Kindle Fire as a tablet for school use

Is this a good low cost alternative?

On Friday Amazon were selling the Kindle Fire for £99 (including VAT and delivery).

It seemed too good to be true, so we bought one. A lot of schools are asking us about low cost tablets.

Many primary schools are being advised on IT purchases by their local upper schools or the technical experts in the lead schools of academy clusters.

Here’s a serious set of considerations when looking at these devices for your school.

If you have been advised or recommended to put these into your school network, you may now ask  “Was that good advice?”

Perhaps you should really ask “Who should we be talking with now?”. Our details are at the bottom of the page.

by Mike McSharry


Update – many of the links in the original comments have become broken. it is for this reason that the comments have been edited. 2/4/2013

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  1. This is fascinating. Thank you for sharing all of this information so clearly. Rather worrying to see what is going on behind the scenes. Now I am off to retweet so even more people learn what you have discovered.

  2. Thanks for that Susan.
    It’s very concerning that people look at the price first and last.
    If you’re not the customer then you are the data – why did Amazon take me to so many of their servers?

  3. Very alarming. Thanks for putting this video together to make us all aware of what’s happening in the background.
    Learned about your video from a tweet from Susan.

  4. It is worrying how much happens under the hood. I feel a comparison video for iPad and PlayBook coming along …

  5. Thanks for information Mike. I was thinking about this as an affordable alternative to I-pad but think will continue to save. Would be very interested in comparison video as you suggest.

  6. I’ll need the rest of the house off the Internet (I daren’t publicly say how many devices are active in the house!). And even with my changes the Fire is not going inside our company network until we put the tools in place.

  7. Thanks for this Mike. Some interesting findings.

    Apple and Android devices ‘phone home’ regularly but what you’ve noticed here is more than that. I may follow your lead and run some packet captures for myself. It’s a shame that the kindle fire range seems to be a loss leader for future advertising gains. Not something we’d necessarily want in education.

    The advertisement you found is worrying.

  8. Thanks for the article, I’m happy to run an independent WIRESHARK trap of data from a static iPad with 0 background apps running to see what its dialling home about if you are interested, and I’ll post the results here.

  9. 11.5 Mins of iPad Connection requests from startup, trapped to show “ip.addr and http.connection”. For the trap I excluded my mail app as they are packets I have solicited. This example also includes iCloud which whilst I configured elements of iCloud I do not use mail through iCloud by choice and connections are being made. The single destination IP is for the purposes of this trap. So nothing quite as sinister as the Kindle Fire.
    Note – broken links removed from display

    No. Time Source Destination Protocol Length Info

    188 80.731301000 HTTP 247 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    189 80.733643000 HTTP 249 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    231 82.565663000 HTTP 245 CONNECT HTTP/1.1

    239 82.626314000 HTTP 248 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    240 82.629289000 HTTP 250 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    346 83.265906000 HTTP 249 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    347 83.268423000 HTTP 247 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    412 83.811630000 HTTP 249 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    414 83.816751000 HTTP 247 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    469 84.184284000 HTTP 249 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    479 84.200135000 HTTP 247 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    537 84.578718000 HTTP 249 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    542 84.590384000 HTTP 247 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    593 84.943885000 HTTP 249 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    599 84.974447000 HTTP 247 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    677 85.374437000 HTTP 272 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    693 85.445950000 HTTP 270 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    694 85.449466000 HTTP 272 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    700 85.466186000 HTTP 249 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    774 85.762408000 HTTP 272 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    789 85.810921000 HTTP 270 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    792 85.815784000 HTTP 272 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    799 85.836470000 HTTP 249 CONNECT HTTP/1.1

    1255 94.550298000 HTTP 243 CONNECT HTTP/1.1

    1382 96.113246000 HTTP 243 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    1423 96.819757000 HTTP 243 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    1505 99.080359000 HTTP 247 CONNECT HTTP/1.1
    1529 99.470651000 HTTP 247 CONNECT HTTP/1.1

  10. that was 11.5 minutes – mine was basically real time !!

  11. Mike, yes we were looking at Testing the Fire HD, but having read your findings, I think we’ll hold off for a while, it looks way too embroiled in Amazon network to make it a useable device. I provided the iPad comparison, with 11.5mins of data from startup. And took away any other noise from the traffic report that was deemed not necessary, hopefully for clarity.
    Great topic though.

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