Amazon Kindle Fire I (First gen) Review: a cheap tablet for watching movies

Written by B Johnson December 17, 2013
Amazon Kindle Fire I (First gen) Specs
Hi guys, welcome back!

Yesterday, I’ve already showcased to you some of the great affordable tablets made by Amazon, Kindle Fire HDX and Kindle Fire 7 HD, not to mention the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD in my previous reviews, remember, not in-depth review though.

(Amazon Kindle Fire I (First gen) Specs)

The reasons why i brought up those 2 tablets to my reviews is, these 2 Amazon’s tablets are just amazing in many ways, despite having affordable price points.

They have great displays and powerful internal hardware in its class, yet are still priced in just around $199 to $229.

Kindle Fire 1st-gen benchmarks and gaming performance

And i’ve already said this a lot in my previous posts – they may not have the same premium feel just like the aluminum-plated iPads.

But damn! – with that price point and insanely powerful hardware, it’s just really hard to not recommend them to you if you’re looking for a great media and entertainment tablet in affordable price range.

So this time, i want to flashback to the past and revisit the first generation tablet from this Kindle Fire series.

And that is the original Kindle Fire I, or known simply as just “Kindle Fire”.

And as usual, before we go straight to this review, let me remind you again that, in writing this review, i don’t actually own that tablet by myself.

So this review will not be some in-depth review covering all the details about the tablet, but this is just my personal opinion review that it’s based on my knowledge about this tablet from many sources like video reviews or users reviews around internet.

Okay then, if you can’t wait to read my own personal review about this tablet, then here you go.

But, let me show you first the brief introduction of this Kindle Fire tablet.


The original Kindle Fire I made its first debut back then around 3 or 4 years ago, the days when iPad was still a king in tablet market, while some Android tablets like Asus Transformer, Motorola Xoom or Samsung GALAXY Tab were still gaining ground in this tablet-making business.

However, soon after the first-gen Kindle Fire launched to the tablet market, suddenly this tablet went viral across the market and managed to become the best selling item on Amazon’s website and even the best selling Android tablet back then.

If i’m not wrong, this model managed to ship around 500.000 units in within just few months around holiday season, before and after it.

Well, that number might not be as impressive compared to the sales that Apple made on its iPad alone.

However, that number apparently was good enough to help Android tablets gain more ground in global tablet market.

And even more amazingly, that success had really managed to open wide the 7-inch tablet market and make this market bigger enough to compete with 9.7-inch tablet market of iPad.

Compared to latest tablets that you see today, then the original Kindle Fire might not be equal, whether in terms of design, display, experience, performance or internal hardware.

However, back in the days in 2010-2011, this tablet actually could be considered as a really good tablet in its class.

And that’s the reason why until today, until the minute i wrote this review, Amazon is still selling this original Kindle Fire on its website.

In fact, they still put this model on its latest Kindle Fire lineup for this holiday, alongside Kindle Fire HDX and Kindle Fire HD.

So that means Amazon still believes that this model is still worth selling for its customers.

Besides, given that this original Kindle Fire was an old tablet with some old internal hardware inside, then no wonder if Amazon sells this tablet now in around $100 to $130, or even less than that.

The good news is, even though this model is an old tablet, Amazon still makes some tweaks here and there on the software and even on the hardware, although will not be as impressive as Kindle Fire HD, let alone Kindle Fire HDX.


Kindle Fire 1st-gen - Full tablet specifications

If there is one aspect that the first-gen Kindle Fire really lacks, then its design is the one i’m talking about. This tablet certainly doesn’t have the best design compared to iPad with its aluminum-plated premium design.

In fact, when compared to its Android fellas, like Motorola Xoom or Samsung GALAXY Tab, the design of Kindle Fire is definitely not something to write home about.

It feels bulky, feels shallow, looks ugly, and it’s just not worth showing off to public.

The bezels also look way too huge, the back side of this tablet feels like it’s made in a rush without any big design plan behind it.

Amazingly, even with this unappealing design, Kindle Fire still managed to become the best selling item on Amazon’s website.

But it was not that surprising given that Amazon already had a huge ecosystem on its online store that was already filled with real people buying stuff with real money.

So that ecosystem really helped a lot in marketing this tablet aggressively to all of its customers, who maybe, were not really looking for a tablet in the first place.

But the $199 price tag that was written on Kindle Fire ads was just so tempting for many customers who wanted to get an affordable tablet that they could use for reading books, watching movies or TV series, playing tablet games, listening to new music albums or even just browsing internet to buy Amazon products or contents through this tablet.

So as a result, when all of their needs were met with what Kindle Fire was offering to them, then it just made it a lot easier for Amazon to sell this tablet to its loyal customers.

Then BAM!!, 500.000 units of the first-gen Kindle Fire were shipped throughout the holiday.

However, being an affordable tablet doesn’t exactly mean that Kindle Fire will be mediocre in quality.

As a matter of fact, put the ugly design aside, this tablet indeed is still a pretty good quality tablet though.

