The Fire HD features a strong plastic chassis with a completely matte-finished exterior. The front is a large multi-touch LCD display panel with just the 1.3-megapixel front camera, while the sides are flattened and the corners are rounded. The rear panel has a rubberised surface that lends more grip to the tablet and keeps it from slipping from your hands. The rear panel also sports two stereo Dolby speakers on each side. The frame is built well and cannot be opened for any accessory or expansions. What we mean here is that there are absolutely no slots for SIM cards or memory cards to expand the storage space. There are only two ports available on the bottom of the Fire HD—a microUSB interface for charging and connecting the tablet to a PC, and a micro HDMI video output. On the right side is a power/ standby switch, a volume rocker, and a 3.5mm jack for headphones. The Fire HD is definitely on the heavier side when it comes to tablets and you will need both hands to use it. On the 16GB version, you get 12.7GB of usable storage space, while the 32GB version gives you around 27.1GB of free space. Additionally, once you register the tablet with Amazon, you get around 5GB of cloud storage for free, which you can expand to 1TB by shelling out extra moolah. The tablet does not feature USB On-the-Go connectivity, so you can’t connect USB flash drives or data storage. The only option for increase the amount of storage space on the Kindle Fire HD would be to use a wireless storage or a shared storage resource while at home or at work. Using a personal NAS via the web could also help. On the connectivity front, the Fire HD features only Wi-Fi to let you connect to the Internet. The Wi-Fi module is of the dual-band (2.4GHz + 5GHz), dual-antenna type that incorporates two antennas instead of one (as used in the iPad) for better speed and bandwidth. Amazon claims that the Kindle has a throughput speed of a whopping 33MB/s as compared to the iPad, which stands at 23MB/s, and other Google tablets with single-band Wi-Fi modules that can reach speeds of 20MB/s. Amazon also claims that the Kindle Fire HD is the first tablet to feature Multiple In/Multiple Out (MIMO) technology for powerful, HD-ready Wi-Fi. This lets the module receive or transmit data over both antennas simultaneously to increase capacity and reliability. Lastly, powering the Kindle Fire HD is a 6000mAh battery that, according to Amazon, will last for 10 hours with continuous usage. The tablet does not bundle along a power charger and it is an optional accessory you’ll have to buy. The tablet only ships with a 5-foot-long microUSB cable that you can connnect to a computer and charge the battery. Except for the customised user interface, the Fire HD boasts of Android’s usual feature set. The tablet’s user interface feels smooth and nice owing to the customisation, tweaks and the dualcore processor. To gauge the actual performance, we ran some benchmarking apps on the tablet. Since the Amazon store does not have most of the more popular benchmarking tools, we had to enable ADB support on the tablet and sideload the apps using a third-party utility from a computer. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 scored 9499 points in AnTuTu, 2845 points in Quadrant, and 28.6 fps in NenaMark2. Linpack threw up scores of 58.8 MFLOPS and 93.6 MFLOPS in the single-thread and multi-thread tests respectively. All the scores together reveal that this tablet performs a little better than most other tablets with dual-core processors.
Unlike other Android tablets or smartphones, the Kindle Fire HD doesn’t have a launcher. The home screen comprises of a simple Recent Apps carousel, a Top Categories label and a notification panel. Towards the top left of the screen is a notification panel that can be accessed by pulling it down. Icon toggle switches such as rotation lock, volume, brightness, wireless, sync and more are available within the notification panel. While most of the buttons are self-explanatory, touching the sync button synchronises the apps you have purchased from the full-fledged Amazon Appstore website. Apps bought from the online store are not downloaded automatically to the tablet like in Android tablets and smartphones. The 16GB and 32GB versions of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 are priced at Rs 21,999 and Rs 25,999 respectively. While the prices might seem to be a little high, the device’s build quality, smooth user interface, above average performance, full HD IPS display, Dolby speakers and good battery life together make it quite a good buy. The factors that can go against the Kindle Fire are the absence of essential features like USB OTG for 3G dongles, no support for expandable microSD cards, and the optional charger.