Amazon's Kindle Fire HD or the Microsoft Surface RT?

Yesterday, Amazon announced new Kindle devices (opens in new tab) one of which may give Microsoft's Surface RT a bit of competition. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch is due to ship on November 20th and start at $299 and top out at $599 (64GB 4G LTE model).  The Surface RT is rumored to become available at the end of October and pricing is still a mystery.

The Kindle Fire HD will sport an 8.9" 1920 x 1200 touchscreen at 254 PPI (there's also a 7" model that starts at $199). The tablet is powered by a TI OMAP 4470 processor and Imagination SGX544 graphics engine. You have a few options to choose from with the Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch. There is the 16GB and 32GB models with Wifi as well as 32GB and 64GB models with 4G LTE.

The interesting thing with the 4G LTE models is that Amazon will offer a 250MB monthly data plans for $49.99 per year. You may not think that 250MB is a lot of data for a tablet but if you manage things carefully and use Wifi when possible, it might be just enough.

So how does this all impact the Microsoft Surface RT? For starters if you're wanting 4G connectivity, the Surface won't have that feature initially. The Surface will have a slightly larger screen at 10.6" but at a lower resolution (rumored to be 1280x720 139 PPI but could be as high as 1366×768--Microsoft has not confirmed). The Surface RT models have either 32GB or 64GB and will have the advantages of GPS and NFC.

The two devices are very similar and may take some of the wind out of the iPad dominance. Amazon is a respectable company that is putting a lot of support and effort behind the Kindle line. For those not familiar, think of how Nokia is promoting the Lumia Windows Phone line with exclusive content and you'll come close to the efforts Amazon is putting behind the Kindle.  On the other side of the coin, Microsoft isn't a slouch in promoting their products either.

Which is better? It may be a tougher call than you think and may come down to personal needs and budget.  I can see the Kindle Fire HD being very attractive if the Surface RT comes in at $500.  If we see the Surface RT start at $199 then the decision could get a little more difficult.

Given the choice, which would you choose? Or is this more an apples/oranges comparison?

