Amazon Kindle HD 7 First Impressions
Yesterday my 7-inch 16GB Amazon Kindle Fire HD arrived. I'll likely do a more detailed review in a couple of days, but I figured I'd share my first impressions here.
The box is quite simple. Similar as the original Kindle Fire, it uses "green" packaging. The shipping box is the actual box it comes in. No fancy slide-over box, just the shipping box, and to open it, it has the pull-strip in cardboard.
Inside you find the Kindle Fire HD, in a plastic protective cover/bag, a MicroUSB-to-USB cable for charging/connecting it to your computer and a small card with some basic instructions.
When you turn it on (it actually comes with a charge, which is very nice), it takes you through a few steps to get you up and running. Just like with the original Kindle Fire, it comes pre-setup with your account details (if you ordered it from Amazon using an Amazon account), so its basically just setting up WiFi, timezone and a quick 8-page tutorial to swipe through, and that is it, easy as can be. Maybe next year, Amazon will actually store the time-zone and your wifi setup in the cloud, so you don't even need to setup anything anymore.
After the setup, the Kindle Fire HD automatically pulls in images for content such as books and videos you watched and you are ready to go. For the last 2 weeks I've been using my Kindle Fire during the evenings, and the Fire HD nicely pulled in my history.
Of course one of the first things I did after turning it on was to put videos on it.
Using DVD Catalyst 4 (the new 188.8.131.52 build, which includes profiles for the Kindle Fire HD) I converted, since most of the images on the web show it on the Fire HD, The Hunger Games. I converted the DVD using the standard Kindle Fire HD Settings:
and the Bluray version using the Kindle Fire HQXT profile:
(in order to convert Bluray, AnyDVD HD or something similar is needed and the Bluray checkmark needs to be enabled)
And copied both movie files over to the Kindle Fire HD.
Playback of both files was fine. Of course I didn't watch the same movie twice, but skimming through the videos there appeared to be no issues with playback whatsoever.
The original Kindle Fire has a limit of 2GB for video files, and refuses to play anything larger, so I did a high quality conversion of Planet of the Apes from Bluray, while keeping the full 1080 resolution.
The created file, converted with CRF set to 20 ended up 8GB in size, with a peak bitrate of almost 27Mbps
I watched this one all the way through last night, and while I did notice a few hickups here and there, it didn't happen during peak-bitrate portions, which makes me think something else is doing that. My guess is that it has something to do with the advertisements, but I'm not sure.
Of course I also tried out the HDMI port. For HDMI out, the Kindle Fire uses screen-mirroring, but it does do 1080p when playing videos. It appears it "upscales" the screen to 1080p.
I also experienced some hickups when I was streaming some video from Prime (an episode of Top Gear UK), but since it was release day yesterday, that might have been the result of a lot of people playing with their Fire HD's at the same time.
The advertising on the lock screen is actually done quite nicely, and isn't really annoying. Of course it was a bit of a disappointment, but Amazon uses high-quality images, and the control images (unlock button etc) are also colored to match the colors of the add, so it looks fine. The screen-mirror part of the HDMI connection works with the lock-screen as well.
* In portrait mode, it shows "customers also bought" stuff underneath the main images, which is a bit annoying. I use my tablets mostly in landscape mode, so its not that big a deal.
* The speakers are great. Sound is full and loud, something you don't find on many tablets these days. The stereo works great in landscape mode, as it should be.
* The power-button on the side is not market with a notch or a dot or something like that, which makes it a bit hard to "feel" when you want to turn it on. The volume buttons do have a different feel though.
* The screen border s a bit large for my taste. The additional bevel around the glass feels "weird".
* Picking the Fire HD up kinda feels like picking up the Xoom, but smaller and lighter. It feels sturdy.
* The screen works well in lighted areas. Holding both the Fire and the Fire HD in front of a window results in the original one barely visible icons, and the new one still being usable.
I'm not sure yet if the Fire HD is a true successor to the original Kindle Fire, but I'll be using it more and will post my findings.
About DVD Catalyst:
DVD Catalyst 4 enables you to convert your DVD and video file (AVI, MKV, ISO etc) collection so that you can watch them on whatever device you have.
Simply select the profile for your device (1000's included, including the Kindle Fire HD, but also most Android and iOS devices), insert your DVD or add your video files, and tap Go to start the process.
DVD Catalyst 4 handles all the complicated stuff automatically so you don't have to. Things like volume adjustment, screen-size, border removal are all automated to make it as easy and worry-free as possible.
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