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Amazon Fire 7 2015 (5th Generation) - the best $35 I've ever spent

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Got the Black Friday $34.99 price (annoyingly I had to add a 10 cent throw away item to get the free shipping, but whatever.

Even at $50 (what it will cost you now), but especially at $35, this is an amazing deal. Yes, with a great enough phone you may not need a tablet, but honestly at this price you can hardly go wrong. There are a few minor compromises they made on the unit (and I'm not even sure all of them are cost related) but all of it can be overcome.

First... mono audio. I honestly don't see how this saved them more than 50 cents in production cost, so they probably just did it to help distinguish this from the upper models. The thing is all you have to do is turn on bluetooth and use external bluetooth stereo speakers and "problem" gone. But even if you don't you usually won't notice for any task other than listening to music. A few game soundtracks too, but the fix is so easy and most of us have bluetooth speakers these days.

Second... the 171 ppi / 1024 x 600 screen. So... not HD quality. Part is cost cutting and part to distinguish product tiers. Here's the thing, for casual gaming? You won't notice. The touch screen could be more sensitive, but it's not that bad. The next model up at $99 (Fire HD6) is 252 ppi / 1280 x 800. You may notice that first stat more than the second in actual use.

Third... sightly lower res cameras (2MP). So if you really are the type to use a tablet as your main camera? You mght regret that. But it's just fine for stuff like Skyping or casual photos.

Fourth... the 1.3 GHz quad-core processor. You say that doesn't sound like ANY compromise? You'd be right. I think the "bigger" Fires are up to like 1.5 Ghz. But with a quad core it doesn't matter that much.  I mean it when I say this is a joy to use. You don't feel like you are compromising playing most current Android games.

Fifth... the "ads". So not a big deal. They're on the lockscreens and harmless. But what's literally a 30 second fix from the guys over at xda-developers.com gets past it on most versions of the firmware, and even though it doesn't yet on the latest firmware... big deal. It's so non-intrusive.


Sixth.... the "locked down Fire OS". It's not that bad. If you don't plan to buy everything from Amazon you can ignore the extra "pages" for Books, Movies, etc. pretty easily.  The main program screen can use layered folders (and pans down) so you don't run out of room.  More importantly that same link to the xda-developers leads to a way to do either a simple install of the actual Google Play store OR a way to "root" the whole device and just make it a standard Android. I left the Fire OS myself. Google Play store was enough to fix my own problems--since while the Amazon Appstore isn't bad, some stuff just gets left out. Actually another reason to leave the Fire OS IS that Amazon Appstore. Why?  Because it integrates Amazon Underground, and that gives you tons of stuff free that you pay for on Google Play (although in theory you can add the Underground app to the rooted device separately).


Seventh... the 8GB environment.  Again sounds GREAT and not a limitation. And that's true. You of course don't get all of that--the OS takes up a portion. But here's the thing. An SD slot. On an AMAZON device. Happy days!  Now FireOS is a bit tricky here. They say apps and data goes on the SD just with a flip of a switch on their interface. I did that and most of it stayed in the main system memory. But... you can manually move virtually any app to the SD card if you backdoor into the app properties and use the Move to SD card option there. Problem solved. The slot takes cards up to 128gb. I'm doing fine with a 64, but I bet I coulda lived with just another 8 or 16. 


Eighth... the "Silk" web browser. Well... with Google Play store installed to sideload you can just ignore Silk if you don't like it. Add your favorite other browser. Problem solved.


Now to end with an anecdote. The unit I first got... I discovered a dead pixel after a few days (on black only). Net rumors say this isn't uncommon. Amazon reps say it is (uncommon). But they didn't give even a little argument. They simply replaced it. I put the request in on a Thursday and got the replacement unit Today--a Sunday. Yes, a Sunday. USPS has this weird slave-like relationship now with Amazon where they actually deliver their packages on Sunday. Cost to me (including the ship back of the old one?) Zero. For a $35 unit.


I will say the Cloud backup feature they have frustrated me a bit. I had it off by default and only turned it on today when my replacement arrived. Amazon has this neat video telling you how to turn it on and then hit a button to do the backup right away. Problem: the latest OS rev doesn't match the video and there's no way to force the cloud backup.  So... you wait. The unit must stay on and be idle (so in the lock screen). Then at some random point--probably a low traffic time--it does the cloud backup. And then when you turn on the new unit, since it's also registered to you, the cloud connection asks you if you want to restore your old data to the new unit. Cool. If I'd only known when the backup happened and didn't have to try multiple times. I gave Amazon support an earful on this, but they took it well. Eventually it DOES work and everything's fine.  A little Big Brotherish to some of us, I'm sure, but you can root the device and eliminate all of this if that pisses you off.


So.. overall... very pleased. Anyone else buy one?

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