Amazon Kindle Fire HD review

Now comes in two size choices for the discerning tablet worrier

Kindle Fire HD 7"
Great Value
Kindle Fire HD 7"

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There's one glaring weakness in Amazon's vast media ecosystem. One area in which this digital giant bows down to both Apple and Google.

When it comes to apps, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD is sorely lacking. Amazon tried to head this issue off a few years ago when it introduced the Amazon Appstore, but even with all of its work it still finds itself well short.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

While many of the major players are present, such as Facebook, Flipboard and Evernote, there are also some major omissions.

I thought Dropbox was available pretty much everywhere - it's one of the main reasons the cloud-storage tool is so popular - but you have to download it directly from Dropbox if you want it on your Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

In fairness, though, the very fact that you can side-load non-official apps on to the Amazon Kindle Fire HD in this way is another sign of the device's hidden Android legacy, and adds another welcome dash of flexibility to the otherwise-rigid Amazon interface.

However, the whole act of side-loading means your apps will never be updated, unless you do it manually, and I find that a bit of a pain.

The games offering is improving, but it still falls below our expectations.

Amazon has worked hard to get certain timed exclusives over the much larger Google Play store, and, as with the apps, there are a number of big hitters here.

Angry Birds Star Wars, Temple Run 2, Plants vs Zombies, Jetpack Joyride, Real Racing 3 - all present and accounted for.

For every game that's here, though, there are several that aren't. Obviously Apple reigns supreme when it comes to mobile gaming, but even compared to the Google Play store, this is a little barren on the gaming front.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

The CPU copes well with most games

Where's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? Where's Plants vs. Zombies 2? Nowhere to be seen. It's a real shame that these games, which are both available on Android, are not on a tablet that does essentially this OS.

In terms of how those games that are present perform, the Amazon Kindle Fire's 1.5GHz dual-core CPU is more than adequate for casual time wasters like Cut The Rope and Angry Birds.

It also handles 3D gaming, though I did come across a fair bit of stuttering when I was really getting into some racing on Asphalt 8.

Both Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablets are more than capable gaming devices, then - it's just a shame there aren't more games to enjoy on them.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD review

Dead Space

In all of this I have to wonder why Amazon didn't just allow access to the Google Play store. Especially when you realise what a sluggish, difficult-to-navigate mess the Amazon Appstore is.

It's bizarre when you consider that the custom stores for music, videos and books are quite pleasant to use, if still a little slow. When it comes to pre-installed apps, it's equally slim pickings.

Aside from the mentioned email, calendar and contacts apps, Amazon has included IMDb (which, as I've said, integrates nicely with video).

Aside from these, you'll find Kindle FreeTime, a great little app from stops the kids from spending the entire day glued to the seven-inch screen. All you have to do is set-up a password, create the youngster a profile and choose which apps they access, along with how long they can use them for. It's easy to set up and actually really useful.

Arguably, the biggest omission here is a complete lack of mapping. Again, why Amazon didn't compromise a little and adopt Google's ready-made Maps app I'm not sure.