Saturday, December 17, 2016

My opinion on Amazon Fire tablet 7"

After I got the fiasco that is the Amazon Fire Phone, I swore not to buy any hardware made by Amazon. Unfortunately I got this Fire tablet as a present so I had no say in the matter.

So what can I say about this tablet? Same thing that I could say about Amazon Fire Phone - it sucks. Are there some good things about it? Yes, but they are well overshadowed by the bad things.

What are the good things you may ask? Well the tablet appears to be well made and sturdy. I have never owned a cheap tablet so I can't really compare. But this tablet does not feel cheaply made. Screen quality is also very good, the colors are vibrant and the screen is sharp and easy to read. The performance is OK for the price. I would not say this tablet is a great performer, in fact it is pretty slow. But that is to be expected at this price point. Apps take a second or two to start but nothing too bad. Micro SD storage is a nice touch. Tablet itself only has a bit over 4GB of free memory so Micro SD card is very useful. The tablet comes with a nice and fast charger, which is also pretty compact.

Where are the bad things, you may ask. So far it all looks pretty good. Well I will start with the small thing - included USB cable. It is of terrible quality. The cheapest I have ever seen! A lot of people complain that their USB socket on the Fire tablet goes bad. Meet the culprit - included USB cable. It fits in to the socket way too tight and one can't help but to break the socket. When it did not fit I immediately discarded it and used higher quality cable. Fire Phone cable was of much nicer quality but of course for much higher price.

And now for the worst thing of all - Amazon Fire OS, or if we call it what it really is, a bastardized version of Android 5.something. The interface is horrible and not user friendly at all.  The only goal of this software is to push you in to Amazon store at every opportunity. Congratulations, you just paid $50 for the privilege to constantly be reminded that you can buy this or that on Amazon. In fact you can't use almost any built it applications without registering tablet with your Amazon account.
The included Silk browser is an abomination, it crashes constantly on any website with complex content. You probably can use it to check email and maybe Wikipedia but that is about it. And there is no Firefox or Chrome in Amazon app store or in fact any decent browser available for Fire in Amazon store.
There is no file manager included, however you can install one from the app store. Also no Gmail app which is used by most people as far as I have seen.
The settings are greatly cut down and most of the controls that normal Android offers are not available. For example there is no way to track which apps use data and which apps use battery. I would give 0 stars for settings. Fire Phone offered most of the Android settings.
The battery life of this device is terrible, much worse than I would expect. Could be that the larger screen uses more energy but I have another 7" tablet which does not have this problem. I am mostly using this tablet for reading on the lowest brightness and I would say the battery life is maybe 5 hours.
And another thing is that screen is too bright on the minimal setting. It is much brighter than any of other devices that I have and maybe that is what drains the battery. And what idiot came up with "Blue Shade"? Who would want to read orange text on red background at high brightness?
There is a great amount of Amazon junk installed on the tablet. There are various metering applications and other spyware from Amazon. There are total 104 packages from Amazon on this tablet, including remote device administration. Do you really want a tablet that can be controlled by Amazon?
So over all I would not recommend this tablet unless you want to be a part of crippled Amazon ecosystem. Just get a bit more expensive android tablet which has Google play store and runs normal Android.

I would only recommend this to a technically minded person, who can replace the software with CM12 or with AOSP which both are available XDA forums. Although rooting this tablet was a hit and miss experience for me. At the end I was able to root it and will be replacing Amazon OS with normal Android as soon as I find the time.