Shopping? Check out our latest product comparisons

Kindle Fire HD vs. Kindle Fire

By

October 2, 2012

Holiday shoppers will have more Kindle Fires to choose from in 2012

Holiday shoppers will have more Kindle Fires to choose from in 2012

Image Gallery (11 images)

In the short history of tablets, one of the key figures has been the Kindle Fire. Before its launch, the market was basically the untouchable iPad vs. a bunch of geeked-up Android slates, collecting Best Buy dust. Then the Fire marched in with its familiar branding, Blackberry Playbook-inspired design, and – most importantly – rock-bottom price. Though sales eventually flattened, Amazon's tablet was a holiday sensation.

Here we are a year later, and its inevitable sequel is upon us. This year Amazon came with two brand new tablets (three if you count the pricier LTE version), and an improved version of the original Kindle Fire. The new 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD doesn't launch until November, but the two seven-inch devices - the Kindle Fire HD (7") and (upgraded) Kindle Fire are available now.

How do these two budget media devices stack up? Let's take a look:

Dimensions

The physical dimensions aren't drastically different

The physical dimensions aren't drastically different

The most notable physical change in the Kindle Fire HD is its width: it measures over 17 mm wider than its older sibling. Otherwise, we're looking at two similarly-proportioned tablets. The Kindle Fire HD is also a smidge longer and a hair thinner than its counterpart.

Weight

Weight is a close call - the Fire HD is a hair lighter

Weight is a close call - the Fire HD is a hair lighter

The Fire HD is a bit lighter than the Fire SD. However, this probably isn't a big enough difference to influence your buying decision.

Display

The upgraded display is one of the big draws of the Kindle Fire HD

The upgraded display is one of the big draws of the Kindle Fire HD

This is the Kindle Fire HD's killer feature. Though it isn't on par with the display in Amazon's upcoming 8.9-inch version, it still adds some pixels over the standard Fire. Its 216 pixels per inch (ppi) will lead to sharper text and clearer images.

Processor

The Kindle Fire HD has a newer version of (essentially) the same TI OMAP processor

The Kindle Fire HD has a newer version of (essentially) the same TI OMAP processor

Both devices feature dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP chips, clocked at 1.2 GHz. The Fire HD features the newer OMAP4460, but there shouldn't be a dramatic difference in performance.

RAM

RAM is evenly matched

RAM is evenly matched

Both seven-inch Fires feature a full gigabyte of RAM. This is one category where the 2012 standard Kindle Fire was upgraded over its 2011 predecessor, which only carried 512 MB.

Storage

Internal storage also saw an upgrade in the Fire HD

Internal storage also saw an upgrade in the Fire HD

In addition to the improved display, this is another big upgrade for the Kindle Fire HD. It features 16 GB of internal flash memory, compared to a mere 8 GB in the standard Fire. For an extra US$50, Amazon will sell you a Fire HD with 32 GB of storage.

Battery

Amazon claims that the new Fire HD will get a few more hours out of each charge

Amazon claims that the new Fire HD will get a few more hours out of each charge

According to Amazon's estimates, the battery in the Kindle Fire HD will last 2.5 hours longer than that of the SD Fire. If you're apt to lengthy video-watching or game-playing sessions while on the go, the Fire HD could be worth the extra $40.

Wireless

If you want mobile data, you'll need to wait for the 8.9-inch version in late November

If you want mobile data, you'll need to wait for the 8.9-inch version in late November

Both seven-inch slates are Wi-Fi-only affairs. If you want mobile data on your Kindle Fire, then you'll want to hold out for the $499 LTE-enabled version of the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD.

Camera

The Fire HD has a front-facing camera; no camera for the standard Fire

The Fire HD has a front-facing camera; no camera for the standard Fire

Here's another category where the Fire HD deviates from the cheaper model: it adds a front-facing camera for video chat. Neither slate has a rear-facing camera.

Intangibles

Your eyes may like the Fire HD's display; your piggy bank may like the standard Fire

Your eyes may like the Fire HD's display; your piggy bank may like the standard Fire

The sexiest feature in the seven-inch model is its display. Though its 216 ppi falls well short of the 3rd-gen iPad's 264 ppi, you won't see many other $200 tablets with resolution that high (the Nexus 7 is another). If you want a real eye-popping experience in your Kindle Fire, though, you'll want to wait for the 8.9-inch model.

Amazon released the 2012 SD Kindle Fire to hit an even lower price point. Customers who have avoided tablets thus far may look at its $159 price tag and take the plunge.

One "feature" that both tablets share is the presence of ads. Though they're mostly unobtrusive, Amazon is partially subsidizing these devices with its "special offers." If you want to remove the advertisements, you'll have to drop an extra $15 through the Manage Your Kindle menu.

Summing Up

Are either of these tablets game-changers? Not likely. They're both relatively minor upgrades over last year's Kindle Fire – bringing slightly better hardware to the budget segment of the tablet market. For $500 you can do much better, but if you're on a budget of $200 or less, your dollars go a bit farther than they did a year go.

Some image elements sampled from HowStuffWorks and Big Site of Amazing Facts

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin covers consumer technology for Gizmag. He's previously written for Android Central, Geek, GottaBeMobile, Android Police, and The Huffington Post.
He lives in New Mexico, U.S., with his lovely wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
1 Comment

Can you get a wireless keyboard for the non-HD variety? I would like one, but I only see listings for the KFHD so far...

Facebook User
18th November, 2012 @ 06:53 pm PST
Post a Comment

Login with your gizmag account:

Or Login with Facebook:


Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our 27,879 articles