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Amazon Kindle Fire review roundup

The Kindle Fire hits shelves this week. So how does the first-ever Amazon tablet stack up? 

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The memory

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The Fire, writes the team at FoxNews.com, "has 8 gigabytes of storage. That's enough for more books than you'll ever read, but ten movies will eat up the whole thing. The cheapest iPad, which costs $499, has twice as much memory. The Nook Color, which costs $199, also has 8 gigabytes, but it comes with a slot for memory expansion with cheap cards. I don't understand why the Fire doesn't have a slot like that. The very first Kindle did. There's no step-up model of the Fire with more memory. Amazon says the Fire doesn't need more memory because the company provides an online storage locker, where you can stuff all your music and other content. That works when you have Wi-Fi coverage, but not otherwise – the Fire doesn't have the ability to use cellular networks, as some of the monochrome models do."

Video

"For every sin it commits as a reading device, the Fire atones with a good deed in video playback," writes Jon Phillips of Wired. "The Fire’s wide-aspect-ratio video content plays in a 7-inch window. While this window isn’t 720p (and therefore not true HD), it still holds up well to the 720p windows of the 9.7-inch iPad (9 inches at 720p) and all those 10.1-inch Android 3.0 tablets (9.75 inches at 720p)... Amazon has dug its hooks into sundry video content sources, and this is where the Fire shines brightest: For $200 you get a perfectly serviceable video player that can stream video from three key, big-name sources. Likewise, in terms of video noise and compression artifacts, the quality of all the content I streamed and downloaded from Amazon’s store was serviceable to good."

The browser

"Oh, and that much bandied browser, Silk? It works just as well as Amazon said – pages rendered fine and rapidly, thanks to the cloud-crunching, and can be bookmarked, emailed (via Amazon's capable little native client), Facebook shared – and yes, tabbed," writes Biddle of Gizmodo. "Silk is as real a browser as mobile Safari, and ultra legible thanks to that book-worthy display. Pinch it! Zoom it! It's great." 

The final word

"[T]he Kindle Fire is great value and perhaps the best, tightest integration of digital content acquisition into a mobile device that we've yet seen," concludes Stevens of Engadget. "Instead of having a standalone shopping app the entire tablet is a store – a 7-inch window sold at a cut-rate price through which users can look onto a sea of premium content. It isn't a perfect experience, but if nothing else it's a promising look into the future of retail commerce."

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