement was the new, and revolutionary, Silk browser, which promised a different approach to loading web-pages, meaning you'd get your favorite content faster.

Here's how it works in theory. You see, Amazon isn't just the world's biggest retailer, it also owns most of the internet. It's servers host an astonishing amount of the web's content.

Kindle Fire Review

It's massive EC2 Cloud-based computers are hence able to do a huge amount of the heavy lifting when it comes to loading web content. Those servers will store a lot of the information about websites in a cache, meaning the Kindle Fire itself has to do less of the work the next time it brings up that page. The browser will determine the best division of labour necessary to load the page faster.

The Silk loading method isn't without controversy. As a lot of the information is handled by Amazon's own servers, there are privacy issues at stake. It means Amazon has a record of every site you've visited, exposing your browsing habits. There's a price to pay for that extra speed.

So how does it work in practice? Well, on pages we loaded regularly, like TechRadar.com, the back-end loading functionality was able to predict regular content like the banner heads, while the rest of the content follows almost instantly. It's a very fluid experience.

In terms of the look and usability of the Silk browser, it's definitely more likable than the default Android smartphone and tablet browser, but not as smooth or intuitive as Safari for iOS 6. However, the limited amount of apps on offer means that you can't access Google Chrome if you want an alternative.

We found that scrolling around web-pages was a simple task, and double-tapping to zoom in on certain areas worked well as did pinch to zoom. This didn't cause any negative effects on the resolution of text or images. However when video is present, any zooming can be very jerky.

Silk is flash enabled, meaning you'll have no problem using those sites still heavily reliant on Adobe's gaming and video platform, despite Adobe's vow to kill Flash on mobile devices. As they tend to, on mobile devices Flash banners do not always render in the correct place.

However, a lot will depend on how you cope with the 7-inch screen as opposed to 9.7 and 10.1 inch displayed offered by Amazon rivals. If you're using in portrait mode you'll not see the full width of many pages, while landscape displays minimal information above the fold. We had no problems with reading web articles on the 7-inch screen as text re-renders to fit your environment a la the Android browser.

Kindle Fire Review

UPDATE: Since Amazon launched the Kindle Fire it has been tweaking the Silk browser to eliminate performance issues and improve functionality. The latest update in March, version 6.3 of the Kindle software, brought a feature called Reading View. This neat feature, identified by a pair of specs in the menu bar, allows you to eliminate all of the background commotion from a website and view an article, even if it's spread across multiple pages. It looks great and reads great, too.

Tech Specs

Product TypeTablet
Flash Memory Capacity8 GB
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Product FamilyKindle Fire
Operating System PlatformAndroid
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameAmazon
Form FactorSlate
Screen Size17.8 cm (7")
Screen Resolution1024 x 600
Weight (Approximate)6.62 kg
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
TouchscreenYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11b/g/n
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Height11.4 mm
Width190.5 mm
Depth119.4 mm
Screen ModeWSVGA
ManufacturerAmazon.com, Inc
Product ModelB0051VVOB2
Product NameKindle Fire Tablet Computer
Product LineKindle Fire
Aspect Ratio128:75
Manufacturer Part NumberB0051VVOB2
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.amazon.com
Marketing InformationStunning Color Touchscreen

Movies, magazines and children's books come alive on a 7" vibrant color touchscreen that delivers 16 million colors in high resolution. Kindle Fire uses IPS (in-plane switching) technology - similar technology to that used on the iPad - for an extra-wide viewing angle, perfect for sharing your screen with others.

Beautifully Simple and Easy to Use

Designed from the ground up, Kindle Fire's simple, intuitive interface puts the content you love at your fingertips - spin effortlessly through your recent titles and websites straight from the home screen. Whether you are in the mood to watch, read, listen, play or browse, you can get to all your favorite content with a single touch. It's that simple.

Limited Warranty1 Year