Amazon has just refreshed their Fire 7 tablet a couple of weeks ago. This is not breaking any new ground, in terms of hardware specs, but Amazon utterly dominates the low-end of the tablet spectrum. It retails for $59 in the United States and $79 in Canada, which is very affordable. One of the big strengths of this device is the ability to buy digital books and audiobooks and the payments are handled by Amazon. Recently, Amazon disabled in-app payments on any smartphone and tablet that has access to the Google Play Store, making them glorified consumption only apps. Sure, you can sideload in the Amazon App Store if your country support its or install the Samsung Galaxy App Store, but the Fire 7 provides an experience with way less friction.
The Fire 7 2022 edition features a 7-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 1024 x 600 with 160 PPI. Unlike an e-reader that has a front-lit display, this is a tablet with backlight, so the light is going to be shining into your eyes. There are two colors of the tablet, black and denim. The front of the tablet is always black, but the sides and backplate are in whatever color you choose. Most of the ports are at the top, such as power, volume, USB-C and headphone jack. Most companies put the speaker on the back, but this model has it on the side, so if you are using it while laying back down, your sound will not get muffled.
Amazon is making a big deal with its environmental packaging. The retail box is bright with orange and back hues. It has a big picture of the tablet on the front and some general tech specs on the back. When you open the box, there is a piece of recycled cardboard that the tablet is sitting on, along with the quick start guide, and warranty information. The tablet itself is enclosed in plastic, while the vast majority of the industry has gravitated towards wax paper. The USB-C cable is also held together by plastic too, Amazon could have used a piece of durable paper instead.
Underneath the hood is a MediaTek Quad-core 2.0 GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and either 32 or 64GB of internal storage. If this is not enough, there is an SD card that is capable of an additional 1TB of additional storage. There is a USB-C port for charging it on your computer or plugging into a wall outlet. It has a 2 MP front and rear-facing cameras with 720p HD video recording. Amazon is billing this as a good device for Zoom or Skype calls. The battery is 3750 mAh and you should get around 10 hours of continuous use before you need to recharge it. You can listen to audiobooks, music or podcasts via the 3.5mm headphone jack and there is also a single speaker. It also has Bluetooth 5.1 if you want to use wireless headphones. The dimensions are 7.11″ x 4.63″ x 0.38″ (180.68 mm x 117.59 mm x 9.67 mm) and weighs 9.9 ounces (282 grams).
This new tablet is running Fire OS 8, which is based on Android 11. There is a host of new features and enhancements, such as native support for HEIF image format and there is new privacy and security behavior changes exclusive to apps running on Android 11. A new system wide Dark theme offers improved visibility for vision sensitivity and low-light environments.
Should you buy it? Well, you are not really even getting HD resolution if you are watching video content from Prime Video, Disney Plus or Netflix. This is the type of content that people using a multipurpose tablet for, and the picture quality isn’t really that good. If you listen to audio content such as audiobooks, podcasts, or Spotify, the single speaker isn’t that bad, but it isn’t good either. What about books, magazines, manga, newspapers and other content? It only has 160 PPI, so the text won’t be as razer sharp as a Kindle Paperwhite. In the end, the Fire 7 2022 edition doesn’t do anything great and does not excel at anything either. You get what you pay for, if you want a high resolution screen with Dolby audio or a super high resolution display, you will have to spend some serious money. If you want to buy something very affordable just to occasionally read or listen to audiobooks, it does the job.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.