It has a smooth and fluid experience thanks to its simple User Interface, fast performance, good display in its class, easy payment system, huge complete catalog of games, apps, books, movies, TV series, music, magazines and many more on Amazon’s website, and the most importantly, a great solid long lasting battery life.

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  • No SIM
  • Debuts in 2011, November
  • 7.0 inch IPS LCD capacitive screen 600 x 1024 pixels (~170 ppi pixel density)
  • OS Android OS, v2.3 (customized)
  • Dual-core TI OMAP 44301 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU
  • PowerVR SGX540 GPU
  • 512 MB RAM
  • No microSD card slot
  • 8GB storage Internal
  • No GPRS
  • No EDGE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • No Bluetooth
  • USB
  • No Camera
  • Stereo FM radio
  • No GPS
  • No Java
  • Non-removable Li-Ion 4400 mAh battery

Compared to what we see today as industry standards in the current tablet market, then the 1024x600 pixel display on Kindle Fire will look inferior than other competing tablets.

However, back in the days of 2010-2011, this display was actually considered as great back then.

Watching movies looks nice, playing games looks awesome, reading books seems pretty sharp, browsing the web looks okay and pretty much everything on the screen already makes the users fully satisfied.

Besides, in those years, people were not really ready to embrace a full HD 1920x1200 pixel display just like what we’ve seen today on Kindle Fire HDX or Google Nexus 7.

So having a 1024x600 pixel screened tablet was already considered as satisfying for most users who only wanted to get an affordable tablet that they could use to enjoy all of Amazon contents easily without any hassle.

User Interface

Besides design, the User Interface of Kindle Fire is also not something that is worth showing off.

It looks simple with some glider view of contents or apps that you have on this tablet.

What makes this interface a little bit intrusive is because the apps or shortcuts to your contents are shown in really huge icons in slider view in the middle.

For some users, this might not be that big a deal.

However, some other owners of this tablet, these big icons really make the experience of using this tablet a little bit annoying because they look really pixelated and horrible on the homescreen.

It seems like the developers or content creators of some apps haven’t optimized their app icons for Kindle Fire tablet.

And that’s really weird because optimizing icon or image of app is not like well-optimizing the app itself for the tablet, where it usually could take around weeks or even months for developers.

Hopefully, in the future, all of developers and content creators for Kindle Fire tablets, all of them, will finally optimize or update the icons of their contents specifically for Kindle Fire tablets so they will look much nicer and sharper in the big size icons.

On top of the screen, there are some tabs that you can tap in order to switch to other windows.

And through this windows, you can buy new movies, TV series, apps, books and many other contents on their own specific database of Amazon, like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon App Store or Amazon’s website.

This will surely make it a lot easier for users to get new contents on this tablet, meaning that Amazon can keep generating profits from Kindle Fire users.

And this is the real goal that Amazon wants to achieve through Kindle Fire tablets, which is to ship its tablets as many as possible throughout the US by selling them in cheap or affordable price range, then keep pumping up the profits to the company through the apps or contents like movies, TV series, books, music, magazines or anything that Amazon provides in its ecosystem.


For an old tablet released in 2011, the performance of Kindle Fire is not really disappointing for many users.

In fact, vast majority of Kindle Fire users find the performance of this tablet to be great and smooth.

And that’s thanks to the great internal hardware and simple user interface of Fire OS (which is the simplified version of Android OS) that are only tasked to deliver that great performance to 1024x600 pixel display.

So as a result, the experience of using this tablet is really fluid and fast. Switching to one tab to other tab or sliding the apps on the homescreen never have any issue with lag.

Doing any tasks like watching movies, reading books, browsing the web, playing music, checking emails, buying apps or playing games all can be done seamlessly without any lag whatsoever.

This is great because Amazon wants its Kindle Fire to be a great medium or platform that can replace laptop or PC and can deliver all the new contents straight to the users without any obstacle or complicated learning curve.

So if you want to watch new episode of your favorite TV series, you can just switch the tab to “movie” section, then find the TV series you’re looking for, and then buy it in the simple and easy payment system with your credit card.

That goes the same with buying new movies, music, apps, books, magazines or any contents on Amazon database.

It’s really straightforward, simple and easy.

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When it comes to gaming performance, Kindle Fire can be considered as really good in its class, of course for the games that were released back in 2011.

Thanks to a dual-core TI OMAP Cortex A9, 512MB of RAM and PowerVR SGX 540, games can be played in buttery smooth performance and in high graphics setting (again, for the games that were released in 2011).

Amazingly, some heavy and graphically demanding games like Gangstar Rio, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, Dead Trigger or ShadowGun, all will run perfectly on this tablet in full graphics.

However, for latest games like Asphalt 8: Airborne, Modern Combat 4, GTA Vice City or Dead Trigger 2, don’t expect this first-gen Kindle Fire to be able to run these heavy games in full graphics.

And that’s because the hardware of Kindle Fire are just not capable to push all the graphics of these games to the tablet. They’re just way out of its league.

