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AMAZON’S KINDLE FIRE HD 10 TABLET IS WIDE BUT NOT WONDERFUL

No one product can be all things to all people, that’s the point of variety. It’s why Apple now has multiple sized iPhones and iPads and why Amazon continues to try filling in the gaps on its Kindle Fire tablet lineup with an increasingly eclectic lineup of shapes and sizes. The new Kindle Fire HD 10 is of a piece with that strategy. It’s not a high-end tablet like the Fire HDX 8.9 and not a truly a low-end model like the $99 Kindle Fire HD 6. Instead, the new device sits somewhere in the middle, offering the larger screen consumers want with a $229.99 price more can manage. It’s $244.99 without sponsored lock screens. The problem is I don’t really like it.

There is ostensibly nothing wrong with the tablet. It’s sleek, thin (0.30-inches), lighter than an iPad Air (by more than one ounce), shiny (slippery), has a nice widescreen and is quite adept at content consumption and entertainment. However aside from the side smiling Amazon logo on the back, the Android 5.0 Lollipop-based device looks completely unrelated to Amazon’s forward-leaning and somewhat smaller HDX tablet devices. It is a part of a new line of low-cost, widescreen devices that come in Day-Glo colors like orange, blue and pink. This largest model, though, only comes in black or white.

These new tablets eschew the design language Amazon introduced with the HDX — no dynamic edges, no physical buttons on the back (they’re on the edge like most other tablets). And while the HDX offers a 4:3 aspect ratio, the new tablets, including this 10.1-inch one, opt for a 16:9 screen. The result is something that is so wide and relatively narrow it’s almost unwieldy. Stand it on its narrow edge and it looks like the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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