I’ve been an Apple fan and user for the best part of 10 years and I can remember the original introduction of the iPad in 2010. The general buzz in the tech community was one of excitement and anticipation of how the iPad would revolutionise personal computing. Personally, the original iPad form factor never grew on me even after a few months of trial, I couldn’t get over how thick and cumbersome it was to hold, bearing in mind 7 years ago no one really knew how to hold a tablet.
Then a few years rolled by and Apple gave in and announced the iPad mini, finally a smaller and more appealing device. I knew this was the tablet for me and ever since then I’ve had a Mini and my most recent one was a 2nd gen retina display version.
Since the introduction of the iPad, Apple’s rivals like Google and Amazon have all had a stab at the tablet market and done reasonably well. I even tried the first Google Nexus 7 and I actually favoured the size and shape over the iPad mini, however, it operated Android which was a messy OS at the time and most of the big app developers just didn’t support Android. Ultimately I returned back to my humble and trusted iPad mini.
For the last 5 years that’s exactly what my iPad mini has been, trusted and reliable but then 2 years ago I purchased a new MacBook. Everything changed suddenly my mini was getting left behind on trips and then at home, all I was using it for was the occasional browsing or game playing session on the sofa. I decided it was time to sell the mini as I was relying on the MacBook more and more for travel and productivity of work, the size and weight of the MacBook is small and light enough to travel with whilst still allowing me to complete full desktop environment tasks that the iPad mini just isn’t designed for.
Then I was left with the dilemma of what am I going to use on the sofa when I want to look up something on IMDb half way through a movie or, how am I going to kill those 10 minutes playing games before dinner whilst Laura cooks me up something delicious in the kitchen? First world problems right…
Enter the Fire
I’d always admired Amazon and their line of Kindle tablets and now the Fire tablets, mostly because of the choice and price point’s they’re offered at. Unfortunately, I’ve had previous experience using other peoples and found them cheap and not very user-friendly. Then I stumbled upon an Amazon warehouse deal over the Easter holiday break for a 7″ Fire tablet and I couldn’t resist, I needed something to replace the iPad mini and I wasn’t that fussed about performance or specs as long as it did the basics, it was ridiculously cheap coming in at a grand total of £23.09, bargain and yes contradictory to my previous thoughts but I thought it was time to give the Fire a chance.
The Fire tablet I picked is the entry level 7″ model and although it claims to have a “Beautiful 7” IPS display” with a “1024 x 600 IPS display with 171 ppi for a bright display” it’s not exactly what I would call beautiful but certainly bright, however, if you are used to a retina display (HD screen) it’s very much a downgrade. The resolution of 1024 x 600 is also a little odd as vertically everything is squashed in and horizontally you end up with a lot of white space either side. It takes some getting used to but it works. The specs also boast a “fast quad-core processor” which “consists of four high-performance 1.3 GHz cores” which may be the fact however in real life testing launching apps or switching screens can have some lag and the tablet struggles to keep up at times but in general it’s responsive enough.
…the Fire tablet is a great replacement for what I needed and for the price I paid I am more than satisfied, however, if you were paying the full retail price of around £50 you might be slightly disappointed with some of the performance so bear that in mind. As an alternative, there is the Fire HD 8″ tablet for only £40 more which might be the better option. The Fire tablets are cheap for a reason and certainly feel it when you pick them up but that also doesn’t make them a bad tablet, quite the contrary, I actually believe Amazon when they claim they are 1.8 times more durable than the iPad Air 2, the tablet also runs Fire OS which is essentially a skinned version of Android and that’s not a bad thing, the user interface is easy to navigate and the Android OS has come a long way since my initial days of testing. The Fire tablets are worth your attention as a cost-friendly alternative to the iPad, especially as a new iPad mini will set you back just over £400. The performance could be better yes, but then most people have a secondary desktop device like myself so there’s no excuse.