The thing to remember about Amazon’s new $ 50 Fire tablet is that it’s a $ 50 tablet.
It’s not as light or as thin as a tablet that costs five or six times more. The camera isn’t as good, and the screen isn’t as sharp. But it works well as a budget device for the basics – reading, Facebook, video and, of course, shopping on Amazon.
Over the years, Amazon.com Inc. has done a good job of making tablets affordable for the masses. The new Fire tablet is Amazon’s cheapest yet, joining a fall lineup that maxes out at $ 230 (roughly Rs. 15,000) ($ 15 more if you want Amazon to remove ads on the lock screen). By contrast, Apple’s iPads start at $ 269 (roughly Rs. 17,500), ad-free.
Of course, you get less for $ 50.
Among the trade-offs:
The feel: The 7-inch tablet is bulky, about two-thirds as thick as a deck of cards. This runs counter to a trend of gadgets getting thinner and thinner. But this is reasonable for budget devices, as they use older, larger components to cut costs. At 11 ounces, the tablet also feels heavy for a device that size.
Lower resolution: The screen is just short of displaying video in full high definition, otherwise known as 1080p. As Amazon’s HDX tablets and Apple’s “Retina” iPads tout super-sharp displays, the screen on the new Fire feels retro.
Video displays fine. Where the lower resolution is most noticeable is with small text. When reading, some of the vertical lines in d’s and l’s look fat. It feels like a typewriter with metal type that hasn’t been cleaned of gunk, forming misshaped letters when some of that gunk hits the ink ribbon. (For our younger readers, typewriters are machines that produce letters on paper, rather than a screen. And paper is a sheet of writing material made from trees.)
Taking pictures: The main camera is just 2 megapixels, compared with 5 or 8 megapixels on higher-end Amazon tablets. Photos come out fuzzy, and low-light images have plenty of color distortion. The camera’s lens also isn’t able to capture as much as other gadgets from the same distance. It’s as though the camera has a permanent zoom. That said, most people already have smartphones with decent cameras. There’s no need to pay more to duplicate technology.