Amazon announced a refreshed set of hardware at their press launch on 6th September 2012 and, like most industry news these days, nothing was a surprise as it had all leaked out.  Finally the Kindle Fire will be available outside of the USA.

How does the new Fire stack up against the Google Nexus 7?

Let's be clear for the outset, this is not a review of the new Kindle Fire -- it is due for release 25 October 2012 so until then there is no hands on experience.

The good news is that both the Kindle Fire and the slightly upgraded HD version will be available in the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain, as well as in the USA.

The specification for the various Amazon devices are detailed at the foot of the Amazon kindle Fire page.  With the Google Nexus 7 selling so well around the globe everyone will want to compare the two, however bear in mind it is not all to do with tiny tweaks in the hardware.  Some consideration should be made to operational issues too.

  • The Fire range have omitted some of the less known sensors on the Nexus - the NFC, the digital compass, GPS, and a gyroscope; therefore mapping and navigation are not included with the Fire.
  • The Nexus and Fire are based on the Android mobile operating system.  Nexus runs the latest 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and the Fire runs a customized version of 4.0.  The difference, and some will disagree strongly here, is slight for the basic user, however it is still an 'old' O/S.  Kindle should be churning out a new device with a new operating system.
  • The Fire is very much geared to the Amazon experience, as you would expect.  Apps are available from the Amazon store, as are books, movies, etc.  Forcing apps from other stores (such as the Google Play store) is apparently tricky, but possible!
  • Adobe Flash is currently available on the Kindle Fire (as it is based on Android 4.0).  Adobe have dropped support for Android 4.1 so no Flash on the Nexus -- Flash is really dead on mobile devices anyway; Adobe have admitted that.
  • The Amazon store is extensive, offering a huge entertainment selection.  Google are very far behind in this, especially out with the USA, but they are slowly catching up.
  • The Fire range make use of Amazon Silk technology;  when you are surfing the web some of the work is done on the Amazon servers and the page content is returned to you, in theory making the experience faster.  I'm personally not sold on this idea, especially for a privacy perspective, but that is for another day.
  • Interestingly neither the Nexus nor the Fire support a 3G mobile data connection, however there are rumours that the Nexus 7 will be upgraded to include one very soon.
  • The Kindle Fire is ad-supported, which is how they have managed to keep the price low.  As with the Kindle Touch, Amazon will deliver adverts to the home/lock screen of the Kindle Fire.

Amazon had massive success with the Kindle reader device and they have attempted to replicate this with the Fire -- aiming to provide a great user experience, simply and cheaply.  There is no doubt there is a big market for this, however with five different devices on the market from Amazon users might start to be confused as to what is best for their needs.

Time will tell how well the Kindle Fire does, however based on its reception in the USA over the last year I think we can be confident it will be a very popular device.

In the UK the Kindle Fire will sell for £129, the Nexus 7 is sold for £159 (£199 for a 16Gb model).  The Kindle Fire HD will sell for £159.

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