Costing just 50 bucks, Amazon's Fire tablet is definitely a bargain, but it looks so much like the company's original Kindle Fire, and is so cheap, that I've got to thinking.
Did Amazon just put old hardware in a new package?
Let's find out.
I'm Bill Detwiler and this is Cracking Open.
Released in 2011 for $200, Amazon's original Kindle Fire was a moderately priced tablet with average specs.
It was more of an entertainment device and a shopping portal than anything else.
The new Fire tablet takes this concept to the extreme.
But does it at a quarter of a cost?
It's dimensions are nearly identical to the original Kindle Fire, but it weighs slightly less and has a more rounded back cover.
It also has a lot of features the older tablet didn't have like cameras, a microphone and a micro SD card slot.
Which is good because like the original Kindle Fire, It only has 8 gigs of internal storage and more than 2 of that is used for the operating system.
Also like the original Kindle Fire, the screen has a 1024 by 600 pixel resolution.
So it's not high definition like Amazon's Fire HD tablet.
And the front panel isn't made with Gorilla glass so it's not as durable as many of the other tablets on the market.
But this is just what we can see from the outside.
What I'm really interested in is what is different on the inside.
Time to crack it open and see.
I cracked open the original Kindle Fire back in 2011 And thanks to a back cover that just popped off, that task was relatively simple.
Luckily, cracking open the new Fire is just as easy.
Using a guitar pick and plastic tool, I remove the back cover which gave me access to the inside Internal components.
Now both the new Fire and its older cousin share a similar hardware layout with the speaker located at the bottom, battery in the middle and system board at the top.
But that's really where the similarities end.
The new Fire's battery is both physically smaller and has less capacity.
The Fire also has a single speaker compared to the earlier tablet's stereo setup.
The circuit board has been redesigned to allow room for the new cameras, volume buttons and micro SD card slot.
And there's also metal shielding on the system board instead of on the back cover.
The first component to come out was the battery.
Followed by the two megapixel rear facing camera.
After disconnecting a few cables and removing several screws, I lifted out the system board and speaker which is soldered to it.
Unlike the original Kindle Fire, the new Fire's front panel and display are a single unit.
To remove them I would need to heat the adhesive that holds them to the plastic frame and pry them loose.
If I don't want to risk breaking either the LCD or the glass I decided to leave them in place.
I did however, remove the large metal shield from the system board.
Underneath it is a 1.3 gigahertz media tech [UNKNOWN] cortex quad core processor An 8 gigabyte Samsung EMMC storage module, and a 1 gig Samsung DRam chip.
So from out tear down, we basically found that the new Fire has an upgraded processor, all be it a less powerful one, compared to today's high-end tablets.
And the same amount of RAM and storage as the original Fire.
No wonder Amazon can sell this thing for 50 bucks.
Like its predecessor, the 2015 is a no-frills tablet designed for browsing the web, playing Amazon content, running Amazon approved apps, and helping you purchase merchandise from Amazon.
As I said when I cracked open the original Fire, this is really the tablet's defining characteristic.
It basically puts Amazon's retail store right in your hands, which is a lot less relevant today, thanks to Amazon's mobile app.
But if you're a Prime subscriber who's looking for an ultra cheap tablet, like one you'd give to the kids, or to the host of a CNet show, And not worry about them breaking it?
The Fire is definitely worth considering.
Now for more information on the Fire, including real world tests and current pricing information, check out the full Seen It review.
And for more For tear down photos and my full hardware analysis check out TechRepublic.com.
I'm Bill Detwiler.
Thanks for watching.
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