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Summary:

Amazon’s Kindle Fire makes for a great tablet, so long as you don’t mind the custom user interface and lack of supported Google services. A new custom software installation turns the Kindle Fire into a fully functional Android 4.2.1 tablet and it looks great.

Kindle Fire HD - 7

Owners of the original Kindle Fire that want to experience the full Google tablet experience have another option now. A full build of the latest Android 4.2.1 software is available for the Kindle Fire; with a few steps, you can download it, install it and practically turn your Kindle Fire into a Nexus 7 tablet, save for a few functions.

The steps to download or install are available from the XDA Developers site and of course, it’s recommended to perform a full backup of your Kindle Fire in advance. Installing the software will completely remove Amazon’s Kindle Fire software, which uses a customized version of Android. You’ll lose the ability to watch Amazon Instant Video if you take the plunge, but your Kindle Fire will gain far more as it can be used as a full Android tablet.

How well does the Kindle Fire work as an Android 4.2.1 tablet? Pretty good, based on Liliputing’s hands-on video:

I wouldn’t foresee most Kindle Fire owners make the leap of turning their device into a full Android tablet, but enthusiasts might.

Thanks to occasional sales and refurbished deals, you can pick up the Kindle Fire for less than its $159 current price. Add this custom software to a low-cost Kindle Fire and you have a compelling Android tablet without paying full price for a Nexus 7 or other small slate. You won’t have camera support and the screen resolution of the Kindle Fire is lower than the Nexus 7, but it’s still a compelling solution on the cheap.

  1. would love to do this since I already own a first gen Kindle fire that is just working as a cushion for my Nexus 4….the developer instruction is pretty much not understandable for me.

    If you could get someone at your shop or the guy at Liliputing to do a video of the actual install process that would be very helpful.

    The instructions given there imply a level of understanding and knowledge that I just do not have.

    Thanks in advance if you can make that happen.

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  2. does this work on the kindle fire hd as well?

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    1. No. Custom ROMs are generally device specific due to support for all of the internal hardware bits.

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  3. What are your impressions on how this might affect Amazon’s business model of subsidizing up front initial costs and making up the differences on later media sales?

    Wondering if such a work around cheats Amazon and disincentives subsidization.

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    1. I doubt Amazon is too worried. Few folks will actually do this and even for those that do, Amazon MP3s and Kindle books are still supported.

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  4. Mathew Pankratz Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    I own a brand new Kindle Fire, that I more or less love. My mom purchased it for me for Christmas. When I got it I downloaded a bunch of games and stuff only to discover that amazon ships it with HER info preloaded. That’s great if you’re buying it for yourself, but very bad as a gift. I bought a bunch of things (very cheap things in the grand scheme of things, fortunately) that were bought on her account. I realized the error, paid her back and fixed it with my name- only to discover that now NONE of what I bought was available. BAH! So now I’m stuck with her account and I’ve got to pay her for whatever I want. Some of the things already had very important info that’d be difficult to duplicate, otherwise she’d get her refund and I’d start over.

    Anyway, being that this is a new Kindle Fire, has Swype, camera and very good HD screen, what would I really NOT have that say a Nexus 7 has?

    What would I lose by doing this? Since I have my mom’s account in here still, I do get her Prime instant video which is great for watching the old doctor who episodes I’m trying to catch up on, but aside from that, is there really much that’s not available through Google Play?

    Someone could make some money buying these and re-selling them…

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  5. Good article. But the picture used is a Kindle fire HD.

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