Amazon's Kindle Fire HD gets high marks in teardown

Recently on iFixit's operating table, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD got the full treatment and the experts discharged it with a clean bill of health.

Before making any incisions, iFixit declared that the Fire HD "is a different Kindle than last year's tablet," pointing to the physical volume buttons attached to the device's side.

The Kindle Fire HD is on par with Google's Nexus 7 in terms of ease of opening the back case, in contrast to the difficult-to-open iPad from Apple, iFixit said. Once inside, though, the experts were surprised to find the battery enclosed in a metal casing, which iFixit chalks up to structural reinforcement, as well as a battery shield from possible electrical damage.

Another shocker came in the form of a standalone, replaceable headphone jack.

"Amazon: thanks for caring about reparability!" the site said.

The Kindle's inner real estate is taken up mostly by the tablet's lithium-ion battery, while the rest of the space is occupied by the motherboard. Amazon claims the Fire HD has a 1.2GHz processor, while supplier TI reports that their chip throttles up to 1.5GHz.

Part of the appeal of the tablet is its HD camera, of which Amazon doesn't reveal the actual specs. iFixit guessed it's about 1-megapixel running on the Fire HD's native 1280 x 800 resolution. The tablet's only camera is front-facing, which seems to be a point of contention for some users, though iFixit was baffled by their argument.

"As usual, a number of folks are complaining about the lack of a rear-facing camera on the Kindle Fire HD," the site said. "We're left a little puzzled as to why this is such a deal-breaker, considering how funny you look taking pictures with a tablet."

The inner framework of the Fire HD houses the Wi-Fi antenna, as well as the ambient light sensor, microphone, front-facing camera ribbon cable, and headphone jack ribbon cable.

The first sign of trouble comes toward the end of the teardown, when iFixit tried to wrench apart the LCD and front glass panel, which are fused together. This indicates that a broken Fire HD would need to be replaced as an entire assembly, instead of two separate pieces.

Overall, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD earned a repairability score of 7 out of 10 (10 being easiest to repair).

Meanwhile, though little has changed in the non-HD version of the Kindle Fire, iFixit tore it apart, as well, just for giggles. They found that it now has twice the RAM, but is otherwise largely the same as when it was released last year.

For more, see ITProPortal's review of the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, as well as the Kindle Fire HD vs Nexus 7 best value comparison.