- New versions of Kindle Fire beefed up for video with faster processors and better screens
- Easy to buy videos from Amazon on Kindle, but you can go through other services
- Nexflix may be an Amazon competitor, but its app is a great fit for the Kindle Fire
The Kindle Fire is a multi-tasker. It is good for reading books, playing games, checking websites, listening to music and even checking e-mail.
But the new class of Amazon tablets really shines with video.
When Amazon updated its Kindle Fire line on Thursday, the company made a number of improvements to the design and interface of the devices that make watching video an even better experience. The new Kindle Fire HD has a faster processor, double the RAM, improved audio and a higher resolution screen that gives off less glare.
The tablet is a tool for consuming content from the Amazon store, including books, music, TV, movies and apps. But Amazon doesn't have a monopoly over how you watch content on the Kindle.
Here are some of the best tools for turning your new Kindle Fire into a 7-inch or 8.9-inch TV screen.
Amazon Prime is Amazon's $79-a-year membership that includes free two-day shipping and access to over 13,000 streaming movies and TV shows. The company pushes the service hard to new Kindle Fire owners, automatically giving them a free month when they activate their new tablet.
Amazon knows the accessibility of good, current video content is an important selling point for Kindle tablets. Earlier in the week, Amazon announced a new licensing deal with cable channel Epix that gives Amazon Prime members free access to 2,000 new movies, including mega-hits like "The Avengers" and "The Hunger Games." A recent partnership with NBCUniversal adds seasons of recent and popular TV shows to the roster, including "Parks and Recreation," "Parenthood" and "Battlestar Galactica."
The Amazon Instant offerings are just a small chunk of what's available for purchase in the Amazon store.
The new versions of the Kindle Fire look like a boost for Netflix fans. The Netflix app was one of the first on the Kindle Fire, but it has struggled with streaming speed and quality issues. The beefed up processor power on the new Kindle Fire should fix that and make viewing movies on Netflix a more enjoyable experience.
The Netflix app is free and a Netflix streaming-only subscription is $7.99 a month, which comes out to almost $96 a year, a bit more than Amazon Prime costs. However, Netflix has a larger library of available movies and TV shows and a sizable number of people already paying for memberships.
Already have cable and want to watch your favorite HBO shows on a tablet? HBO Go is a great app for watching addictive shows like "Boardwalk Empire," "Game of Thrones" and "True Blood," but there is no online-only subscription option. HBO Go is only for existing HBO subscribers on participating cable providers.
Since HBO owns all its own content, the app is thorough, offering all episodes of popular shows -- 1,400 shows in total, according to HBO.
This is another service priced at the $7.99-a-month sweet spot. Hulu Plus is one of the better options for TV addicts who want to watch episodes of popular shows soon after they air. Current offerings include "The Office," "The Colbert Report," "Gossip Girl" and "House."
Older shows also are available in their entirety for binge-watching, including "The X-Files," "Arrested Development" and "Law & Order: SVU." (CW fans can download the free CW app instead and get their "Vampire Diaries" fix with some ads on the side.)
Hulu Plus also has a small collection of movies from Miramax and the Criterion Collection.
There are a few drawbacks. Even though you're paying for the service, there are still some ads, which the company says are necessary because of the high price of fresh TV. Also, not all Hulu Plus shows can be viewed on the Kindle Fire due to some PC-only licensing agreements the company made. Before signing up, check to see that the shows you want to watch are available for your device.
All these subscription services can add up, especially when you start throwing in additional charges for shows and movies purchased or rented. Sometimes you just want to flip through free videos on YouTube.
The Freedi app allows you to convert YouTube videos into MP4 files and save them to your Kindle Fire. You can rewatch the videos anytime you like, even when there's no Internet connection. It's a great option for car trips.
This San Francisco-based Internet TV network has a large selection of shows that you've probably never heard of but should check out. The company was purchased by the Discovery Channel in May and has a hit Kindle Fire app. Get your geek on with episodes of shows such as "Tekzilla," "Geek Beat TV" and "Film Riot."
The app and show are free, and the videos high quality.