Kindle Fire on Ice Cream Sandwich Review
Getting bored in the wee hours of the morning usually results to doing something crazy that you’ll eventually regret the next day. The last time I experienced this resulted to having my wife’s rooted Kindle Fire virtually bricked. Luckily a friend saved the day and flashed the Kindle Fire back to life.
After the incident I didnâ€™t touch the damn thing for a week. But boredom got the better of me and saw my hand reaching for the Fire. Thanks to XDA Forums, the Kindle Fire is now running Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
The ROM used is a custom ICS based on CyanogenMod 9 (CM9). Flashing this ROM means saying goodbye to the original Kindle Fire look but giving you more options for customization.
With the help of Apex launcher, the home screen feels more welcome, allowing me to add widgets and shortcuts as I please. Despite the absence of hardware UI Acceleration, the Fire is responsive and the animated transitions are smooth with no lags.
Google Play Store is included in the ROM, giving you full access to the whole Android Marketplace. With the original Kindle Fire ROM, you can only download content from Amazon’s own store. But since I donâ€™t have an Amazon account nor do I have any reason to create one, letting go of the Amazon store was easy.
Then I remembered my downloaded eBooks. I honesty fell in love with the stock Kindle Fire eBook reader and I donâ€™t want to settle with anything in the Play Store. Good thing an Amazon Kindle app is available so, that fixed my eBook problem.
Games run well on the Kindle Fire. Although some games like the Samurai vs Zombies Defense freezes the Fire and requires a reboot. But I can live with it since Angry Birds Space and Temple Run runs perfectly.
With its 7-inch IPS TFT display, playing movies on it is a lot better than on a 4-inch smartphone. I have to install a media player on it though as the default player canâ€™t play my AVI files. Movie playback is smooth with no problems, although you’ll experience slight stutters (choppiness) when youâ€™re running a lot of apps in the background.
A YouTube app is also included and looks fantastic. Watching videos on it is as easy as pie. But you have to forget about watching HD videos for now as the custom ICS ROM canâ€™t fully utilize the Fire’s GPU yet.
Playing music on this ROM is a bit disappointing. Although the music app can play music files, it still needs some tweaks to make if fully optimized for the Kindle Fire. It lacks visual appeal and the absence of swipe gestures in the music app makes it difficult to adjust volumes since the Fire doesnâ€™t have physical volume keys.
The batter can last a day and a half if Iâ€™m just using the Fire for reading books and internet browsing. But set the screen to maximum brightness, Wifi on the whole time, some gaming, movies and book reading, you’ll run empty in just 8 hours. But this rarely happens as I usually use the Fire for browsing and reading.
One bug I noticed though is that the Kindle Fire runs empty quickly when I turn it completely off. So I just settled to putting it to sleep when I retire for the night.
It’s hard to judge the Kindle Fire under this custom ICS ROM early at this point because it is still under development. Everything works well except for hardware UI acceleration and HD playback. There are still bugs to remove but these are tolerable and didnâ€™t hinder much of my enjoyment. Would I want to revert back to the original Kindle Fire ROM? If it’s Gingerbread, forget it. I can do much more with Ice Cream Sandwich and my wife finds it prettier. But once Amazon releases an ICS based ROM for the Kindle Fire then I might.
Amazon Kindle Fire Specs:
7-inch IPS TFT display @ 1024×600 pixels, 16M colors, 170ppi
1.0GHz Cortex-A9 dual-core (TI OMAP 4430)
8GB internal storage
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Android OS, v2.3 (Amazon Custom)
Li-Ion 4400mAh battery
190 x 120 x 11.4 mm
Amazon Price: $199
To learn more on how to root and install a custom ROM on your Kindle Fire, you can check this one out for ICS. Of course, proceed at your own risk.
Editor’s Note: The Kindle Fire is currently only available via the Amazon Store for $199 (see listing here) although you will find some local stores to carry them at a much higher price.