Until now, it was practically impossible to find a decent business tablet for less than $100. But Amazon's new 6-inch (15 centimeters) Kindle Fire HD 6 is looking to change that, with quad-core processors, HD screens and handy software features at an incredibly low price. The $99 Fire HD 6 slate debuted alongside the 7-inch (18 cm) Kindle Fire HD 7, a slightly larger slate with identical specs that costs $40 more. Both tablets run on Amazon's own Fire OS, a heavily modified version of Android that's designed to be lightweight and easy to use. But are these cheaper tablets missing too much to be used for work? Read on for five features that might make them good for business.
Let's face it: There aren't a lot of quality tablets in the sub-$150 price range, let alone below $100. That's why budget-minded business users will appreciate the super-affordable price tags attached to the Kindle Fire HD 6 & 7. The smaller Fire HD 6 retails for just $99, while the Fire HD 7 is $139. How does that stack up to the competition? The 7-inch Asus MeMo Pad 7 is a pretty good alternative to the new Fire HD 7 for business users who want a more familiar Android experience. But, at $150, it's a tad pricier than Amazon's tablet. And no other $99 tablet can match the Kindle Fire 6's combination of durable build quality and performance, making it one of the best bargains in mobile tech today. Compare those prices to the cost of more premium small slates: Google's 7-inch Nexus 7 starts at $229, while Apple's iPad mini with Retina display starts at a whopping $399.
So what do you get for such a low price? For starters, you get a durable and reliable tablet. Amazon is touting the toughness of their new budget tablets, especially when stacked up against other cheap slates. Both Fire slates sport tough Gorilla Glass screens that withstand most scratches, as well as tough plastic composite backs that don't bend or flex under pressure. Amazon says the tablets were built to withstand drops from up to 1 meter (3.3 feet) in the air without sustaining damage. That's a big deal for business users who want an affordable mobile device they can depend on, since most budget tablets are too far flimsy to survive that kind of spill.
Amazon's slates look to offer pretty good performance for the price. Both the Kindle Fire HD 6 and 7 versions pack quick 1.5 GHz quad-core MediaTek processors that deliver more speed than competing budget slates. Amazon says both tablets output three times the graphics performance of Samsung's 7-inch Galaxy Tab 4 slate; in a demonstration, both Kindle HD tablets ran a mobile videogame at 40 to 50 frames per second, versus 14 fps on the Samsung slate. For business users, that translates into snappy multitasking and better overall performance for daily productivity tasks like managing your email inbox and viewing documents. Amazon also promises good battery life to help you get through the workday: about eight hours of continuous use between charges.
Bigger isn't always better. Amazon's new tablets are small and portable, making them good picks for commuters who don't want to a heavy slate weighing them down. The 6-inch Fire HD 6, in particular, really blurs the line between smartphone and tablet, with a frame that's small enough to fit in your back pocket. Its display isn't much bigger than the 5.7-inch (14.5 cm) screen on Samsung's Galaxy Note 4, though the Kindle Fire HD 6 is quite a bit bigger overall since it sports wider bezels.
If you've never used an Amazon tablet before, here's where things get interesting. Like other Kindle Fire tablets, the new Kindle Fire HD 6 and 7 run on Amazon's own Fire OS operating system. This is based on Google's Android platform, but has a unique layout. You can select apps from a familiar grid or from the "carousel," a persistent rotator that offers quick access to recently used apps and content.
The new Fire slates also support individual profiles, another feature that's sure to benefit business users. Each user can have his or her own password-protected home screen with a personalized set of apps and content. That's a plus for business users who want to share their devices with friends or family, without accidentally losing or otherwise compromising private business data.
Though Fire OS deserves praise for its ease of use, it has a few notable limitations. For starters, you can't access Google Play, the main Android app store, on any Kindle device. Instead, you're limited to the apps in Amazon's own app store, which offers a smaller selection. Regardless, the store has plenty of good options for business users who want to view and edit documents, take notes or even balance their budgets on the go.
Another notable omission is Mayday, a 24/7 customer service system that lets you connect instantly with an Amazon representative with one tap. The feature, which is only included on more-premium Amazon tablets such as the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, helps small business owners resolve technical difficulties quickly, without the need for an IT department. The budget-priced Kindle Fire HD 6 and 7 do not include Mayday at all.
Originally published on Business News Daily.