Hitting in the top 10, Good Gifts For Guys from Amazon is the Kindle Fire HDX 7″ it is perfect for work or play, with the fastest processor on a 7″ tablet, the latest graphics engine, world-class Dolby audio, and a highly portable form factor. Exclusive HDX display has perfect color accuracy (100% sRGB) and over 2 million pixels for vivid, lifelike images that go beyond HD. Live on-device expert tech support is just a tap away with the new “Mayday” button – it’s available 24×7, 365 days a year, and it’s free. The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7″ makes a perfect gift with all its great features and don’t forget the special offers, it is definitely one of the good gifts for guys that he will want to see underneath that tree.
Kindle Fire HDX 7 Review
Buying things is not only easy but fast, because the HDX is by far the fastest and most powerful Kindle Fire model ever. Amazon’s always been obsessed with its tablets’ spec sheets, and here there’s good reason. The HDX has a 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, along with 2GB of RAM and a new Adreno 330 GPU that Amazon says is four times as powerful as the last model. It’s likely due to some combination of refined software and powerful hardware, but the HDX screams: the carousel is smoother than ever as you swipe through it, apps open and resume almost instantly, and even games as complex as Asphalt 8 play flawlessly. It’s one of the most capable, functional tablets I’ve used. It has great battery life, too, taking nearly two days full of streaming, game-playing, and reading before giving up; most people will probably only need to charge it every four or five days….More at Amazon Kindle Fire HDX review (7-inch) | The Verge
For those who are looking at getting the best tablet out there at the moment, this is the one you should be looking at.
My profile: Heavy tablet users for personal and business purposes. I work on my tablet around 4-5 hours a day (Email / Documents / Spreadsheet / PDF ) and use it 1-2 hours for personal use such as watching movies or reading books/magazine. Tablet is my go-to device for all internet related search I do.
I have the following and/or used the following before:
1) iPad 1
2) iPad 2
3) iPad 4
4) iPad Mini
5) Kindle Fire
6) Kindle Fire HD
7) Kindle Fire HD 8.9
8) Asus Transformer with Keyboard
9) Nexus 7 First Gen
10) iPad Air 16gb Wifi
As you can see, I been through many devices and hope this review with my experience helps users decide if this is the right device for them. This will be an ongoing review for this device throughout this next year. For comparison sake, I will use last year’s Kindle and iPad mini as they are the closest size to this HDX 7″
This is leaps and bounds faster than last year Kindle HD. Last year Kindle struggles to go through any HD video content I put in. This year’s HDX able to play seamlessly all the HD 1080p contents I added. It is incredible how much the 2.2Ghz quad processor improved vs last year’s model Dual 1.2Ghz.
This is the biggest improvement over last year’s model. The screen is in true HD 1080p (1920×1080). This means any HD content I throw at it will view in its intended resolution. The screen is crystal clear (much better than iPad mini) and the viewing angle is incredible. I have this Kindle hanged in the middle of the car and at any seat it is view very clearly. Last year’s model was not as clear as this. This is excellent for my minivan with my kids watching all the HD movies. The brightness of the screen is also much brighter than last year’s model
The sound system in this Kindle Fire HDX is using Dolby Digital Plus with virtual 5.1 surround sound. That gives this device a much better surround sound then previous generation’s.
This HDX is more “angular” than last year’s device. It’s slightly rougher to hold in the corners than last year’s model due to sharper edges though I doubt any users will hold their tablet by their corners. The device is noticeable lighter (395g for Kindle Fire HD vs 303g for Kindle Fire HDX). This mean you can hold this for longer time without fatigue.
The power and volume button placement on this Kindle Fire HDX is interesting. It is behind the device which allows it to hide away from front view. However, this can cause user to accidentally hit the on/off button or the volume button when not being careful. Aesthetically it is great but it is definitely not a practical solution when you are trying to use this on the go.
It does look sturdy enough to survive minor drop but I highly recommend getting a case for it. Those sharp corners seems more prone to dents than round corners for last year’s model.
