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Turning a Kindle Fire HD Into a Power Tablet 81

Posted by timothy
from the or-at-least-giving-it-some-muscle-tone dept.
jfruh writes "The Kindle Fire HD is in theory a powerful device at a reasonable price — but its Android-based OS is so oriented towards Amazon's ecosystem that it can be tricky to unlock its full potential. Still, with a little savvy you can get underneath the covers, improving battery life, getting full access to cameras and other devices, and even listening to music you've purchased through iTunes."
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Turning a Kindle Fire HD Into a Power Tablet

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  • by tsj5j (1159013) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:45AM (#42871747)

    Kindle Fire HD isn't especially cheap or well-specced for its' price. For a little more, you can support the idea that Android users DO want devices not laden with locked bootloaders, operating systems, forced UI makeovers, etc. with a Nexus 7.

    • by ckblackm (1137057)
      It gets a little harder to find a comparably priced and specced tablet for the 8.9" version.
      • by tsj5j (1159013) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:16PM (#42872115)

        The Nexus 10 is larger, higher-res and better specced at $85 more (comparing ad-free).

        I'll willing spend that much to vote with my wallet for an open, customizable device; not for one which is laden with commercials, locked to a single provider and essentially wants you to consume content only. I certainly don't want it to become like a portable TV, for viewing certain sanctioned content only.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Well, if you've got the coin to blow an additional 30% to make a point... certainly go for it. For everyone else, there's this.
          • by tsj5j (1159013) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:16PM (#42872793)

            A few points of contention here...

            1.) You are implying I'm blowing 30% only to make a point, which is only partly true. The extra money pays for better specs and future proofing. The Nexus 10 can probably last you longer (longer support for latest apps, longer support for new Android updates from Google) than the Fire HD can. Long-term, the Nexus 10 is definitely the better value proposition.

            2.) Tablets are in itself a luxury for most. 10 inch tablets are even more so the luxury than their 7 inch counterparts, where Nexus 7 is the priced the same as the ad-ridden Kindle Fire HD 7 inch. If you're spending 300+ dollars on a "want", 80 dollars more is barely a stretch, isn't it.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              No you're right, those are entirely fair points. You'd definitely be getting a nicer device that has greater flexibility and freedom OOB, and you get better hardware. And yes, I'd agree that any tablet is a luxury item.

              That said, the additional $85 is more of a stretch for people that don't care as much about the software flexibility as you or I do. To them, it's $85 for a bigger screen.

              I was a little unfair about that in my original post, but I only point this out because I went through this exact argument

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by ckblackm (1137057)
          If you've got the money, then by all means... the Nexus 10 has better specs... but if money isn't so easy to come by.. you buy what you can afford.. and then use nice articles like this to make your experience more enjoyable.
          • by tsj5j (1159013)

            The extra money pays for better specs and future proofing. The Nexus 10 can probably last you longer (longer support for latest apps, longer support for new Android updates from Google) than the Fire HD can. Long-term, the Nexus 10 is definitely the better value proposition.

            • by ckblackm (1137057)
              With new tablets coming out so frequently... I'm not so sure "future proofing" would get you very far.
          • If you don't have the money, you shouldn't be buying a tablet in the first place. It's purely a luxury item.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by MangoCats (2757129)

          I have a 10" tablet (iPad) and I actually prefer the 8.9" form factor, it's easier to handle - 7" is even more convenient to carry, but around the house, 8.9" is my personal sweet spot - so, no bonus assigned for a bigger screen that makes the device unwieldy to use.

          Resolution: do I really care if my tablet has more pixels than my 42" TV? Personally, 1920x1080 is good enough for me - and well worth having as compared to the first generation iPad, it is much easier to read.

          $85 more? Well, let's just say I

        • by bulled (956533)

          The Nexus 10 is larger, higher-res and better specced at $85 more (comparing ad-free).

          I'll willing spend that much to vote with my wallet for an open, customizable device; not for one which is laden with commercials, locked to a single provider and essentially wants you to consume content only. I certainly don't want it to become like a portable TV, for viewing certain sanctioned content only.

