Ever since Amazon unveiled the first Kindle Fire tablet, its devices have broken price barriers and offered a compelling alternative to more-expensive iOS devices. While the exact attractiveness of these tablets has always depended on whether or not you were plugged into Amazon’s ecosystem, they’ve been a popular alternative, particularly if you don’t want Google hoovering up every scrap of your personal information. Unfortunately, that may be about to change.
When the $50 Fire tablet debuted a few weeks ago, its many shortcomings and problems were balanced by its $50 price tag. When a tablet costs about as much as dinner and a movie date night, you can expect that it’s going to compromise. The Fire HD 10, on the other hand, has a number of problems of its own — only this time, it’s debuting at $229, not $50. There are already multiple reviews of the tablet online, and all of them bring up a common series of problems:
It’s slow: Everyone mentions this. The Fire HD 10 is based on MediaTek’s MT8135 SoC, which packs two Cortex-A15 cores and a pair of Cortex-A7 cores in a big.Little configuration. Amazon calls this a quad-core, which verges on false advertising (but one that’s scarcely unique to Amazon or MediaTek). It’s clocked at 1.5GHz (A15) and 1.2GHz on the A7 cores, which means it doesn’t bring much in the way of clock speed to the table, either. The chip is comparatively old, lacks 64-bit support, and is underpowered for a tablet. The Tegra 4, for example, packed four Cortex-A15 cores at 1.9GHz. Smartphones like the Galaxy S4 used arrays of four Cortex-A15 chips, not just two. In short, this is not enough for a 2015 tablet, and the bottom-end Series 6 GPU (G6200) helps nothing, either.
Amazon may be able to fix some issues with patches, but I doubt they can change the nature of the problem. This is what happens when you use 2012 tech from a low-end SoC manufacturer in a 2015 device.
The screen is second-rate: Historically, Amazon has offered tablets with a good mixture of resolution and screen size. Its very first Kindle Fire, released in 2011, had a 169 PPI. The Kindle HD family (or Fire HD) have always bounced between 216 and 254 PPI, up until now. The Kindle HD 8 has a 189 PPI screen and the Kindle HD 10 has a 149 PPI screen. No, it’s not illegible, but every review written thus far points out that content is fuzzy at the edges. Amazon’s response to large-screen tablets from Microsoft, Apple, and other vendors has been to release its lowest-quality (in terms of pixel visibility) display ever.
It exists to sell you things: Every version of the Kindle Fire / Fire family has existed to sell you things, at least to some extent. Amazon has always been up-front that the point of these devices is to hook you deeper into the Amazon ecosystem. Mashable reports that the new FireOS 5 devotes much more screen space to trying to sell you content, including pop-over ads that appear while you’re reading existing content. The general consensus seems to be that while FireOS 5 organizes your existing libraries more effectively and is pleasant to use, it also spends a lot of energy tossing ads and “You might also like..” at readers. Laptop noted that Amazon tried to sell him different versions of a book he already owns, three separate times.
Thus far, no one is seriously recommending the HD Fire 10. Laptop notes “A chintzy design, low-resolution display, lackluster cameras, and sluggish performance make the Amazon Fire 10 feel less than the sum of its parts.” Fortune writes “the Fire HD 10’s middling performance and low-resolution screen serve as stark reminders that you get what you pay for.” Mashable is the only review site to draw even a tenuously positive conclusion.
When Amazon blew the Fire Phone launch, most industry analysts wrote it off as a once-off mistake from a company that had served up years of hits. This is the third mediocre hardware platform Amazon has launched in the past 12 months, and the second to set a price point that’s completely unattractive given its feature set. We don’t know who’s making these calls, but it looks like Amazon is trying to coast on past achievements rather than continue to offer a midrange Android platform worth buying.
Source: Extreme Tech