Fire 7″ 2015: first impressions and menu map
I have recently received and have been exploring my
Let’s get a couple of things out of the way.
Is this, by far the least expensive backlit table Amazon has done, worth the $50?
Can you tell they’ve cut a few corners?
Let’s start out with something which won’t affect your use of it, but was…different.
You aren’t going to see an unboxing video of the Fire 7…because it didn’t come in a box. ;)
It was more like…a semi-rigid lunch bag.
Yep, and that came in a padded envelope: I assume that saved them some money.
Second, the charger did look…cheap (and had a short cable, which does save money):
With that out of the way…
It does just about everything…apps, games, videos, e-books, Prime Music, audiobooks, web surfing.
The screen is a bit less clear than my other Fires, but acceptable for me.
The sounds isn’t as good…but again, acceptable.
I’d say it’s reasonably comfortable to hold. I do have a cover coming…I’ll like it better with that.
This might be a matter of slight individual variation, but the screen isn’t quite flush with the case…the case is a little taller. That’s not the case with my (now discontinued) Kindle Fire HDX.
The thing that makes it look the cheapest, I’d say, is that the power button and the volume rocker are both silver colored…like they haven’t been “painted”, unlike my other Fires. Outside of that, it’s pretty sleek looking.
Here is a picture comparing the size of it with the
which is the smaller one on top in this picture:
As to the interface…I like it!
This is the new Fire OS 5 (which will come to some older models…my guess is Fire tablets at OS 4, which goes back to the 3rd generation).
It feels a lot more like an Android phone. You swipe up to unlock it. You “long press” an icon to put it on top of another icon to start a folder. You have a back button.
I think people used to using any SmartPhone will be able to pick it up and start using it pretty easily.
Okay, let’s start working through this. In this post, I’ll do menus outside of specific content (I won’t go into the menus or interface inside a book in this post, for example…this one will be long enough without that). ;) I’ll follow up with a part 2 before too long.
On the lockscreen, which is somewhat configurable, I see
- The name of the device: this one is “Dupres” for me…this is a 5th generation Fire, and “V” is the Roman numeral for 5…and Dupres was the last name of a couple of characters in the original V TV show
- If there are any notifications, I see the number next to the name…and I can swipe left to right over that to read them…and to pull in a bunch of controls including Airplane Mode. In the pop-up from the swipe, I see: the time; the day and date; the battery level; a profile icon; brightness control; wi-fi info; airplane mode; Bluetooth; do not disturb; camera; help; autorotation lock; settings; those notifications (and I can tap to go to any of these things); and a Clear All. I’ll call this the “Quick Access panel”…it will show up again
- Wi-fi signal strength
- Battery charge level
- Profile icon
- Time, day, and date
- An ad (which is the wallpaper)
- A swipable little icon (not quite sure what it is supposed to be) which brings up thae offers
- A padlock: if you tap it, it tells you to swipe up to unlock
- The camera (swipe left to access…like a lot of phones, you can take a picture without unlocking the tablet)
On the top edge of the device, there are those physical buttons: the power button and the volume rocker. For some reason, I keep hitting the volume when I want to hit the power…it’s not because it’s like my other models, because they don’t have the volume and the power on the same edge. That won’t matter once my “autosleep” cover is here. I’ll tell you which one I got after I try it out. :) Also on the top edge: the headphone jack and the power/micro-USB.
On one edge is the micro-SD card slot: wow, the cover seems like it would be easy to break off. We’ll see…it swings out, by the way.
Once I unlock the device, I’m at the homescreen.
The top has:
- The device’s name
- The notifications
- Wi-fi strength
- Battery charge level
Below that is a searchbox. Tap it to bring up the keyboard.
Note that this (I think only this model) does not have dictation…there is no microphone icon to enable you to speak your request. It also doesn’t allow “trace typing”, like the Swype keyboard. I’d miss both of those, for sure, if this was my only tablet. I use the Swype style a lot on my Kindle Fire HDX…and the dictation.
Once you’ve typed it in, you can hit a yellowish magnifying glass button to search.
You get Web results, Amazon, and “My Stuff”. I like the look of this! Seems like good functionality, although I would prefer it to default to My Stuff. There might be an economic reason for that…Amazon might be getting something from Microsoft (Bing was my default browser, but I think I can change that) for its results displaying first.
On the My Stuff tab, there is an additional link at the bottom to “Search emails, calendar, contacts and more”.