George Ponder

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

  • Surface Pro for sure.
  • This article is not talking about Pro!
  • Whoever put that chart together did a really bad job. The Surface RT is 1366x768 just like all other Windows RT tablets and Atom tablets.
    "The Surface will have a slightly larger screen at 10.6" but at a lower resolution (1280x720 139 PPI)."
    Wrong. 1280x720 would mean no side by side multitasking was possible on Surface. The standard low-end resolution for Windows 8 and Windows RT is 1366x768. I've done an exhaustive analysis on Windows tablets, trust me. Your choices for Windows tablets are 768p ARM or Atom tablets or 1080p Intel Core tablets.
  • Yeah, Surface RT is definitely 1366X768. WPCentral please fix.
  • I'm waiting for the Groupon tablet.
  • LOL
  • But it's in the poll. Surface Pro for me.
  • I was expecing a poll. 
    I am dissapoint. 
  • Give us a few minutes....
  • The resolution in the Surface is a bit dissapointing, but I'm still going to give it the edge because of the potential for more and greater apps. Ecosystems are fairly equal though. Plus you can always load your Kindle content onto the Surface. The Kindle does kill on price (for now) .
  • It's wrong. The resolution of the Surface is 1366 x 768.
  • The Surface RT resolution is off in the article. It will be 1366 x 768. That is the minimum resolution to multitask with 2 apps.
  • Android OS, no thank you. Surface RT/Pro for sure.
  • Kindle since it's the only one verified to actually exist.
  • What are you talking about? The Surface (both Pro and RT) are official and the Surface RT is launching almost a month before the Kindle Fire HD.
    Surface RT all the way.
  • I will stay with my kindle fire for the time being. I use it mostly for streaming Amazon video from my prime account. I'll probably replace my netbook with the surface when the time comes. Two different devices for two different needs.
  • I would expect a WP8 video app for the Amazon video library.  XBOX has one already so it's very likely to show up for RT/Pro
  • RT
  • RT all the way for me here.
  • Kindle is like an iPad... useless for working.
  • Yup! I need either the Surface Pro and anyone of the hybrid ultrabook like taichi.
  • Surface...
  • If the surface rt turns out to be $199, its a no brainer. I'd pick one up on day one
  • Guess you won't be getting one then. You can you expect for something more robust to cost the same as something less useful? Please use common since when comparing products besides cost
  • Surface. The keyboard cover should be mentioned? Does it not apply to RT?
  • I still do not understand why people question whether the keyboard will be included. (Please don't take this as a slam--ever since the day of Microsoft's announcement most media reports have questioned keyboard or not, so the keyboard question has continued to propagate.)   At the Surface announcement, Microsoft stated both versions would include a keyboard. It's also part of the specs.
  • Are u kidding me....u can't compare this 2...
  • Surface!
  • Would love to get the RT but the lack of wireless connectivity kills that for me =(.  Im always on the go and need to  access my accounts in my car or on a job site.  Does the pro have wireless 3g/LTE?
  • Isn't the pro something like a real pc with touchscreen.
    So I think you will be able to go online, while on the go?
    But 3g or lte or something else? - I don't know
  • I work on the road non stop with my laptop by simply tethering my phone. I happen to be on T-mo so don't pay any extra. The convenience is amazing.
  • Careful, that only lasts for up to 50 tethers before you're blocked from tethering and have to add the extra plan. Happened with mine and both my daughters HTC Radars.
  • Tether with your phone or get a USB based data plan
  • Tether it to your WP for less than the price of another data plan I can just upgrade my data plan to 5GB w/ tethering and since I always have my phone on me it shouldn't be a problem. I have 3GB plan and only use about 1GB a month on average so that's a no brained.
  • Im sure they will have more than WiFi; why do you thing ATT & VZW have change there data share plans
  • Surface for me. The more I think about it, the more I realize I don't need a tablet and/or laptop, so WP8 and Kindle Whitepaper is good enough :D
  • Simple. 100% Surface RT.
  • It will all depend on the RT price.  If it's over $500 then I might just have to go with one of the Fires.  And Amazon's ecosystem is already there.   RT, not being backward compatible with Window Phone apps, has nothing.  Big mistake, in my opinion.  People are going to be asking if the Windows 8 apps work on the phone and PC and they will be greatly dissapointed when they find out they will have to buy the same app twice because they are not, unless they find out a way to include both versions for the price of one.   
  • Wait....isnt the rt compatible (or WP apps easily converts) to WP apps?...its not compatible, however, with normal windows apps...
  • Surface
  • Surface pro, nothing else matters. + the 920 = an expensive year for me.
  • Same plus add an RT too plus iPhone 5 :(
  • I have a Kindle Fire and it's utter junk. I'm selling it on Craigslist and buying a Surface. Still waiting to see the true specs on the Pro to decide if I want that or not.
  • Surface RT
    Integrates with contacts/calendars etc. without faffing about. Rest of my family can use it with their Microsoft accounts too. Has Kindle app. Mind you, I've never used a Kindle device before, so I'm fairly uninformed...
  • Unless the surface rt is ridiculously overpriced (which I doubt) its a no brainer because of the multitude of apps and games that will be available
