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Summary:

Tech-savvy Kindle Fire owners planning to turn their $199 tablet into a full-fledged Android slate can roll up their sleeves and get started: There’s now a fully documented process to make it happen. Even better: you can reverse back to a standard Kindle Fire.

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Tech-savvy Kindle Fire owners planning to turn their Amazon tablets into full-fledged Android slates can roll up their sleeves and get started: There’s now a fully documented process to make it happen. Even better is that the solution is reversible. You can now morph the Fire into a Gingerbread tablet and later reinstall Amazon’s customized Kindle Fire software.

Like most mobile device modifications, the solution isn’t yet perfect. Brad Linder, who shared the process over at the Liliputing blog — and tested it twice — notes the biggest issue:

Audio doesn’t work. Graphics and video looks [sic] great and the tablet is excellent for surfing the web, playing games, or performing other activities, but if you need audio you might want to hold off on installing CyanogenMod for now.

Obviously, audio support is important. However, with these types of custom installations, bits are added to address problems all the time. It wouldn’t surprise me if the audio issue is resolved a few short days; I’d watch for updated software that corrects the problem.

Since the Kindle Fire shares similar hardware to currently available 7-inch Android tablets that cost $299 and up, I asked Linder how the custom software performed. He said he hasn’t spent too much time testing the device performance, but his initial impression was that “it feels quite zippy.” That’s not surprising given the dual-core processor used in the Kindle Fire, although the 512 MB of memory is a small performance limitation. Here’s a look at the end result:

Linder also notes that additional tools and software are available to revert back to the original, stock, Kindle Fire environment. Having flashed custom software on my own Android phones and tablets, that’s a highly desirable outcome. Knowing you can always got back to an “out of the box” setting is appealing.

While the steps to all this may look daunting, it’s actually not all that difficult to do. And once all the files are in place, it only takes a few short minutes to flash between the two environments if you want.

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