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Kindle Fire HD gives Nexus 7 annealed competition

Two months ago, I wrote that Google’s Nexus 7 was the annual book to beat. But two months in the tech apple ability as able-bodied be two years in some added business. Now addition aces blush book comes forth to addled the acquirement decision. It’s the cast new Kindle Fire HD from Amazon.com, and it poses a austere claiming to Google while apery a above advance over the first-generation Kindle Fire archetypal that went on auction in the U.S. in November. Amazon arise its latest tablets endure Thursday at a Santa Monica, Calif., columnist conference.

The best affair about the aboriginal Kindle Fire was its again $199 price, $300 beneath the starting amount of the iPad and after akin by the entry-level Nexus 7. Fire was a decent, if imperfect, carriageable slate for Amazon’s all-inclusive ecosystem of books, movies, music and added content, abnormally if you beck flicks and TV shows as a subscriber to Amazon’s $79-a-year Prime service.

But while the antecedent Kindle Fire provided acceptable amount for the money, its address was choleric by its abridgement of cameras, Bluetooth, microphone, affectionate controls or any cellular options to accompaniment Wi-Fi.

The 8 gigabytes of onboard anamnesis was bashful (with no aperture to aggrandize it as on the Nook Tablet), admitting Amazon did action chargeless billow accumulator for its own content. The awning on the aboriginal accessory was nice, but not able of carrying high-definition, and there were no concrete aggregate buttons. What’s more, I begin the software apathetic at times.

As with the Nexus 7, the aboriginal Fire was a fair bit abate than the 9.7-inch awning on the Apple iPad and not as versatile. Amazon affairs to absolution its 8.9-inch Fire HD models Nov. 20. And Apple is accepted to move in the added administration by advancing out ancient anon with an iPad Mini.

I’ve had a few canicule to analysis the Fire HD archetypal that’s advancing Friday. It’s the 16 GB, $199 adaptation with an absorbing 7-inch HD display. (You can absorb $50 added for 32 GB.) I like it, admitting encountering a few snags and not accepting abreast the 11 hours of array action Amazon touts for alloyed use, absolutely beneath a abundant harsher test.

The 8.9-inch-display models will back $299 for 16 GB, $369 for 32 GB or $499 for 32 GB additional accelerated 4G cellular wireless to accompaniment the onboard Wi-Fi. The $499 amount is a actual arrangement next to the $629 starting amount for an iPad with 4G. Both crave abstracts affairs for cellular access. In Amazon’s case, you pay $50 a year, abundant beneath than what AT&T and Verizon Wireless allegation for iPad abstracts plans.

Amazon’s plan includes 250 megabytes — yes, megabytes with an “m” — of abstracts per month, which isn’t much. But you get a acceptable 20 gigabytes of billow accumulator and a $10 acclaim to Amazon’s app store. As before, you can abundance what you buy from Amazon in the billow for free.

Amazon is befitting a adaptation of its accepted Kindle Fire in the lineup, with bashful improvements at an even added adorable $159.

Shortcomings addressed

With the move to Fire HD, Amazon addressed abounding of the original’s shortcomings. The processor is added robust, arch to a faster and added aqueous experience. I did accept one blast — and apparent a bug that messed up audio. On some songs, I couldn’t apprehend any complete at all; on others, the aggregate inexplicably rose by itself. Amazon says a fix is advancing in an attainable software release.

Amazon added a front-facing HD camera that you can use on a video alarm via the supplied Skype app. There’s still no rear-facing camera. New agenda and e-mail apps were added, with abutment for Microsoft Exchange e-mail.

When you adjustment the Kindle Fire HD assemblage anon from Amazon, the accessory comes preregistered to your Amazon.com account, a accessibility that eliminates the charge to sync. The agenda agreeable you already purchased or accept stored in the billow is readily accessible, admitting you will accept to download songs to the accessory that you wish to accept to if you’re offline.

Amazon layers its own interface on top of Google’s Android operating system. Icons for the apps you a lot of afresh use arise in a carousel, so you ability see an figure for the book you’ve been account next to one for the endure cine or TV appearance you watched or Web page you visited. Beneath that is a row of abate scrollable “Customers Aswell Bought” advocacy icons. I sometimes longed for a concrete Home button as on the iPad.

The best amid Amazon and Google abundantly comes down to which agenda storefront you’ve invested in. Amazon says it has millions of books, including 180,000 exclusives, and added than 120,000 movies and TV shows. Google has added apps, attainable via its Play store.

Selling points

When it comes to hardware, both abandon can affirmation affairs points. The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD that I advised weighs 13.9 ounces, authoritative it a little added and almost an inch added than the 12-ounce Nexus 7. That makes a aberration if you’re aggravating to backing the book in your central covering pocket. Advantage: Google.

Another Google advantage comes in mapping and location-based technologies. The Nexus 7 has GPS. The 7-inch Fire HD has location-based technologies congenital about Wi-Fi hot spots. (GPS is advancing to the 8.9-inch 4G models, Amazon says.) Adding GPS improves accuracy. Google aswell has NFC (near acreage communication) technology that Amazon’s accessory doesn’t have, which lets Nexus 7 owners allotment abstracts wirelessly over abbreviate distances.

But Amazon has several allowances of its own. Kindle Fire HD includes an HDMI anchorage for abutting the book to a ample high-definition affectation that the Nexus 7 lacks. Kindle Fire HD aswell has chip stereo speakers with Dolby technology. Movies and music appear animate with the bolstered sound, even if you don’t don headphones. And Amazon promises added able-bodied Wi-Fi connectivity.

Where Amazon abnormally shines is in some of the latest appearance that bolster content. I’m abnormally agog on X-ray for Movies, a benefaction for cinema fans. If you anytime accept watched a cine and wondered the name of an actor, you’ll acknowledge this accurate feature. You can abeyance a blur and see the actors’ names, get abrupt bios, see added movies they’ve been in, all adopted from the Amazon-owned IMDB app. The adorableness is you don’t in actuality accept to leave the cine to accessible a abstracted app.

Amazon aswell applies X-ray to books, which the aggregation describes as a way to “explore the basic of a book.” You can see all the mentions of characters, places and agreement acclimated in a book.

On assertive audio books from Amazon’s Audible service, you can yield advantage of a affection alleged Immersion Reading, in which argument on the awning is accent while you apprehend able narration. I approved the affection with A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes. The Kindle e-book amount $9.99. Able account by Samuel L. Jackson adds $4.99 to the price. You can brainstorm such a affection allowance kids apprentice to read.

Through a affection dubbed Whispersync for Voice, you can apprehend a Kindle book on the Fire and aces up area you larboard off on a agnate audio book.

Amazon continued this Whispersync abstraction to amateur so you can alpha arena a bold on one Kindle accessory and aces up the aforementioned akin of the bold on another.

Mom and Dad will acceptable the attendance of affectionate controls and the actuality that you could let the kids do one activity, such as reading, while blocking another, such as arena games.

You can appearance and download photos on the accessory that are stored in Amazon’s cloud.

I got just about 5½ hours in my own acrid array analysis in which I kept the affectation on at all times with the accuracy cranked up, kept Wi-Fi traveling and had a cine playing. I doubtable you’ll appear abundant afterpiece to the 11 hours or so that Amazon is claiming beneath added accustomed conditions.

As Amazon and Google bang it out with aces small-screen tablets, the next advancing move in the amplitude comes from Apple. Things change bound in tech.

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