  • This is such a dumb way to go about choosing a tablet. There will be literally hundreds of Windows tablets flooding the market causing the app store to explode with content. Kindle Fires and Blackberry playbooks are not even serious competitors. Also the Android apps were designed for tiny smartphones so they will look like total crap on a 1920x1200 9" screen. The Kindle Fire HD is for suckers. If you buy the low end Kindle Fire for anything other than some simple media consumption via Amazon Instant then you are setting yourself up for massive disappointment. You would have to be nuts to pay more than a couple hundred for a Kindle Fire. The Fire tablet is the kind of device you'll use for less than a year before realizing it was a silly impulse purchase.
  • Surface with Kindle app
  • NIce!
  • One word, "Surface".
  • Microsoft surfaaaaaceeeeesssss for sure.........
  • I'd get the surface pro, but the samsung series 7 slate, while not as nice, is still totally sufficient (after I put a 64 GB microSD card permanently in the slot to increase storage by 50%). Samsung does need to release some Win 8 drivers so the hardware buttons don't forget to work.
    In the short term, the Fire HD or iPad are the best because they have apps already. In a year, Win RT will have enough that the OS advantages will outweigh the more recently begun app catalogue. Ignoring apps, Win RT wins hands down.
  • It's all about ecosystem for me.  I'm going to have a Windows Phone and a Windows Desktop, and a Surface (or other Windows 8 tablet perhaps) just makes more sense.  I'd just like to see real apps showing up in the app store.  No more weather alarm clocks, please; I think we have enough of those.
  • Um.....the two devices aren't even in the same league with each other unless you're solely asking on price. In which case it would be like would you rather buy a HD tv made by Facebook or one made by Sony.
  • Lets all think about this Amazon device for a second. Amazon has figured out a way to sell a device that sells there products and make you love it. What's next, a Walmart tablet.... There is no way you can even compair the Surface with this unless selling device. The sheeples will buy this and after a month or so will realize that they just flushed their money down the toilet.
  • Tough to answer until we see what other vendors have to offer.  We have two Kindle Fire tablets currently and they are great.  But honestly, the small amount of storage was a big issue for me.  The only thing I used it for was watching videos while on a plane.  I need storage space to do that.  I couldn't stream.  Beyond that, I hardly used it.  My wife would read Kindle books and watch Amazon Prime and Netflix on hers.  She didn't care about storage space.  I would love a Surface RT and a Surface Pro but I am really interested in what other vendors will have and what the prices will be.  But I will never buy an iPad, and I can't see buying a Kindle Fire unless Win/RT Win/8 tablets just totally flop.
  • It really may come down to price. Ever since Samsung came out with a 8.9" tablet, I found my sweet spot. And for what I would use it for, the Kindle would suit my needs. The ONLY thing that may sway me is the fact that I'm in the windows ecosystem with the phone and PC and would want to complete the circle. Now if only Microsoft would work with B&N to bring out a Nook running either W8 or a variation of WP8, then my choice would be easy.
  • Surface pro baby
  • If price is no consideration, surface RT, just because I'm all Microsoft ecosystem and it's actualy finally coming all together.  Hopefully this Amazon stuff will get the price down on the RT.  Apple's prices are laughable now.  I think these price cuts will wake them up.  They can no longer rely on inept competition.  It's all good for the consumer.
  • Surface. Kindle is a toy.
  • A $199 Surface RT is hard to argue with. Kindle can't bring MS Office to the table like the Surface can.
  • Surface
  • No contest. Windows
  • Surface for sure. No Androids in my house thanks for asking!
  • surface pro or a transforming ultrabook with win8 for sure. I already have an ipad that just sits there collecting dust usually, since all i use it for is music and games. I need something for productivity!
  • Surface RT all the way!!!! Can't wait October can't come soon enough.
  • Surface all the way but it is like apples and oranges, why compare the Lumia 900 to the HTC One X... Same idea I believe
  • Honestly, it depends on the price. Amazon Is really killing it when it comes to bang for the buck. But, Android is NOT as smooth as 8. But at that price .... It depends. As to 4g, forget it. My L900 can hot spot anytime I need 4g.
  • I am going to buy the Kindle Fire HD 7" now. I will buy a Surface RT when available and a Pro. The Kindle because I am already invested in the Amazon ecosystem. There are certain features on the Kindle that are not available in the apps. I will buy the Surface RT for my wife when she travels. The pro version I hope to have as a desktop replacement - they better have a dock with dvi out, ethernet, mouse and keyboard. Otherwise I will be looking at another vendor. I know someone will have it.
  • This is a dumb question... Why would anybody who is smart get a kindle or a Microsoft product. Even so, I still, to this very day, scuff and laugh when I see someone carrying around a kindle... To me they are like large BlackBerry's... No offense rim...
  • since most of us own a's natural to own a Surface too. For me Surface Pro all the way.
  • NFC on the Surface is it confirmed?
  • It's stated that all Windows 8 talbet MUST have NFC. Even the surface
  • IPad mini
  • When the W8 tabs come out the android sales will dry up. Especially if the Surface rt is 299.
  • Surface all the way.
  • Definitely a windows 8 RT, though I'm keeping my options open, I was really hoping for a 1080p RT tablet. Perhaps arm processors just don't have the graphical power for 1080p on windows. If someone can get a pro model down under 800 grams with 1080p I'd go for that.
  • Kindle fire is looking better right now, because we know more about it. And, it looks like a decent bit of kit.
  • Thats like comparing a Prius to a Bugatti Veyron, totally different league of devices. 
  • Kindle Fire HD ^_^ (still love my glossy white Lumia 900 though!)