This is probably the biggest drawback for this device. The battery life is not as good as last year’s model. This is quite logical as last year’s HD has a 4400mAh battery while running 720p while this HDX runs Full HD 1080p but runs only on a 4500mAh battery (only 100mAh more than last year). The 1080p screen pulls a lot of power vs last year’s model when the screen is on, especially when running HD videos. I’m able to achieve 5 hours of heavy use compare to 7 hours for last year’s Kindle Fire HD at medium brightness with Wi-fi on all the time. I tend to bring around an external battery pack but prefer something that is integrated (like a battery case)
Software & software compatibility (8/10):
The amount of app is still lacking compare to App store or Play store but has been steadily increasing which is a great sign. Games and software boot time has increased noticeably and compatibility is not an issue
Silk browser has definitely improved compare to last year’s tablet with multiple tabs actually now usable on the HDX. For last year’s version, it is practically unusable after 2 tabs due to the lack of hardware resource on the tablet (especially when the website is not optimized for mobile use). The HDX has no problem going through any webpages I throw at it.
Hopefully more apps will be optimized to use quad core soon. I’m guessing some of these apps are only optimized for last year’s dual core.
I haven’t got the opportunity to use Mayday yet but will review about it once I get more update on this.
Complimentary Accessories (3/10):
For all smart devices, one of the most important time is the number of accessories available. At launch, it is understandable the lack of accessories but productivity focus accessories such as integrated case/keyboard are missing at launch. This is rather disappointing as it can be a powerful productivity device with the right accessories attached. Also the lack of case selection is quite astonishing for a flagship product on Amazon. Hope there will be more cases such as battery case (due to above battery problem) or rugged case come out soon.
I got the special offer model at 16Gb (lowest end model) and it is enough for me to use. The special offer ads are not intrusive like last year’s model and sometimes does reveal some items I want. Compare to the ipad mini, this is practically a steal. For those with the Nexus 7, it is quite comparable in price.
Conclusion in one sentence: Amazon’s iPad mini killer (8.5/10)
For people who are justifying if this is a good upgrade, I say YES to that. The speed and screen difference alone is worth the upgrade. The whole user experience just improve drastically with the HDX.
It use to be, for Kindle Fire HD, you will trade low price for slow performance, stutter and lag. It honestly makes you think twice if the price is really worth all that poor experience.
For HDX, this is no longer the case. You get both great price, great screen and great performance that surpasses iPad mini. To me, the HDX is seriously Amazon’s iPad killer. It really marks how well Amazon has done to make themselves a worthy competitor in the tablet market. I hope some software upgrade or battery pack can make this the ultimate road warrior!
****************************Dec 23th 2013 – 2 months update *********************************
So I have been using between this HDX 7″ and the 8.9″ HDX. I also been using an iPad Air 16Gb Wifi and here are some updates, particular on the negative points mentioned previously.
App Store – not so refined still. Downloading and Installing problem occurs
The app store after 2 month is still a bit lacking. There are some freebie deals during cyber monday which I jumped (who doesn’t like free stuff?)but still nothing that either the Apple App store or Google Play don’t have. Amazon App store really needs some exclusive apps to become a “must get” device.
Now comes the bad part – I tried to download Magic 2014 game (big fan of Magic the Gathering since teen) from the Amazon App Store and the HDX 7″ downloads this rather slowly. In fact, I noticed that when it reaches 50% it drops back down to 30% and redownloads the package again! Since I’m not in a rush I really have no issue with this re-download problem. However, this can be problem to some people who have limited bandwidth per month and won’t appreciate redownloading the same thing again 2 times (or more but I didn’t catch that).
Once it reaches 100%, the app store attempts to install the software. It goes into “Installing…” state for a while (at least couple hours). Knowing that there’s something weird going on, I rebooted the HDX 7″. Once I rebooted it, the software shows it was never downloaded!
Perhaps there’s some application specific problem with this game but this really shows a rather poor experience on the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX. I would expect a brand new top of the line Kindle Fire HDX would have ironed out simple bugs such as this but clearly, the Amazon App Store have 2 things it needs to work on:
1) If this is an application specific error, Amazon needs to proactively test this release on all their devices before allowing it on the Amazon App Store. It’s quite obvious if any Amazon App store guys have even tried to install this Magic 2014 game that it just won’t install. Literally half the reviews on the review complain about this
2) For these buggy release, Amazon should proactively pull this application from the store – the experience that lead to all the hours of download and wasted bandwidth got the user nothing in the end. I can imagine some users with capped bandwidth or using their cell data to download will be furious if they know an app less than 1Gb rack them couple Gb of download.
App Store is a big part of Amazon’s Kindle Fire ecosystem and poor experience such as this really deters client in continued use, especially when all Kindle Fire are locked down to Amazon software ecosystem. When you cannot even use the Amazon software ecosystem, any excellent hardware that this machine has becomes inaccessible and worse of all, a waste of user time to figure out.
