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Be aware! No camera; no microphone; no HDMI out; the Kindle Fire HD has been dumbed down - would a refurbed MK1 suit you better?
on 2 August 2014
I bought this Kindle to lighten my load, literally. I'm a writer, and have a full sized iPad with very nice bolt-on keyboard for all my heavy lifting. But day to day, it's just that - heavy lifting. I thought if I could run Evernote and a couple of other key cross-platform cloud-style apps on the Kindle, I could leave the iPad at home most of the time. As a Prime customer I was offered a discount, and, having played on my friend's Kindle Fire HD, I took the plunge and bought it.
How I wish I'd read A Cook's review on this page before I impulsively pressed that button.
Because it turns out a Kindle Fire HD isn't a Kindle Fire HD. And a man could be forgiven for being confused.
The model I received was slightly slimmer than my friend's Fire HD. Ah! Sexy! Must be the new model, I thought, and it turns out it is. However - and it's a major however - to achieve this slimming, and notably some price slimming, they've chucked a few unnecessary items overboard. Like the camera. And the HDMI output. And.... The Microphone. The microphone?? How much weight and cost did *that* save?!
Naturally, I discovered this the hard way. Having successfully loaded Evernote onto my new Kindle, and got my lightweight foldout bluetooth keyboard paired with it, and feeling all smug and excited I made some typed notes, went to make a quick additional voice note, pressed the mic icon in the app... and... nothing.
That's when I went looking for the mic, and after phoning my friend - "Well, mine's got a camera and a mic; are you sure yours hasn't?" - I phoned Amazon up to ask, because I couldn't believe that *anyone* would put out a piece of high tech media interaction equipment these days that didn't have at least a cheap rudimentary mic on board, let alone take it out of one they already made while keeping the name of the product the same. You kind of expect certain features to be standard, not only available with the (new) top product in the range, (which is perhaps what this omission is really all about). The customer services chap was great, and we arranged a return as I need to be able to make voice notes for my work. He suggested picking up a refurbished previous generation Fire HD that does have the features I need. We found one and I bought it straight away.
But in most other respects, the product in its latest guise is nice: it's light, compact, stylish and quick. You'll need to sidestep Amazon's protective policy on apps to get anything like a good range of choice, but that's possible. And it's quite possible that you won't need a camera or mic (or HDMI) ever. If so, this is a great little device that's definitely worth the money. But if you don't mind a refurb, you can get one from Amazon themselves for £30 cheaper (or exactly the same money if you're a Prime customer) that has all the above missing features, and with either double or quadruple the internal memory. I would, wouldn't you?
********** Lengthy Gripey Post Script Thought That's More For Amazon Than Prospective Purchasers Of This Product *************
I like Amazon. That's why I have Prime Membership. And the customer service department resolved my issue with this item in exemplary fashion. I want to make that clear.
Because after my surprise discovery and disappointment in the product, I went back to the product description page to see if I’d just missed something really obvious, and I want to call yah boo on the way Amazon's Kindle marketing team have made things *un*clear. They cover themselves, but it’s sly copy, is what it is.
I reckon I'm the umpteenth customer who has returned one of these, because tucked away beneath the LARGE PRINT special offer, there's a smaller print discrete little line that says "we want you to know... Learn more about design decisions and feature changes to help make an informed purchase", beneath which there's a larger, bold font exciting list describing all the fantastic features, and making no mention of missing bits. Oh - wait - the words 'Learn more' are actually in blue - I didn't even see it the first time - indicating it's a link to the things that perhaps Amazon really, really want you to know to inform your purchase decision.
And that link leads you to this:
"Kindle Fire HD replaces our previous generation entry-level Kindle Fire. It is our most affordable tablet ever, with an improved, high resolution HD display, a faster processor and longer battery life. Kindle Fire HD also has a new lightweight design, with a smaller bezel and improved button placements and is available with either 8GB or 16GB of memory.
Just like our previous generation Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD does not feature a camera, microphone or HDMI port.
Apps and services requiring a camera or microphone—like Skype and the "Mayday" button—are not compatible with this device. If these features are important to you, you may be interested to learn about our new family of Kindle Fire HDX tablets, starting at £199.
For a more detailed comparison of Kindle Fire features and services, please visit our comparison chart."
And even here, in this apparent effort to be clear this is purposely misleading copy.
"Kindle Fire HD replaces our previous generation entry-level Kindle Fire." Well, it does *now*, apparently, but up *until* now it was a higher spec different model. The wording pretends something called a Kindle Fire HD didn't already exist, a marked upgrade from a standard Fire, with its HD screen, and camera and mic for Skype etc. "Just like our previous generation Kindle Fire" is a sly way of airbrushing the previous generation Kindle Fire HD out of history. The phrase "you may be interested to learn about our new family of Kindle Fire HDX tablets, starting at £199" is the key.
And of course, visiting the comparative table waaaaaay down the page beneath lots of other stuff, the HD is compared only to the new HDXs - there's no reason to suspect the original spec of the HD has changed, or that there ever was a Mk 1, because the Mk1 and Mk 2 are not compared in the table. And let's face it, when a new version of a tech product is released, we do naturally expect it to be better, so anyone that thinks they know what a Kindle Fire HD is will not be looking here.
Even the topline description is playing the same game. "All new Kindle Fire HD" - Yaaay! A new model of the existing Fire HD. "Our 7" Kindle Fire, now in HD." Waaaaait a minute......
My point is this: it's clever copy on a difficult spin, but by purposely glossing over the fact that the HD has been dumbed down to make the new HDX more attractive at its price point, it's misleading. And it's just not... It's just not Amazon, dammit. I expect more from you!