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Amazon's Kindle Fire HD: The other side of the story

JR Raphael | Sept. 10, 2012
Whew! Reading over tech tweets and headlines this morning, I damn-near became convinced that Amazon's new Kindle Fire HD tablets are game-changing, Nexus-slaying devices.

To be clear, Amazon's app store does have a lot of big-name applications available -- but plenty of popular items are M.I.A., including most apps that are tied to Google services (Google Voice, Google Talk, Google+, Google Drive/Docs, Google Play, Google Earth, Google Authenticator, and so forth) as well as Google's Chrome for Android browser. Numerous third-party applications are absent as well; it's really just hit and miss.

Another side effect: Since the Kindle Fire HD doesn't have access to the Google Play Store, any apps you've purchased on a regular Android device won't carry over (as they would when you signed into any regular Android tablet). The reason: App purchases are recorded and stored within the Play Store and linked to your Google account, so Amazon's independent store has no record of them. It's something I referred to as the "hidden app tax" when the first Kindle Fire came around, as existing Android users may end up having to repurchase apps in order to get them on their Amazon-made tablets.

(One note: If the Kindle Fire HD tablets are like the first-gen model, advanced users should be able to "sideload" apps onto the devices using APK files -- legally or illegally -- but let's face it, that isn't something the majority of users are going to do.)

5. Connectivity

Amazon's Kindle Fire HD tablets do have HDMI out-ports -- something Google's $200 Nexus 7 tablet lacks -- but they don't have GPS functionality, which limits not only mapping and navigation but also app-based location features. They also don't have NFC for contact-free sharing.

Bottom line

Amazon's new Kindle Fire HD devices certainly have a lot of eye-catching qualities, not least of all their price tags. But slapping on the "game-changer" label and declaring all similar devices "dead" based solely on a corporate presentation seems both silly and sensational.


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