Now most people may say this criticism is related to the game(in this case, Magic 2014). I believe this is not the case. The responsibility of Downloading and Installing of the Magic 2014 application belongs to the Amazon App Store (after all, it is Amazon App Store people who authorized this to be released in their store). I start to find all other game download and installation questionable and my own usage time in App store browsing and purchasing drops drastically.
From the above download experience, I did attempt to find some help from Amazon. Here is where the more problem arises.
Mayday – speaking to rep reading off outdated troubleshooting guides
After noticing my Magic 2014 download is gone, I attempted to contact Amazon through the Mayday button. It’s really my first time using this function so I don’t really have any prior experience in using it.
My Mayday call was picked up by Hayley (if I recall). You can see a big Amazon logo in the background beside the customer service rep and she looks pretty friendly. I explained my situation with the App store problem to Hayley but it seems she wasn’t able to help; therefore I got transfer to a “Tech Advisor”. This Tech Advisor can’t be shown in the video camera and asks for my credentials. She also made me explain the problem again which I explained to Hayley (I would have thought someone will note down my problem as I need to use couple mins to explain again). She then pulls something that you expect from an Indian Call Center by asking me to disconnect my internet modem. I find this rather funny as I mentioned this is a software specific problem with the installation and has nothing to do with my modem or Internet connection. I also mentioned that I am running a server at home and pulling the modem disconnects it from the Internet which breaks other services I am running unintentionally. She seems to be stuck so she forward me to another representative (which if I heard correctly, it is the app store support rep).
Once I got connected to the 3rd rep, they ask me to check my tablet date and time (which is correct). This rep later ask me to press on options that are not the screen. I suspected this rep was reading off an old Fire OS troubleshooting guide as I recently updated the Fire OS system and that some options and buttons are changed. Given the large amount of time spent and there’s no resolution, I went to my iPad air and downloaded the game successfully in couple mins while still have Amazon on the Mayday call. I informed the 3rd tech support of this and thank them for their time although there was no resolution in the end.
I very much prefer having the game on my Kindle HDX as the 7″ is perfect to bring outside for quick game or two, but the amount of time spent on troubleshooting and resource wasted on this is honestly not worth my time. I ended up having to play this game on the iPad Air larger screen but also paid for in app purchase because the game itself is very good.
It’s a good lesson to learn that the whole software user experience needs to be more streamline and fluid on the Kindle. Amazon has done successfully in the physical good purchasing section of the kindle fire (in fact I spent thousands of dollars more on Amazon.com using the kindle fire than on PC and very satisfy with the results) and that if it can bring the same experience to the software app store just like the physical store, Amazon will have a winner here. I use my machine extensively for magazine reading / internet browsing but when it comes to app download, I currently have my doubts if it will be another bandwidth hog and a waste of time.
Display – blue hue appears but not very apparent
Some people ask if the blue hue appears on the edge. I can notice this if I’m reading off a totally white page (like a ebook or magazine). However it is not very noticeable and that your eyes will ignore it eventually. After all, words or graphic don’t appear on the edges of the screen.
Battery life – Still needs work on
After the OS update, there seems to be a slight improvement with the battery life. However, still not enough for me to really go through the day without bringing an external battery charger pack along. At the moment, I am still looking for a 2 in 1 case + battery solution but it is not available. I hope this can be my daily driver but without the battery life, it may just be a brick by the afternoon.
Purchasing on Amazon.com – becomes addictive (Could be good or bad for some people!)
I realized my spending on Amazon went up considerable compare to last year thanks to this Kindle Fire HDX. I will be browsing it online and have these items saved on screen, constantly reminding me to get it. Amazon really done a good job at this and really met, if not, exceed their goal in getting users buying from kindle fire. With last year fire, the browsing experience on Amazon.com was not nearly as fluid as this year’s HDX. This makes it hard to keep my attention and urge to buy. For people who wants a good purchasing experience, this Kindle Fire HDX will surely provide that. For ones who need to save money, you may want to get your finger off the buy button!
My overall rating stays the same as Amazon keeps knocking off prices for these machines making it still the best bang for the buck.
Apr 28 Update – Family Use
Got my kids an extra Kindle Fire HDX 7″ for them to play with. My HDX 7″ is still running well with all my Instant Video and newsstand subscription inside.
