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Kindle Fire HD 7-inch: If you’re entrenched in Amazon’s ecosystem, it’s probably a good tablet for you

So yesterday, I received the Kindle Fire HD 7-inch that I ordered on the same day they announced them. I am really looking forward to the child-centric features that they announced surrounding this tablet that will be coming in a future software update, but lacking that feature to review yet, I still am very impressed with this. It’s lightyears sleeker and better than the first gen Kindle Fire. The touch screen is very responsive, browsing is fast, the colors and clarity of the screen are superb, the reading experience is akin to reading on the retina-screened iPad with really crisp fonts (and I can even select Helvetica as my default font), and the stereo sound from the dolby-branded speakers is probably the best I’ve ever heard coming from a tablet.

The one thing I don’t like about this tablet is that I cannot also reach Google Play and install all the apps that I’ve already purchased from that ecosystem. That being said, I also see how that is a huge boon for someone who is not a power-user and who is already entrenched in Amazon’s ecosystem. If I remove any knowledge of all these other tablets from my head and simply think about this as a device that works nicely with my Amazon Prime membership, it’s a very attractive and perk-filled device.

It’s light. Feels good in one hand, and the screen looks great when held in landscape for watching a movie in HD, whether you’re streaming from Amazon Prime, Netflix, or HBO Go. The email app is much improved from the first generation Kindle Fire, although the email notifications don’t seem to work at all on my Gmail accounts via Exchange push, which is disappointing. That being said, it’s a device that is very geared towards a single experience at a time, so this approach works (even if it’s a sort of unintended feature; I’m pretty sure that the notifications are supposed to be working).

Overall for $200 it’s great, with that one caveat “if you’re entrenched in Amazon’s ecosystem.” If you’re coming from another ecosystem—Google Play or iOS or even Barnes & Nobles Nook or Sony’s Ereader—you probably won’t like it. If you’re brand new to tablets and e-reading, and you’re an Amazon customer and you foresee yourself mainly using this to read, browse the web a bit, and play a few games, you’ll probably like this as your first tablet purchase.

Here’s my gallery of the unboxing pictures from when I first received the device.