Hands-on Amazon Kindle Fire Android tablet

Amazon finally made the Kindle Fire Android tablet official this morning and we were able to get our hands on this Android-powered tablet. While there are some features that are missing that some may be disappointed with – namely the camera – the Kindle Fire is a very nice-looking tablet that should move a ton of units this holiday season.

The Kindle Fire sports a 7-inch IPS touchscreen display with a very wide viewing angle, at a resolution of 1024 x 600, and the overall form factor reminds us of the BlackBerry PlayBook. That’s not a bad thing, as we really dug RIM’s tablet and the Kindle Fire brings a similar high-quality build quality and a nice portable form factor. It has just the right amount of heft, has a nice screen and sports a pretty minimalist.

While the Kindle Fire is based on Android, don’t expect the familiar user interface to pop up, as Amazon has built its own software using Android as the foundation. It’s fluid, beautiful and very, very easy to get to your content and to purchase more from the variety of Amazon services that are preloaded. Amazon offers the goods for music, videos, apps and more and the 1 GHz TI OMAP 4 processor means it can handle nearly anything you can throw at it.

The Amazon App Store will be the only way to add new apps to your device. There will also be a customized WebKit-based browser known as Amazon Silk which is pretty darn smooth, has tabs and provides an above average web browsing experience. Amazon has split the browser load between the app and the cloud, so it will optimize content before delivering it to your Kindle Fire, which makes browsing much faster (i.e. sending a 3MB image as a 50kb image if quality won’t be affected). Pretty cool stuff. There is also a built-in email client so you don’t have to handle that over the web browser.

So, what’s missing? Well, the Amazon Kindle Fire is meant to be an uber-consumption device, so I guess it’s not weird to see no cameras on these things. Amazon will be providing you unlimited cloud storage for your multimedia and e-book content but that 8 GB of storage could be a pain when you don’t have a connection – like on a cross-country flight.

Overall, this is a high-quality first attempt by Amazon and the $199 price point is extremely attractive. This isn’t the most powerful tablet out there but it’s definitely a good one if you’re comfortable with Amazon’s ecosystem.

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