          You have an interesting definition of open...

        • by ericcc65 (2663835)

          Everyone seems to be forgetting a couple of things, and part of the reason I bought the Kindle. The speakers are supposedly better on the Kindle and the Dual Band/Dual Antenna WiFi can also make for a faster internet experience. So I wouldn't say it's a slam dunk that the Nexus 10 is "better specced."

        • by Sepodati (746220)

          not for one which is laden with commercials

          There's an add on the lock screen. You see it for a second or two, if you even notice it, while you unlock the device. That's it. Hardly "laden", but buy what you want.

          • That's rationalization. The whole "it's my device, I should be able to do what I want with it" concept should extend to having the choice of not seeing ads if I don't want to. Whether a second or two is an acceptable annoyance is purely subjective, and for some the threshold is zero as the whole concept of being unable to escape being shown ads everywhere is unacceptable to many.

    • Nexus 7 screen is smaller and sucks ass compared to the Fire HD 8.9. But the Nexus 7 does have a better processor.

      • I compared devices thoroughly before purchasing my Nexus 7 and I have to say that I find the screen size just about perfect. It's sharp, responsive and sized at a very convenient format. Plus, as you mentioned the processor is definitely superior.

        I could understand wanting to convert an existing device if you already own a Kindle Fire, but if you're buying a new one I think the Nexus 7 is the way to go hands down. The Kindle is essentially a waste of money if you compare what you get between the two devices

        • Nexus 7 screen does suck balls though. It's not even in the same league. If you care about reading, the Kindle is clearly the better option of the two.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            I've already read through two books on my Nexus 7, so I can tell you from experience it functions just fine as an eReader. I'm not sure what you're getting at in terms of screen differences, because they have identical resolutions (and PPI).. Even the Color Gamut is identical, though the red range is superior on the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD does better with greens and yellows.

            The only real noticable difference between the two screens is factory calibration and range of brightness, and it's minor. You

            • by JazzLad (935151) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:11PM (#42872749) Homepage
              But the Kindle has HD right there in the name, it has to be a better screen!!!11@
        • by cusco (717999)
          Maybe not important to most people, but the Nexus 7 fits into the inside pocket of most jackets very nicely, and even into the front pockets of some of my slacks. I have a bag already for my laptop, the Nexus lets me walk around without carrying something over my shoulder.
    • Kindle Fire HD isn't especially cheap or well-specced for its' price. For a little more, you can support the idea that Android users DO want devices not laden with locked bootloaders, operating systems, forced UI makeovers, etc. with a Nexus 7.

      Moreover, the Kindle has no GPS. It's mind-boggling that Amazon decided to save a few cents and not include a GPS-capable chip in the Kindle.

      • Because there's not a maps app on it?

      • by Sique (173459)
        You don't need an GPS to buy stuff from Amazon. So what's the incentive for Amazon to include a GPS capable chip into a device whose main raison d'etre is to buy from Amazon?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by coldsalmon (946941)

      Perhaps some of us would rather have Amazon spying on us, instead of Google.

  • I tried (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:48AM (#42871791)

    Turning a Kindle Fire HD Into a Power Tablet

    I tried but I couldn't swallow the damn thing

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:50AM (#42871823) Journal

    Given the quite modest price delta between the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7(especially given the latter's slightly punchier specs), how much is your time not worth if you buy the former and do a bunch of messing around to get a only-somewhat-crippled Android 4.0-oddball device when you could get a 'clean' 4.2 device?

    I can see doing it once the cyanogenmod, or similar, matures(assuming the bootloader crack holds out), since that should be a fairly swift nuke-and-pave operation that will bring you up to a version of Android that isn't Amazon's listlessly maintained Amazon Consumption Platform edition; but just incremental poking at the stock OS?