It’s worth noting now something that might throw someone used to earlier Amazon devices: at the bottom of the screen, we have three icons. One is a left pointing pyramid, which means back…that’s deducible. The middle icon is a circle: that’s the new icon for Home (it used to look like a stylized house). Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s reminiscent of the Home physical button on an iPhone. There is also a square…that’s for recent items, the equivalent of the Carousel.
At the bottom of he tab, there are icons. Below the searchbox, HOME is a highlighted link in a selection ribbon (the equivalent of the tabs on earlier Amazon tablets), and LIBRARY (with a 3 by 3 grid). Ghosted between those are the content tabs…BOOKS, VIDEO…
Tapping the Library brings up an apps library. That has
- APPS (ALL, DOWNLOADED)
- APP UPDATES
On the apps tab, I’m only seeing The Washington Post…not the Fire apps that came on it. I can open that app, or use the menu (three dots), which lets me delete it from the device, delete it from the Cloud (I wouldn’t recommend that…you surrender your license, meaning that anyone who is now or may be on your account in the future who wants to use it in the future will have to pay for it again…if it’s even available), and Share.
Share is new…tapping it, I get
Note that this is not sharing the functionality of the app…just a link to it.
On the APPS tab, I also have a link to the Appstore (it looks like a shopping cart), a menu (three horizontal lines) which lets me sort by Title or “Recency) and Filter Apps (this has an option to “Show Apps on External Storage”), and a search.
Going back to the homescreen…
Swiping down from the top, I get that Quick Access panel.
Swiping left to right, I see my Recent.
Swiping right to left, I move to the next item on the content ribbon, which is BOOKS.
Going back to the homescreen…
Let’s talk about that Quick Access panel.
Tapping brightness seems obvious…I don’t see an option for autobrightness here, which I think is not available on this model. Remember that how bright your screen is really affects how quickly your battery drains.
Wi-fi icon (with the name of the network): tapping that takes me to wi-fi settings).
Airplane Mode: tapping that puts your Fire into “island mode”…nothing that connects to anything else, including wi-fi and Bluetooth.
Bluetooth: turns this short range wireless connection on and off. Bluetooth will also run down your battery charge, although I think having your Fire set on the brightest possibility may be worse.
Do Not Disturb cuts off notifications.
Camera opens the camera…natch. ;)
Help…this has been redesigned, and deserves a mention.
- There are tips at the top, and you can swipe through them. Right now, I’m seeing “Having trouble wit the Silk Web Browser”; “Want to Deregister Your Fire?”; “Need Help with Parental Controls?”; “Having Trouble with Screen Rotation?”; and “Incorrect Time Displaying?”
- User Guide (this might be just online)
- Help Videos
- Contact Us: Phone & Email; Feedback
- Auto-Rotate (on or off)
Let’s do Settings:
- Wireless: Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; Location-Based Services; Airplane Mode
- Storage: 1-Tap Archive; Internal Storage (tap this for detail…which seemed to refresh much more quickly than on Kindle Fire HDX, but I don’t have that much on it yet); and “Expand Your Device Storage”, which was a link to “recommended SD Cards on Amazon”
- Power: Smart Suspend (this cuts off wireless when the device is idle to save power)…it defaults to Automatic Smart Suspend on, and also lets you schedule Smart Suspend; Advanced: Display Settings (Wallpaper…yes, you can select any picture from your personal Amazon photos. This is new on a Fire tablet, and is something people have wanted), Display Sleep (it didn’t give me a choice for anything longer than 30 minutes…I want “none”, so I choose when it sleeps. It goes as short as 15 seconds), Font Size (for the menus…Normal, Large, or Huge ((like lattes at Starbucks, they don’t want any to mean “small”)). I’m using Huge), When Device is Rotated (Autorotation); Wireless Settings
- Apps & Games: Manage All Applications (this is like we had before, where you can clear the data, clear the cache ((some apps may need this regularly…I find that’s the case with CNN)), Force Stop, Uninstall)…that’s on Downloaded. Tap on RUNNING, and you’ll see all the memory usage, including of your RAM. From RUNNING, you can get to ALL; Amazon Application Settings. There are so any Settings here! I’m doing it’s on list, then I’ll get back to Device
Apps & Games, Amazon Application Settings
- Amazon GameCircle: Show GameCircle in Library (defaulted on); Share Your GameCircle Nickname (defaulted off); Whyspersync for Games (defaulted on)
- Appstore: In-App Purchasing (defaulted Enabled); Automatic Updates (defaulted Enabled); Notifications for Appstore (defaulted Enabled); External Market Links (defaulted to “Ask Before Opening”); Version (I’m on 9.10.10)
- Audiobooks: High Quality Format (defaulted off); Jump Back (defaulted to 30 seconds…you can go as short as ten seconds, as long as 90 seconds); Legal Notices
- Camera: Keep original image (defaulted off…if enabled, it will “Save only the post-processed HDR image”)
- Email, Contacts, Calendar: each of those have their own sub-menus. Hm…worth another sublist
Apps Games, Amazon Application Settings, Email, Contacts, Calendar
- Default Message Text Size (defaulted to Small…can go as large as Extra Large)
- Show Embedded Images (defaulted on)
- Attachment (automatically downloads attachments on Wi-Fi…defaulted off, I turned it on)
- Reply: Include Original Message in Replies (defaulted on)
- Compose: Text Formatting Controls in Compose (defaulted off)
- After delete, go to (defaults to Message list…can also choose Newer message or Older message)
- Conversation Settings: Group Messages into Conversations (defaulted on); Conversations Include Sent and Drafts Folder (defaulted off)
- Create New Contacts in (you can choose an account…Amazon is a choice, as is the e-mail I set up. I want to know more about creating contacts at Amazon. That sounds good to me, but what can they do with it?)
