Popular American online store Amazon started its India operations in June. Two of its popular gadgets — Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Paperwhite — are now officially available in the country on the store’s Indian website, amazon.in. The company plans to increase sales of products on its online store through these gadgets. Let’s see how these gadgets measure up.
KINDLE FIRE HD
The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 isn’t a head-turner, but is a well-built tablet. The matte finish on the rear panel gives it a good grip. The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD weighs 567 grams, which is slightly heavier than other tablets of the same size. If weight is your primary concern, you can go for the 7-inch Kindle Fire
HD (395 g).
The Fire HD 8.9’s 1,920x1,200-pixel display is fantastic. The screen, however, is reflective, which is troublesome when a light source is behind the user. The touchscreen is quite responsive. The speaker’s volume and sound quality is neat, and improves considerably with a good pair of headphones.
Even though it runs Android, the Kindle Fire HD’s user interface has no traces of Google’s operating system. The home screen has a “carousel”, which displays large icons of frequently used apps and books, and a panel at the bottom shows related items. For instance, if a book is on the carousel, you will see related books based on what people have bought from Amazon.
The tablet performs well and apart from a couple of times when the software froze, there were no issues. The tablet lasted over a day on moderate usage which included playing HD movies, music, browsing the internet and using apps.
Google Play Store has excellent phone apps, but the quality of tablet apps is poor. Kindle Fire HD doesn’t have Google Play Store, instead has an Amazon app store. The biggest advantage is that all apps look great on the tablet as developers have to optimise their apps for Kindle Fire before they can be uploaded to the store. The downside is that the number of apps on Amazon’s store is low.
The Fire HD is competitively priced at Rs 15,999 (7 inches) and Rs 21,999 (8.9 inches).
Amazon’s foray into the ebook market has been very successful, largely due to the Kindle ebook reader. The Paperwhite has Amazon’s e-ink display, which is a black-and-white screen that looks just like paper.
Sceptics claim that nothing can replace printed books, but Kindle Paperwhite comes very close to proving them wrong. The beauty of this device lies in the “immersive” reading experience, which means as long as the book is interesting, users will forget that they are reading it in an electronic form. If you are among those who read books in trains or on flights, a 170-gram device that can hold over 1,000 books is a great choice.
This is a touchscreen device, so users just need to tap the sides to switch pages; tapping the top of the screen leads to other options. The screen is backlit, which means you can read at night too. But the Kindle doesn’t have an auto-brightness setting, so you’ll waste some time hitting the right level.
On a single charge, the device lasted for nearly four days of eight-hour reading sessions on medium brightness and 3G. Without 3G, it ran out of charge after a week of similar usage. Amazon’s Whispersync is a good feature that syncs your library, last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across all your devices. With Kindle reading apps available for phones, tablets, PCs, and Macs, you can keep reading even if you forget to carry your Kindle.
But the Kindle is not for all readers. The black-and-white display makes it useless for reading most comics and graphic novels. And at Rs 10,999 for WiFi only (Rs 13,999 for 3G), the Kindle Paperwhite is expensive. If you read over 20 books a year, it is a good investment, or else you can get the old Kindle for Rs 5,999, which doesn’t have a backlit screen.