The Amazon Kindle Fire HD is excellent value for the solid, capable hardware you're getting. But you need to think carefully about what you want from a tablet and what the alternatives are before deciding upon a purchase.

If you're heavily invested in the Amazon ecosystem, with hundreds of books and MP3 tracks stored in your digital Amazon locker and a Lovefilm account waiting to stream movies to you - and if your day isn't complete without a bout of virtual window shopping on the vast Amazon website and you want an instant mainline to all those bargains - one of these could be for you.

If your main wish is for a device that pulls all these elements together in a highly-funneled interface, and other common tablet tasks such as email, web browsing gaming and mapping are distant secondary concerns, then the Kindle Fire HD provides everything you want and most of the things you need.

Unfortunately, those are some pretty big ifs. The Nexus 7 is a far more balanced tablet, offering the same kind of seven-inch hardware for an increase in price - but with the infinitely more flexible stock Android 4.4 Kitkat OS and a far superior app store, as well as apps to give you all the Amazon goodness you could want.

Meanwhile, Apple's iPad mini and iPad mini with Retina display are cruising into a commanding position on the back of Apple's typical design and app ecosystem mastery.

We liked

The Amazon Kindle Fire HD's user interface is very beginner-friendly and offers something genuinely new over its rivals. Plus, the new Mojito update brings a grid layout, which is far more usable than the painful carousel.

In terms of hardware, the display is fairly sharp and ideally suited to movie watching, the stereo speakers are suitably punchy, and that dual-core CPU drives apps, games and HD video along very well. All for a bargain price.

Access to the formidable Amazon ecosystem is the Amazon Kindle Fire HD duo's main strength, however, and there's no arguing with the sheer range of, or easy access to, movie, music and book content.

We disliked

The interface, while intuitive, is restrictive, making standard tablet activities like email needlessly tough to access. Other major tablet tools like multitasking and mapping are just plain missing.

This interface also feels sluggish when accessing any of the online Amazon store sections, making us question the wisdom of pushing quite so much to the cloud at this point.

While Amazon is great for most media content, it's comes in a distant third place for apps and games.

Verdict

Unusually, given its populist design philosophy, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD can be considered a niche product, aimed at those who feel intimidated by typical tablet interfaces or who just want to be left alone to their media consumption.

They represent great value for money, offering highly capable and solidly built tablets for under £120. It's just that the Google Nexus 7 and Asus' Memo Pad 7 both give you more for your money, including a superior level of hardware, a far more sophisticated operating system and a superior app store.

Meanwhile, there's the Apple iPad mini with its unmatched app ecosystem and super-sleek design.

Between them, Apple and Google have arguably squeezed out the capable-but-limited Amazon Kindle Fire HD in all but price.