- Sort by (defaults to First Name)
- Name Format (defaults to First name first)
- Synchronize contacts across Amazon device (defaulted on)
- Delete Amazon Contacts from Cloud (not enabled and can’t be turned on…I must not have any Amazon contacts yet)
- Set Reminder Time (defaulted to 15 mins before…can go as high as 1 week before)
- Week Starts On (defaulted to Locale default)
- Time Zone defaults to Default….you can choose from world timezones)
- Sync Amazon Calendar (defaulted on…”Amazon Cloud Events are synchronized across Amazon devices and services”…I wouldn’t want these to appear in my public Amazon profile or on the
- Delete Calendar Events from Cloud (again, not available to me)
- A listing of them
- Set Account Color
- Add Account (this worked easily for a couple that I’ve tried…just my e-mail address ((which also added calendars for Google)) and password. It seemed to know all the tricky stuff)
Back to Apps & Games, Amazon Application Settings
- Home Screen Settings: Home Recommendations (defaulted on); Show New Items on the Home Page (defaulted on); Show Apps on the Recent Page (defaulted on)
- Music…this one has several sections, so another mini-list:
- Music: Downloading: Automatically download new Amazon digital music purchases (defaulted off); Clear Cache (this is how you clear Now Playing, among other things)
- Music: Playback: Streaming bitrate (defaulted to Auto); Streaming Chache Size (defaulted to 100 MB)
- Music: Your Account: Gift Cards & Promotions; Add Music to Library
- Music: Other: Legal; Version (mine is at 10.0.44)
Back to Amazon Application Settings…
- Photos: Auto-Save (both Photos and Videos…both set to save by default); Only when charging (defaulted off); Manage Folders (upload folders to your Amazon Cloud Drive); Hidden (Show Hidden defaulted off, Review Hidden Photos & Videos): Cloud Drive (Manage Cloud Drive Storage, Send Feedback)
- Reader Settings: Books: Popular Highlights (defaulted on…I turned mine off), About This Book (defaulted on), Whispersync for Books (defaulted on); Language Learning: Word Wise (defaulted off); Newsstand: Magazine Page Curl (defaulted on
- Settings: Local Weather (defaulted on); Temperature (defaulted on); Wind Speed: defaulted off; Synchronize Locations (defaulted off…this will sync your locations across your Amazon devices)
- About Silk (I’m at version 45.1.99)
- Special Offers: link to the Offers library; Personalized Recommendations (defaulted to on); Content filtering (hides offers “…containing images or situations that may not be suitable for all audiences”)…defaulted to off
- Video: SD Download Quality (defaulted to Good); Download Videos to SD Card (defaulted on, but mine notes that a card is not present; Disable HD purchase warning (defaulted off…by default it will warn you about the larger size of HD videos); Clear Video Search History; Version (mine is 1.0.365.1)
Collect App Usage Data (defaulted to on…”Allows Appstore to collect information on the frequency and duration of use of downloaded apps”)
Back to Device…
- Display: Wallpaper (pick your image here); Display Brightness; Display Sleep (how long); Font Size; When Device is Rotated
- Device Options: Change Your Device Name; Battery (x%); Date & Time; Find Your Tablet; Backup & Restore (this has both the option to Backup & Restore your device which is defaulted on, and Save Wi-Fi Passwords to Amazon ((defaulted on))…there was a learn more link: interestingly, I can read it on my Fire, but I can’t find it by searching Help. Bottom line: this does just what you would want it to do! It backs up your wi-fi passwords to Amazon, if you want, allowing them to automatically set up new devices on your account. You can delete them from Amazon if you want, and if you change it on one device, it will change for the others. This is a terrific innovation! This should be coming to the older devices that get OS 5…it even affects Dash buttons :)
- System Updates: (I’m on 5.0.1)
- Reset to Factory Defaults (this is a “nuclear option”…only to be used in the event of a really serious situation)
- Device Model (mine just says “Fire (5th Generation)”)
- Serial Number
- My Account: Deregister; Amazon Account Settings (including payment options…I’m sure you’ll have to be on wi-fi to do this); Prime Settings; Social Networks (Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
