Amazon Kindle Fire HD full review

Kindle Fire personal photos

UPDATE: With the launch of the Kindle Fire HDX tablets, Amazon has now discontinued the original Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire HD remains on sale at £119, as a 'previous generation' product. There are no configuration options for this model: it has 16GB of storage and there's no option to remove the special offers on the lock screen. This is confusing as there's an updated 'All new' Kindle Fire HD with an upgraded processor. This starts at £119 as well, but with only 8GB of storage. If you're considering a second-hand Kindle Fire, you'll find useful information here. For the latest buying advice, see our 14 best tablets of 2013 chart.

See also: Kindle Fire HD vs Kindle Fire HD 8.9 review and Nook HD review

Kindle Fire vs Kindle Fire HD comparison review: Price

The Fire originally cost £129, making it £30 cheaper than the Fire HD. This is now a moot point since you can't buy the Fire any more. Bear in mind that both tablets will display 'special offers' on the lock screen unless you opt for the version without them - this bumps the price by £10. If buying second hand, you might want to check if the original owner paid to remove the ads or not.

Some people might find these deals a handy way of grabbing a bargain, while others might be annoyed by them. We've heard reports of users complaining that their tablet turns on from standby to display these offers, although it didn't happen during our time with them.

Fire and Fire HD lock screens special offers

Kindle Fire vs Kindle Fire HD: Design

The Fire has thinner borders around the screen than the Fire HD, and looks less clunky and old fashioned. It still won't win any style awards, and it's not especially light at 400g - the same weight as the Fire HD, give or take.

The Fire measures 189 x 120 x 11.5mm, making it 17mm shorter and a fraction thicker. Its design is different to the Fire HD in that it's very similar to a traditional E-ink Kindle, and designed to be used in portrait mode.

Both speakers are at the top, with the power button on the bottom. On the Fire HD, the speakers are on either side in landscape mode, which is great for watching videos.

Oddly, the Fire has no physical volume buttons, which is an annoyance. Next to the power button is a micro USB connector for sync and charging, and a standard headphone jack.

Note that neither tablet comes with a mains charger - you have to buy this (the PowerFast) separately for £18 (although it was reduced to £9 when bought with the tablet at the time of writing). You can, of course, buy any USB charger which provides 5V at 1.8A.

Kindle Fire vs Kindle Fire HD: Screen

For £119 (only £9 more than a Kindle Paperwhite), the Kindle Fire is a 7in tablet with an IPS (in-plane switching) screen. This is the same type as used in iPads and means vibrant colours and wide viewing angles. The Kindle Fire's screen also happens to have great contrast.

The 1024x600 resolution is better than most tablets at this price, but everything looks noticeably fuzzier than on the Kindle Fire HD's 1280x800 screen (and much worse than the Nook HD's fantastic 1440x900 display).

You particularly notice the lower resolution when browsing the web, but for reading books and watching videos, it's fine.

Kindle Fire main menu

The other difference is that the Fire has only a two-point touchscreen, whereas the Fire HD can detect up to 10 fingers at once. This is of little consequence, though, since two fingers are all that's required for most things such as pinching to zoom.

Kindle Fire vs Kindle Fire HD: Storage

This is one of the Kindle Fire's weak areas. There's only one model, and it has 8GB of storage. After the OS and other system files are accounted for, there's around 5.5GB for your own stuff: apps, books, music, movies and photos. That's not a lot, and there's no memory card slot for adding more.

You get free cloud storage for all the content you buy from Amazon but it's hardly convenient to have to delete apps and other media from your tablet because you've run out of space locally.

With the Fire HD, you have a choice of 16GB or 32GB. Again, the user storage is a few GB less in each case.

Kindle Fire vs Kindle Fire HD: Camera

If Skype is a priority, don't buy the Kindle Fire - it has no camera at all. The Fire HD has a 1.3Mp front-facing camera which can also record 720p video (if you download a third-party app which has this capability).

Kindle Fire vs Fire HD

Next page: connectivity, software, performance, battery life and extras