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Amazon Fire HD 7 review
Lighting a fire under the tablet market?

Media is where this tablet really shines. It's really just a gateway to the 33 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, magazines, apps and games that Amazon is offering up for sale.

Like Google's Play services and Apple's iTunes store you can buy or rent songs, albums or movies but Amazon goes beyond this with its subscription services.

The best way to get the most from the Fire HD 7 is, unsurprisingly, to pair it with an Amazon Prime subscription. The retail giant will kindly give you the first month free but from there it climbs to £79.99 a year.

The benefits include next-day delivery on purchases from Amazon.co.uk, access to the Kindle Owner's Lending Library and unlimited streaming through Prime Instant Video – the artist formerly known as Lovefilm.

Amazon Instant Video still doesn't have quite as good a selection as Netflix, but you're not going to be struggling for things to watch. And, like Netflix, Amazon is putting money into original content like the Halle Berry-starring Extant.

Amazon Fire HD 7 2014 review

There's plenty of content to be had from Amazon's services

A particular benefit of using Amazon Instant Video on the Fire HD 7 compared to other Android or iOS tablets is that you can download and cache the content for watching offline.

This is particularly useful because the HD 7 is Wi-Fi only, although bear in mind you only have 8GB or 16GB of storage space to work with.

Amazon Fire HD 7 2014 review

Download, and keep on watching when you're offline

I used Amazon Instant Video pretty extensively with the Fire HD 7 and was impressed with the result. Any films or TV Shows you watch will appear in the main carousel so you can jump right back in at the place you left off.

Video looks good on the HD screen and there's plenty of detail although if I had a criticism it's that dark scenes aren't as well contrasted as on other tablets. The 7-inch screen manages 216 pixels-per-inch which is slightly trumped by the 252ppi on the 6-inch model due to the smaller screen.

Amazon Fire HD 7 2014 review

This isn't an example of bad contrast - Amazon just won't let you screengrab Instant Video playback

There are a couple of additional features designed to enhance the video experience, one of which is Amazon X-Ray. This brings up IMDB-powered information on any film or TV show you're watching.

It responds to each scene, telling you which actors are appearing and what other projects they've been in. For movie fans, it's a great help in connecting the where-have-I-seen-them-before dots.

Amazon Fire HD 7 2014 review

Again, blank screen aside, this shows you an example of the X-Ray feature

Similarly, if you have an Amazon Fire TV or a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 you can use a feature called Second Screen. It lets you use the Fire HD 7 as a remote control for content and a display for X-Ray while watching content on your TV.

Books and magazines are also supported through Amazon's online store which, with books in particular, is very well stocked. In both cases you can search for a particular title or browse through curated collections or check via genre.

Amazon Fire HD 7 2014 review

Books - Amazon's bread and butter

Reading content on the Fire HD 7 isn't as easy on the eyes as the Kindle Paperwhite's e-ink screen, but the screen is nice and sharp and there's the added benefit of quiet mode and adjustable brightness.

Amazon Fire HD 7 2014 review

When not reading about coments, I brush up on a little Thomas Hardy

Music follows the same trend, giving you an extensive collection to choose from as well as suggested artists you might like.

In an effort to tempt you in, Amazon offers also a free track of the week that you can have for nothing. It's like the free app giveaway and means you can build up a handful of songs without having to part with your cash.

Amazon Fire HD 7 2014 review

Free music too

Of course, you don't have to use Amazon's own music services because streaming clients like Spotify are available on the Amazon appstore. And, given the relative lack of space on the HD 7 tablet, streaming seems the better option.

Despite the walled garden approach to the Amazon Fire HD 7, this is still built on Google's Android platform and loading your own media onto the tablet isn't difficult. You can attach it to a Windows PC or Mac and copy files over without any hassle.

If you're a Mac user, you'll need to install the Android File Transfer program, but otherwise putting your own films and documents onto the fire HD 7 isn't difficult at all.

I touched on gaming earlier in the review, and like everything else, Amazon has a pretty decent selection to choose from. I spent a fair bit of time playing the likes of Real Racing 3 and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and noticed the HD 7 stayed cool to the touch throughout.

Amazon Fire HD 7 2014 review

Gaming puts the quad-core processor to work

If there's an issue with media on the HD 7, it comes from the lack of storage space. With only a choice between 8GB and 16GB and no microSD card expansion, you're going to look to streaming for the majority of your content. The native space will fill up quickly if you decide to go heavy on games and apps.