  • Whoa there (Score:4, Funny)

    by Antipater (2053064) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:54AM (#42871857)
    Hold on a second. If you want full access to cameras and other devices after getting under the covers, that's your business. "Unlock [your] full potential" all you want, but I don't want to hear about it!
  • by swanzilla (1458281) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:01PM (#42871963) Homepage
    Act I: Menus, a How-To

    Act II: Rooting and Google Play

  • by guidryp (702488) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:02PM (#42871967)

    Less money, higher screen resolution, Micro-SD memory slot, no adware.
    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/nook-hd-plus-barnes-noble/1110060512 [barnesandnoble.com]

    Workarounds for side-loading apps:
    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/nook-hd-plus-barnes-noble/1110060512 [barnesandnoble.com]

    Root:
    http://www.xda-developers.com/android/permanent-root-for-the-nook-hd-and-hd-unofficial-cm10-for-the-hd/ [xda-developers.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or just install this in your micro-sd slot and reboot.....http://www.n2acards.com/

    • by seebs (15766)

      I don't know that I'd call the sideloading exactly a "workaround". That's just turning on the normal developer features and using them; only real nuisance value there is the thing where sideloaded apps are harder to get to.

      (Disclaimer: I'm planning to ship something for Nook, which is why I happened to find out how to load stuff on it.)

    • by stikves (127823)

      I had tried both devices (nook hd, and kindle hd) in succession, and even with an extra $50 off promotion from staples, I returned the nook hd the next day.

      While it is a much greater hardware, they botched up on software setup. It could not keep connection to my brand new 300Mbit wifi router, and I had no intention to go back to 50mbit (or whatever the older one was). On the other hand kindle was connecting fine, even at 5GHz band. Without connectivity neither of these devices are useful.

      And while searching

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:06PM (#42872005) Homepage
    To save you some trouble, this is basically "how I like my Kindle Fire HD set up." I particularly enjoyed this gem:

    Caps lock: Just double-tap on the SHIFT key and it'll turn into the caps lock key!

    Oh, and the "little savvy" for improving battery life? Turn off GPS, wireless and Bluetooth when you're not using them. Duh.

  • by davmoo (63521) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:11PM (#42872063)

    Why not buy a device that does what you want, and there by support the manufacturer of a more open device so maybe they'll keep doing it, like a Nexus? Instead you'd rather give money to the maker of a closed system, which encourages them to keep it closed since everyone buys their crap anyway, and then you spend your time making it sort of do what you wanted in the first place.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Or you could buy the Nexus 7 which is the exact same price but has a better CPU and GPU and is equal in every other regard hardware wise.

    • The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 has a MUCH better screen. And I mean in every way. I own both devices. There's no comparison. Just wish the Kindle had a better CPU.

      • by Caffinated (38013)
        ...and the Kindle 8.9 is $115 more than said Nexus 7. If you were so inclined, you could spend $85 more than the 8.9 and get the Nexus 10 if the larger size is what you want. If you're happy in the amazon ecosystem, then the kindle is great. If you want a more flexible tablet, just buy the Nexus. If you're spending that much, you might as well get what you want since it's not a big difference price-wise.
        • Just an FYI...the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is $100 more, not $115 more. That said, it is frequently offered on sale and you can get for $250 (like I did). But I agree with your advice overall.

  • Any guide that doesn't help wipe amazon's horrible crap off the device isn't worthy. Put some fresh CM10.1 on it and really get productive.
  • He shows one of the more popular root apps... Which uses a timing issue already "patched" in later versions but not the one the Kindle uses... I got one from work thinking the same thing.

    EVERY OTA FORCED UPDATE UNROOTS IT AND REMOVES GOOGLE APPS ...

    I've sent them multiple complaints and even told them I hope they get a class action suit against them for computer trespass or some equivalent since THEY DON'T OWN THE THE DEVICE I DO (and since I got it from work I never signed any contract).

    It will do this ev

  • Why would you want to read on a backlit display?

    • by Sepodati (746220)

      If you do a lot of reading, I agree. These are more general purpose tablets, even though they carry the "Kindle" name.

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