There was a time when tablets were a common part of the mobile ecosystem, but these days you’d be hard pressed to find someone who uses one. This is an unfortunate side effect of the size of modern phones. With screens up to 6”, it’s difficult to justify the purchase of a tablet. That being said, tablets do have a place in this ecosystem if you’re heavy app user who also happens to be a fan of reading digital books, manga or comics. It’s for those reason that the Amazon Fire 7 (2017) tablet likely exists, and it’s the reason I got one, but that may have been a mistake.
This 7 inch platform is powered by a Quad-core 1.3 GHz CPU, a Mali-450MP4 GPU, 1 GB ram, Non-removable Li-Ion 2980 mAh battery and a 720p IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen. If you’re not sure what that means then I’ll explain in layman’s terms. The current industry standard for mobile phones are at least an Octo-core CPU (8 processing units), 3GB RAM and a 1080p screen. This means that the Amazon Fire 7 tablet is less powerful than most phones on the market today, and that’s not a good thing. Since it’s mainly used as a reading a device, it doesn’t need much power, however corners were cut in ways that hamper even that basic functionality.
The tablets arrived in some neat minimalistic packaging that I like. This included the tablet, charging cable, adapter, and paperwork. Upon powering up the tablet I realized just how low quality the screen was, but that wouldn’t be much of an issue since I planned on just using it for doing manga, comic and book reviews. Epubs, and PDFs don’t require much resources and neither does the odd YouTube video. So despite my disappointment with the low quality fingerprint magnet screen I was still confident I had made a good purchase.
I proceeded to install all the apps I planned on using which included: The VIZ Manga app, Crunchyroll, YouTube, Twitch, Aldiko, and Marvel Comics. This was when I ran into my second issue with the tab. Most of those apps are not present in the Amazon app store and the Google play store doesn’t come installed on the Kindle Fire 7. The process of installing the Play Store is a bit too technical for the average consumer, but for me it didn’t take much effort to have it installed and running on the Tab. This installation did take some time, because the Tab is exceedingly slow, and at times I assumed it froze during the process. This was not an isolated incident however. Installing any app takes an unreasonable amount of time, and even loading installed apps is a timely ordeal.
This brings us to my next issue with the Fire 7, the performance.
If you’re not running anything on it, it functions smoothly, but the moment you launch an app it deteriorates. This means no multitasking, or resource intensive apps. Even the book reading and video streaming apps I use took a massive toll on the device. There were even moments when apps crashed while I was reading. The tablet also has an issue whereby the colours on the screen become bleached after watching a video for too long. I’m not sure what causes this particular issue, but it can be fixed by rebooting the device.
One would think with all the cost cutting on the Fire 7 tabs that it would possibly have a saving grace with regards to its battery life, but that too is an issue. It uses a 5V, 1A charger, which meant a slow charge at around six hours. This is horrible when considering that the tablet doesn’t last as long during regular use. Streaming will eat up charge with an average of 4 hrs of watch time, while reading and other applications may get you about 6-8. These are all averages because depending on the apps you use, it may not last more than 5 hours no matter what you do.
Modern apps run in the background and slowly chip away at the battery, so even on idle it’ll quickly die on you. In my time with the tab It’s been dead more often than I’ve actually used it, and that’s simply because that six hour charge time makes using it an even greater chore than it already is.
Aesthetically the tablet isn’t pretty either, but that’s expected at this price point. What I didn’t expect were two cameras and terrible mono speakers. Why would anyone need two cameras on a device like this? I can see the usefulness of the front facing camera if you plan on using it to make a video call, but the back camera?
Pretty much everyone has a phone with a decent camera on it these days and even if your camera sucks, trust me the camera on this is worse. Both the front and back cameras are zoomed in to an uncomfortable extent with a large amount of noise in the images. This is despite an abundance of light present while taking pictures or recording videos. Amazon could have taken out the back camera and find a way to include more ram in the device to make it a better purchase, but as it is, it’s a disappointment.
Even to do the thing that it’s predominantly designed for. Reading on the 720p screen is fine sometimes, but in other situations it blurs text, and images to an illegible extent. This includes books bought in and outside the kindle app.
Oh and don’t think I forgot that awful speaker either. It’s situated at the back of the Fire 7 in a position that is easily covered while holding the thing. It’s not wise to place it on a flat surface either, because as you may have already guessed, that will also cover up the speaker. When it’s not covered or in a quiet location its fine, but add a little background noise and it’s barely competent. Pairing mine with a Bluetooth speaker or earbuds has become common practice due to this short coming. Thankfully I already have those things, but you might now be so lucky. This drives up the cost and removes the biggest incentive to picking up one of these, the price.
Just because you’re not 100% dissatisfied with a purchase doesn’t mean you are happy with it either. The Fire 7 Tab is a product that I will not purchase again and it’s not one I’d recommend to anyone either. The only conceivable reason I can see for purchasing one of these is as a toy for a small child. What Amazon have here is a product that may be cheap enough to SEEM reasonable, but in Trinidad we have a saying that fits this product perfectly; “Cheap thing no good, and good thing no cheap”.
So true. I dislike them alot.
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