Since my kids don’t treat their new toys with much care, I went and got them and myself a zerolemon EVA Case on Amazon. The case is useful for prevent dents and major falls on your Kindle. Even with my Kindle, the top pantel where the speakers are started to peel off a bit (amazon used glue to assemble the speaker grille top panel). Case works great for hiding some of the blemishes of the kindle fire hdx 7″
Overall still satisfied with my machine and frankly been the best bang for the buck tablet i ever have.
As mentioned, I will update this review periodically. Next time I will focus on physical wear and tear of the machine after couple more months and again on battery life (as all electronics have a diminishing battery duration throughout its course of use). [...] Thanks for reading!
Update: Some users are reporting a bluish glow around the edges of the screen for the HDX. If you search on YouTube for HDX Blue Haze, you can find a video showing the issue. Amazon has updated their “Learn More” link with the following info:
“To achieve the perfect color accuracy on Kindle Fire HDX 7″ at the lowest possible battery consumption and device weight, we used blue, not white, LEDs. Blue LEDs allow for a much more accurate and rich representation of color and result in an up to 20% improvement in power efficiency.”
“As a result of using these blue LEDs, you may notice a very narrow, faint blue tint around the edge of the device when looking at items with a white background, such as books or web pages. All displays have some level of light emission around the edges, and the light on the Kindle Fire HDX 7″ is blue due to the technology used to render perfect color accuracy.”
If this is something that you think would bother you, I’d recommend taking a look at the YouTube video or taking a look at the HDX at a local Best Buy or office superstore. I’ve also uploaded a user image here of my HDX with a book loaded so that you can see the blue glow (http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/B00DOPNO4M/).
The Amazon tablets are primarily content consumption devices, best suited for connecting to the Amazon ecosystem, including videos, music, books, apps, and so on. With the free Prime trial subscription, you can check out the Prime Instant Video options and watch movies and shows at no charge for 30 days. For videos, music, and books, the Amazon selection is at or near the top of the list; for apps, much less so. 90% of the top 100 apps are available on Amazon.com, as well as 100,000 others, but that’s only a small fraction of what is available with Google or Apple.
It’s not quite as bad as it sounds because, while the competition has ten times as many apps, most of those apps are, um … how shall I put this … less than stellar (look up Sturgeon’s Law). If there are specific apps you need or want, you definitely should double-check before purchasing to make sure that they are available. The apps that will likely never become available on the Kindle Fire ecosystem are those apps that require Google services (i.e., anything that uses Google location services). One ameloriating factor is that it is possible to side-load most of the apps from the Google Play store onto an Amazon tablet and a web search on side-loading apps onto Kindle Fire will show dozens of websites with detailed instructions. If the app you are sideloading requires a Google service to work, though, it will not run on the Fire, even if you manage to successfully install it.
Like the other Kindle Fire tablets, as well as the Apple iPad and the Google Nexus, the Kindle tablet line doesn’t have a micro-SD slot, so the assumption is that you’re consuming content from the cloud. This is fine when you’re using your tablet with wifi; not so good when you’re traveling and want to load up your tablet with content for the trip. If the latter is something you expect to do regularly, you might want to consider the 32GB or 64GB versions, or pay the additional price for the 4G version, which is available on the 7″ tablet for the first time. Also, if all of your content is on iTunes or on Google Play, you would have to side-load everything onto the tablet. As is true of Apple and Google tablets, there’s no way to automatically connect to the cloud storage of the competition.
Something new this year is the ability to download Prime Instant Videos. I verified that I can download Prime Instant Videos to my Kindle Fire HDX. However, that option is not available for all movies and TV shows. It looks like they had to get the permission of the studios and not all of them said yes. So, for example, I was able to download “Casablanca” but not able to download “The Avengers” even though both are part of the Prime Instant Video collection and both are available for free streaming.
Update: Adding a bit from a reply in the comments: Amazon is clearly looking at the Enterprise market with this launch, at least based on the details they provide. They’ve added full accessibility support (required in order to get government contracts), will be bringing support for VPN and business printing, have a better email client with tighter integration to Exchange, and are including OfficeSuite for productivity. There are other productivity tools available in their app store, as well, although both Google and Apple, particularly the latter, have more options. When VPN support arrives, I’ll definitely be taking a look, as it would be nice to not have to lug my laptop home every night.
So how does this Kindle Fire HDX differ from the previous generation Kindle Fire HD?
