The Kindle Fire is a tempting tablet at $159, but the Kindle Fire HD brings a better screen, better speakers and more storage for just $40 more.
In this comparison we’ll take a look at areas where the Kindle Fire HD offers more than the Kindle Fire and which users will see the most benefit from spending the extra $40 to buy the Kindle Fire HD over the Kindle Fire.
Both tablets offer access to the Amazon Kindle book library, Amazon Instant video rentals and the Amazon App Store for Android apps.
The Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD both feature a 7-inch display, but the Kindle Fire HD has the upper hand in several areas.
The Fire HD offers a 1280 x 800 resolution capable of showing movies in 720P, compared to the lackluster 1024 x 600 resolution found on the Kindle Fire. The higher resolution also means a better pixel density for the Kindle Fire HD, which means text looks sharper and clearer on the HD model, something users will notice while reading.
Note how the text is much crisper on the Kindle Fire HD’s display (above) compared to the original Kindle Fire (below).
Another important feature missing from the entry-level Kindle Fire is 10-finger multi-touch support. The Kindle Fire HD allows users to use all ten fingers to interact with games and apps. This is important for some multiplayer and single player games, and any app that involves musical instruments. The Kindle Fire only allows for two-finger multi-touch.
Design and Features
The Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD are of similar size and design, but there are differences.
The Kindle Fire is heavier and thicker than the Fire HD, but not drastically so. Most users won’t notice the 0.2 oz weight difference or the slightly thicker frame of the cheaper Kindle Fire, but the Kindle Fire HD is noticeably wider. The Kindle Fire HD is 0.68-inches wider than the Kindle Fire.
The Kindle Fire HD trades the angled edges of the original Kindle Fire for curved edges, but uses the same matte black finish as the Kindle Fire.
The Kindle Fire HD shows improvements in speaker and port placement over the Kindle Fire, upgrading the user experience to Dolby audio and placing dual-driver speakers on both sides of the device, instead of one side.
Amazon moved the headphone and charging port to the bottom of the Kindle Fire HD and added a Micro HDMI connection for playing movies from the Fire HD to a HDTV. This makes it easier to watch a movie with headphones on while charging the Kindle Fire HD.
The Kindle Fire HD also uses a new dual WiFi antenna design that delivers faster connections so videos should start streaming faster and users should experience better WiFi reception with compatible routers.
The Kindle Fire HD features Bluetooth connectivity so users can pair with a headset or with a Bluetooth keyboard, neither of which are possible with the Kindle Fire.
The Kindle Fire HD includes a front facing HD video camera designed with video chatting in mind. The Kindle Fire HD includes Skype pre-installed so users can chat with friends and family. The Kindle Fire does not include a camera.
The Kindle Fire HD camera also takes photos using apps found in the Amazon App Store, so users can share photos. Neither tablet features a rear facing camera for taking photos of people or to use as a scanner.
Performance & Battery Life
As part of the $40 price hike, the Kindle Fire HD comes with more memory, 16GB compared to 8GB on the Kindle Fire. This means users have more room to store movies, apps and photos.
The Kindle Fire HD features a slightly faster processor, but that shouldn’t be the deciding factor in purchasing one tablet or the other. The Kindle Fire includes an accelerometer , but gamers will appreciate the Kindle Fire HD’s gyroscope that allows for controlling some apps.
The Kindle Fire gets nine hours on a single charge compared to 11 hours on the Kindle Fire HD, according to Amazon claims. These battery life claims are for reading, browsing the web on WiFi, watching video, or listening to music.
What’s the Same
Both of the Kindle Fire models include the same Kindle Fire software, with access to the Amazon App Store, Kindle Book Store and other services like Amazon Prime Instant Streaming and the Lending Library.
Users can also connect to email, edit documents with apps and access to WhisperSync, a new way to keep book progress, game progress, video progress and audiobook progress in sync across devices.
Parents can limit children’s usage of the Kindle Fire and Fire HD with Kindle FreeTime, a tool that allows for limits on certain activities and leave others, like reading, unlimited.
Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD
Given all the added features of the Kindle Fire HD, and the relatively small price of upgrading to the Kindle Fire HD, it’s an easy recommendation.
Some users may be happy with the Kindle Fire at $159, but for $40 more they can video chat, connect Bluetooth accessories, gain an HD display with 10-finger multi-touch and HDMI connectivity.
Buyers should try to save up for the Kindle Fire HD, and gift givers may want to give a gift card and let the buyer decide if the Kindle Fire HD’s price is too high to give as a gift.
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