I have to give Amazon one special compliment: the email client on this device is wonderful. It works in real time with Hotmail, meaning that I don't have to recreate all my folders; I can access them exactly the same way I do at a computer on the web. Of course, I can work with emails offline, too.
Another handy surprise was the syncing of contacts and calendars with Hotmail (I use two accounts, and the Kindle lets me sync them as I choose). Very nice!
It won't do everything a full-featured tablet like the iPad can do, that's true. And the selection of apps in in Amazon's limited store is tiny compared to the greater Android market and Apple's App Store. But for $199, the Fire HD is definitely worthy of your first entry into the tablet world. It's a hit with the kids, too!