Display: 1920×1200 (323 ppi) vs 1280×800 (216 ppi). It’s more than that, though, as the colors are richer, brighter, with better contrast. This display has been judged by many reviewers as the best in its class and I would have to agree. Amazon has also added technology to automatically adjust the contrast and brightness when viewing the tablet in bright sunlight. While there is definitely a noticeable improvement, this isn’t what you need for reading on the beach. For that, you’ll need an eInk reader like the Kindle Paperwhite.
Sound: As far as I can tell, the sound is about the same. This was already one of the best-sounding tablets on the market, with Dolby stereo output and enough power to actually make it possible to listen to music or video without requiring headphones.
Size and Weight: Noticeably lighter (10.7 oz vs. 13.9 oz) and noticeably smaller (7.3″ x 5.0″ x 0.35″ vs. 7.6″ x 5.4″ x 0.4″). This is a comfortable tablet to hold one-handed, even for long periods of time.
Processor: It’s a *lot* faster (2.2GHz quad-core, top-of-the-line CPU, compared to 1.2GHz dual-core). This tablet is amazingly fast and smooth, with the fastest processor in its class. Every game I’ve tried on it has run smoothly, with no hesitations, slowdowns, or glitches. Scrolling through content is amazingly smooth and fast now, without the hesitations and occasional slowdowns of the previous generations.
Build: A redesigned shell with power and volume control buttons that are easy to find! This is a solid build but the back of the shell is something of a fingerprint magnet. Since most of us will be buying a case to put the tablet in, that may not be an issue.
Camera: If there is a difference between last year’s camera and this year’s, I’m not able to see it. It’s a high-def camera suitable for video-conferencing or Skype. Like last year’s model, there is no rear camera. If this is important to you, you’ll need the 8.9″ version.
HDMI Output: This is the one area where last year’s model wins. Amazon has removed the HDMI out connector from its tablet line (but see the description above for details on how Amazon is providing a software solution for sharing your tablet screen on your television). No other tablet that I’m aware of has this functionality so if this is something you need, you should be able to purchase one of last year’s models fairly cheaply.
Battery Life: The same, at 11 hours. However, Amazon has added a special “reading mode” to the device, which they claim will extend the battery life to as much as 17 hours. I did not test this. For my own personal use, the battery life is adequate.
Price: It’s more expensive ($229 vs. $199) but this year they include a power adapter, which was a $20 extra last year, so the actual difference in price is $10. For what you’re getting, that price increase is definitely justified.
It has an updated OS and updated feature software (including the free unlimited Mayday customer support feature). The software updates include the ability to download some Prime Instant Videos to your device and watch them offline, enhanced accessibility, enhanced enterprise controls and features (so now it’s better suited for office work), enhanced email client, enhanced parental controls, improved X-Ray features (now including lyrics for music, as well as additional information for both books and movies), integration with GoodReads (coming soon), and the like.
Where I noticed the biggest difference was the home screen. The default view is still the carousel but if you swipe upward, you’ll see a more traditional icon view. The “Recommended for you” display on the home screen is now smaller and much less obtrusive (and it can be turned off in the settings). Amazon has also added multi-tasking of a sort, where swiping up from the bottom of the screen while you’re in an app shows you the 20 most-recently-used items from your home screen, so you can quickly switch from one app to another without returning to the home screen.
There is also a left panel available on most screens (but not the home screen) and in some of the apps, with navigation links and settings to make it easier to navigate and control your tablet or to navigate within the app. If you tap the center of your display and then swipe left while you’re reading a book, for example, you’ll see a panel that shows you the table of contents, the About the Author link, the Sync to Furthest Page Read link, and so on.
The Kindle FreeTime option and the parental controls are still among the best in the business. If you want a tablet for a child and want to control what they can access, how long they can use the tablet at any given time, and the like, Amazon has you covered.
You can now also schedule “Quiet Time” on the tablet, where notification sounds and pop-up notifications are disabled, either on a temporary basis by simply pushing a button or on a scheduled basis. Frankly, I doubt I’ll ever use this feature but if you’re the type who likes to read or watch video until you fall asleep, it’s kind of nice to be able to disable all sounds so that you don’t get rudely awakened when, e.g., someone plays a new word in your Words with Friends game.