So if you want to be able to always play the latest games on this tablet in full graphics, i recommend you to get Kindle Fire HDX instead given that this tablet is packing some monster specs on it, like Snapdragon 800, 2GB of RAM and Adreno 330 GPU.

And these are considered as today’s standards of high-end devices out there, like Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1 LTE (2014 edition), Samsung GALAXY Note 3, Google Nexus 5, HTC One or LG G2, which all of them are packing similar quality specs just like Kindle Fire HDX.

The good news is, the Kindle Fire 7 HDX only costs around $229 for the basic 16GB model (and i heard the price has been slashed by Amazon and other retailers to only $199).

And this is absolutely a great deal for you.

You’ll get a powerful gaming tablet with high-end monster specs on it, but at the price of mid-end tablet.

Battery Life

As mentioned above, one of the best selling points of Kindle Fire is definitely its battery life.

According to many users of this tablet, in heavy usage for doing many tasks like browsing internet, checking emails, reading books, watching movies, listening to music or playing games, Kindle Fire could last in 1 solid day, thanks to its great battery life and optimization on both software and hardware.

However, if you intend to use this tablet for playing games or watching movies in marathon, then you can expect this tablet to last around 6 to 8 hours in one full charge.

And that’s great for an affordable tablet like this.

Having a tablet that could last that long is really satisfying because most of smartphones these days usually could only survive in less than 5 or 6 hours when used solely for playing games or watching movies in the row.

I mean, like playing some heavy adventure games because you simply want to finish the game, or like watching some episodes of your favorite TV series in marathon, which will surely drain the battery life much faster than using this tablet normally in mixed usage.

So overall, the battery life of Kindle Fire is really great.

It could last really long for doing things like watching movies or playing games in the row.

And it could survive in one solid day if you use it for doing mixed tasks combined like checking emails, watching movies, browsing the net, playing some games or reading books.

User Opinions

Compared to the recent tablets like Tegra Note, Google Nexus 7 (2013), HP Slate 7 Extreme or even its compatriots, Kindle Fire HD or HDX, then the first-gen Kindle Fire will be beaten up mercilessly in the competition.

However, bear in mind that this Kindle Fire now is priced by Amazon for only less than $130, with some improvements and tweaks here and there on the software and hardware.

So that’s still a pretty sweet deal to get a tablet like this.

It’s able to play some heavy older games that are released in 2012 in full graphics, it runs a smooth UI and the most importantly, it has a great battery life.

It may not have the HD display nor full HD display just like the one found on Google Nexus 7 (2013) or Kindle Fire HDX, but at least it can get the job done, for watching the latest episode of your favorite TV series or movies, read any kind of books or some popular magazines, listen to any music albums from your favorite artists or playing some great games.

However (okay, this is the bad part, ready?), in the price range around $100 to $150, there is another tablet that is just much better than this Kindle Fire. And that is HP Slate 7 Plus.

This Hewlett Packard homemade tablet now only costs at $150.

And this is really cheap compared to the goodies that you’re gonna get from this tablet.

You’ll get a much higher 1028x700 pixel display, a better UI, microSD card slot, a better performance thanks to the Tegra 3, 1GB of RAM and 12-core of GPU, HDMI port, other important but underrated features like radio, Java, Bluetooth or Infrared, and some other goodies that are just impossible to find on Kindle Fire, even all of Kindle Fire series.

And the fact that the price of HP Slate 7 Plus is just around $30-50 higher than the first-gen Kindle Fire really makes it easier to recommend this tablet to you instead of Kindle Fire itself.

Performance-wise, HP Slate 7 Plus is definitely higher than Kindle Fire given that the Tegra 3, 12-core of GeForce GPU and 1GB of RAM are just better than the dual-core TI OMAP CPU, 512MB of RAM, although the PowerVR SGX540 GPU is the same one found on older-gen iPhone 4 or iPad 2 (or 1st gen if i’m not mistaken).

So games will look better on HP Slate 7 Plus than on Kindle Fire.

In fact, latest games like Asphalt 8: Airborne or Dead Trigger 2 can be played on this tablet, although not in full graphics setting, while other games like GTA Vice City or Modern Combat 4 or Dead Trigger 1 can be played in buttery smooth performance and in full graphics.

So you’ll get many other great things if you decide to buy HP Slate 7 Plus than buying old-gen Kindle Fire.

However, if you’re really in tight budget like you only have around $100, and you are fine being chained to Amazon ecosystem, then go ahead, buy Kindle Fire.

It’s a really solid tablet with great performance in its class and strong battery life.

On the other hand, if you still have around $40 or $50 in your pocket that you can add to your budget, then i recommend you to switch your target to HP Slate 7 Plus because this tablet offers more great things that Kindle Fire can’t.

Besides, if you want to watch the latest episode of your favorite TV series or movies, you can just download Hulu and Netflix apps on this tablet, and voila.. you can easily watch all Amazon movies and TV series right away on this HP’s tablet.

And the best thing about this tablet is, it has microSD card slot, making sure that you’ll never run out of free storage on this tablet.

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