- Profiles & Family Library
- Parental Controls: you can manage profiles; you need to enter a password to do Parental Controls…once you’ve done that,, you can block or unblock: Web Browser; Email, Contacts, Calendars; Social Sharing; Camera (all blocked by default); Amazon Stores (no blocked default); Password Protect Purchases (on by default, once you’ve turned on Parental Controls); Password Protect Video Playback (on my default); Block and Unblock specific content types (Newsstand, Books, Audiobooks, Music, Videos, Docs, Apps, Games, and Photos); Change Password; Password Protect Wi-Fi (on by default); Password Protect Location Services (on by default)
- Security: Lock Screen Passcode (off by default…I turned mine on); Change Passcode; Automatically Lock; Apps from Unknown Sources (I have mine on…I think I might have switched it); Credential Storage; Device Administrators
- Sound & Notification; Media Volume; System & Notification Volume; Default Notification Sound (many choices here); Do Not Disturb (you can create a schedule here);Notifications: When Device Is Locked; App Notifications (pick which ones)
- Keyboard & Language: Language (defaulted to English United States…many choices. If I switch to English United Kingdom, I can select my regional forma, affecting the display of, for instance, dates); Text-to-Speech (set the voice); Current Keyboard…this includes Keyboard Settings…time for a mini-list
Fire Basic Keyboard Settings
- Preferences: Auto-Capitalization (on by default); Double-space Period (on by default); Sound on Keypress (off by default)
- Appearance & Layout: Theme (defaulted to Dark, Light is also available); Custom Input Style (German QWERTY or French QWERTZ)
- Text Correction: Personal Dictionary; Add-On Dictionaries; Block Offensive Words (on by default); Auto-Correction (spacebar and punctuation automatically correct mistyped words; Show Correction Suggestions; Personalized Suggestions; Suggest Contact Names; Next-word Suggestions (all of these are on by default)
- Advanced: (nothing was available to me there…I suspect it is on other models)
- Sync Device
- Accessibility: VoiceView (lots of settings for this); Screen Magnifier (this was off by default…I turned it on right away! I use this a lot: triple tap to magnify); Font Size (for the interface…there will be more choices inside books); Closed Captioning (off by default0; Closed Captioning Preferences; Convert Stereo to Mono (off by default); Accessibility User’s Guide; Services (mine says No Services Installed)
- Legal & Compliance
Holy moley, that was a lot of choices!
There are some really significant improvements. I stopped what I was doing to explain the wi-fi password storage to my Significant Other: that doesn’t happen often!
I said Amazon would have a hit with this device…they have already commented on how successful it has been so far!
I’ll do another post (probably not next) on controls within content.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, or comments, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.
Update: two of my readers had excellent points!
BG pointed out that the warranty is only three months on this model…not a year as it is generally on Kindle/Fires. You can buy a 1-year warranty for $11.99:
You can also buy longer terms for more money.
Elaine Jordan asked a terrific question, and the answer does…disappoint me a bit.
I should have noticed when I was listing the Display menu settings but this model, and only this model in the current generation, does not mirror to a capable TV or other device. Certainly, that saved some money.
I probably mirror to my TV a couple of times a week on average. It’s not a lot, but when I do use it, it’s a important.
Mirroring means that whatever is on my device shows on the TV live. For example, I might be streaming video from another site, like http://www.archive.org. Alternatively, I might be on a website and want to share it with my Significant Other (this is just an example…I don’t do that a lot).
Is that worth $50 more to move to the
I would guess not, for most people. That one is also a smaller screen, and many people (including me) could mirror from a SmartPhone instead.
Thanks to Elaine and BG for pointing out these weaknesses! I still think the Fire 7 is a good buy…just perhaps not as good as I thought. ;)
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