The design is sleek and lovely to handle. The Kindle Fire is surprisingly heavy and feels like you could run it over with a tank. There is only one button on the bottom, which controls the device's on/wake and off/sleep functions. The lack of physical buttons gives the Fire the ability to maximize the Gorilla Glass LCD. There is just a thin rim framing the LCD to remind you that you aren't staring at a flat hologram. Overall it is intuitive and easy to grasp.
|Netflix Streams Well|
|Enter the Void looks great!|
The LCD is vibrant and extremely smooth with video playback. *Refer to my picture of Enter The Void streaming on the Netflix app* At first there are some digital artifacts when streaming Netflix or Prime videos, but the bit rates realign after a few seconds, which results in some of the best video playback I have seen on a mobile device. I also jumped on IMDB to watch some trailers revealing that the buffer-time was instant and the video (again was) crystal clear. One downfall (not of playback) is that you can't download Prime movies to the device to watch offline. The Fire being a cloud device will have such drawbacks since there is no 3G support.
In short it plays them smoothly. Plants Vs Zombies ran without the slightest hiccup. Then again I only played for a about 15 minutes. Maybe the later levels with huge amounts of plant types and zombies would bog it down. I sincerely doubt it though. Symphony of Eternity and Bejeweled 2 also played seamlessly.
Let's face it, a hell of a lot of sitting around the Fire (see what I did there?) will be spent on Facebook. The app provided by Amazon is the same as any other Facebook app. It works well. One thing I do like is that there is a sidebar menu that can be collapsed, which gives you shortcuts to your Groups, Feed, Places, Etc. This is a nice addition. The only downfall I see so far is looking at pictures. To see a image full-sized you actually have to download the picture to your device. This is a bit annoying. The app doesn't allow a pinch zoom or a double tap at all. Nonetheless it works well for surfing your feed and dropping comments on people's lame status updates.
I was worried about reading a book on a tablet. I hate reading things on my computer and phone so I figured the Fire may give me the same headache. So far it has been a dream. I switch the text scheme to one where the background tan and text is a dark brown and my eyes seem to adjust fine.
One of the main magnets I felt pulling at me from the Fire was the Amazon MP3 Store. I buy all of my music on the MP3 Store and have over 200Gigs of music stored in the Cloud. I was worried when I read reviews where some people complained that there was a hiss created by the device when listening to music in headphones or on nice speakers. I tested it on 7.1 surround sound headphones. No intelligible hiss. I then hooked it up to my surround sound system to investigate further. Nothing. Time to get some new headphones tech-gadget-reviewer folks.
You can't beat the price. $199 is an amazing price for a damn good piece of hardware. It also comes with a free month of Prime, which adds great value, especially if you buy it before you do all of your Christmas shopping on Amazon. I will most likely save 1/3 to 1/2 of the cost of the device just in free 2 day shipping this Holiday Season. So, if you have a few hundred bucks to blow, get it. If you need ideas for gifts, this one is hitting you like the broad side of a barn.