  • All the Amazon Prime subscription benefits for less than what a Zune Pass subscription costs a year, a CPU with higher performance than Tegra 3, higher resolution than surface and the Amazon consumer ecosystem for a very nice price (Hopefully the surface comes at a good price too), but while I will probably get the Surface, I do think most consumers could be very happy with the Fire HD out of the box at any of its two sizes IMHO.
  • Until the RT tablets are anything other than vaporware it is purely speculation.  Once the Surface RT and other RT talbets are out with full specs (Screen Res, COST, expandablitity) it is really hard compare products (the Kindle products exist with a known price and a release date).  Even the Windows RT tablets that have been announced (IFA in Europe) still do not have price or full specs released yet and we don't know what Apple has in store yet.  I, for one, will not buy any of the Kindles if I can't turn off the ads - I don't put up with it in my apps (except for a short trial to see if it's usable for me) and I won't put up with it on any tablet (currently only sporting my Nexus 7 -which is a nice tablet).
  • These tablets are now turning into loss leaders in order to get market share and sell content. I just hope MS can compete on price. The problem is they are charging OEM's somewhere between a  $50-85 licensing fee. Really they need to license it for free, afterall they will get income from app store purchases. 
  • I'm getting both, since I liked the kindle fire and I like the way the surface looks, so Amazon Amazon and Microsoft take my money.
  • Only one amazon should appear, crazy auto correct, LOL
  • Neither!
     I'm waiting on a nokia tablet with Qi.
  • I had a Kindle Fire and like many said, it's biggest trait is consuming Amazon content. Other than that, it's useless. Even with a Dual core processor, my single 1GHZ wp7 beat it's "silky smooth" web browsing. I've seen videos of the new HD one and it lags. But I will get a WP8, so I honestly don't see a reason to own one. If I were to get one, it would definitely be an RT. If not, it'll be Paperwhite and WP8 For me :-). Oh yeah, for those that don't know, ALL THE NEW FIRES COME WITH ADS or "SPECIAL OFFERS AND SPONSORED SCREENSAVERS" as Amazon calls it.
  • This is not a direct competitor for Surface, even the RT version. Productivity-wise, Kindle is written off straight out of the gate. If you own a Surface, Kindle would be a redundancy. If the Surface RT comes out with lower price tag than Kindle, then it becomes a no-brainer.
  • Nexus 7 or maybe an iPad mini
  • Surface. Can do pretty much everything the kindle can do plus so much more
  • Amazon = content provider. Microsoft = creation content. There not really in the same space. As far as i see Microsoft have no conten providing, that if you dont not live in U.S, then you have maybe 70% of a full content experience. A note to be taken, fun as it may seem to be for americans to poke Canada, EU, Australia etc for not getting as much software, it will only leave 1 market for Windows Phone and Windows 8, and the rest of the world end up buying Apple products and in a marathon, you will end up loosing.
  • I'm still going w/ Surface RT. I already have an HP Envy 173D and a Vaio CS26G, and I'm going to upgrade them to Win8 Pro. Why Surface? I like it more for its integration w/ the rest of MS products. I will be buying the Lumia 920 + Surface RT + 2 Win8 Pro. And if there's a new Xbox already, I would have been getting that too. They're separate products, but they form an eco, they would be able to integrate w/ each other deeply that the sum of it would be even greater than its parts. All those companion apps type would really provide more. But that's just me. :)
  • don't be ridiculous, it's not even a choice... who would want a tablet with android?
  • RT all day. I know these will be better than the last kindle fires, bit early reports show even the new ones are laggy. And I never liked the last one
  • I mean I want a pro for sure, but that depends on price and how the Intel chips work in a tablet
  • So does the Kindle have Office built in? And if you are doing a price comparison, lets try to match specs. If the 16GB Kindle is $299, what is the 32GB model, $349. That would be a good price for the Surface RT 32GB. With a larger screen, keyboard cover, choice of colors, Office, a bunch of other stuff, and most importantly, it's not running Android.
  • I need precision stylus support for doing mockups and artwork so it will be some sort of pro model. Surface Pro looks really nice but also very interested in what Lenovo produces. Or I may just stick with the Samsung Series 7 Slate, which to be honest is doing everything I need. Wish it was a bit lighter but overall I rather love it!
  • Surface!! In the end, im sure it'll be more flexible and usable than a kindle which has always been a pretend computer to me
  • Surface RT for me.  I just can't take the Kindle all that seriously.
  • Tough call.
    If it was to replace our laptop, probably the Surface Pro. My wife got a Kindle Fire as a graduation gift (from someone else) this year, and despite my initial disgust with the little turkey, it's an alright device.
    We have Amazon Prime so between those videos, Netflix, and the Kindle functions (including Kindle Lending Library) it's a nice little consumption device.
  • Windows RT Tablet for me (Preferrably the Surface RT) for consumption on the go.
    I'll be keeping my heavy duty  laptop (17" XPS for the hard stuff and Games) and the Xbox connected to the TV for 'play to' fun, Xbox Movies and Music and of course some games.
    Of course there will be a Windows Phone 8 added to that as well when I can (Lumia 920)
    I'm in Australia. so there's no Kindle Fire or Amazon ecosystem (or even Netflix)  for us.
  • Surface Pro!
  • Surface RT for me. My wife has the Kindle Fire and personally I think its garbage. It is for the simple users that need a simple UI and a basic marketplace with limited apps.
  • Haha I'm getting both RT and Pro because I just can't wait that long for pro to come out I just want to show off my new tablet !!!!!!!