Mayday: This is a huge gamble by Amazon and it will be interesting to see whether it pays off. This isn’t a feature for a techie like me and I didn’t use it (although I was sorely tempted). From the commercials, it’s pretty amazing, particularly that you can get a live chat in a matter of a minute or less (Amazon’s goal is something like 15 seconds, I believe, although I can’t help wondering what will happen on Christmas Day!). If you’re thinking of getting a tablet for a technophobe, the addition of this feature may make the Kindle Fire HDX your best choice.
How does this tablet rank against the competition? There are really only two other tablets in its class currently: the Google Nexus 7 and the just-announced Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display.
Display: All three devices have retina displays, with the 7″ HDX and the Nexus at 1920×1200 (323 ppi) and the 8″ iPad Mini at 2048×1536 (326 ppi). All three displays are stunning. Amazon claims that it has enhanced the ability to read the display in bright sunlight, something that’s a problem for all such devices. While this wouldn’t be my first choice to read by the pool (I’d pick the Paperwhite), I can testify that it is easier to view the display in bright sunlight than its predecessors.
It’s worth noting that the aspect ratio of the HDX and Nexus is 16:10 while the aspect ratio of the iPad Mini is 4:3. Where this matters is watching video. If you’re watching an old television show, a 4:3 aspect ratio is fine. If you’re watching a high-def movie, the 4:3 aspect ratio is going to leave large black bars on your screen and the video will be much more compressed than it would be on the HDX and Nexus. Apple chose to maintain backward compatibility with prior devices rather than moving up.
Sound: The HDX has Dolby Digital Surround Sound; the Nexus has Frauenhofer Surround Sound; the iPad Mini has stereo sound. The iPad Mini also makes the same mistake that Amazon made in its first-generation tablet: putting both speakers on the same side (in this case, at the bottom of the tablet). If you’re watching a video, you’ll have the tablet turned sideways and the sound will all come from the same side. The HDX, in contrast, has the speakers placed perfectly for video watching.
Networking: The HDX and the iPad Mini both have dual band, dual antenna (MIMO) Wi-Fi. The Nexus is dual band but not dual antenna. All things being equal, I would expect the Nexus to lag a bit behind the others in networking performance, particularly in areas where the connection is spotty.
Size and Weight:
HDX: 7.3″ x 5.0″ x 0.35″ and 10.7 oz.
Nexus: 7.9″ x 4.5″ x 0.34″ and 10.24 oz.
iPad Mini: 7.87″ x 5.3″ x 0.29″ and 11.68 oz.
There’s really nothing to choose from here. All three are small, thin, and light. The iPad Mini is the heaviest but it also has a slightly larger screen.
HDX: 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB memory
Nexus: 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, 2GB memory
iPad Mini: 64-bit dual-core A7, 1GB memory
The HDX and iPad come out ahead of the Nexus on processing power while the HDX and Nexus come out ahead of the iPad Mini on memory. The A7 is only a dual-core processor but according to some tech sites that have run benchmarks, it definitely holds its own against the quad-core Snapdragon. These are all pretty powerful tablets.
Cameras: Both the Nexus and the iPad Mini have 1.2 MP front and 5MP rear cameras. The HDX only has a front-facing camera. If you expect to take pictures with your tablet, the HDX isn’t for you.
Battery Life: HDX = 11 hours (17 hours when reading); Nexus = 9 hours; iPad Mini = 10 hours. Amazon wins this one, particularly if you will be spending a lot of time reading.
Expansion: None of them have a microSD slot; they all assume that you’ll be using their respective cloud systems.
Parental Controls: All of them have the basic parental controls that allow you to limit your child’s access to content, purchases, the web, and so on. Amazon goes farther, though, with the Kindle Free Time and Kindle Free Time Unlimited options, the latter of which is an inexpensive subscription to a curated library of content. If you are buying a first tablet for a child, I’d choose the Kindle Fire HD. At only $139, it is significantly cheaper and it has all of the options that the HDX has.
Enterprise: As soon as Amazon releases its update, it will add VPN and network printing support. I believe all of the tablets have basic enterprise capabilities, including that support and various office apps. For real productivity, though, personally I’d go with a laptop, not a tablet.
Support: Amazon wins this category, hands down, with the new Mayday system. Apple comes in second, with Apple and Amazon usually taking top marks in any customer support survey. This is an area where Google does not shine.
Price: The HDX and Nexus win this one, hands down. Both are priced at $229 vs. $399 for the new iPad Mini. Neither Google nor Amazon makes much, if any, money on their tablets; they’re counting on you to purchase content from their respective stores.
From my own perspective, there is no single clear winner, as each tablet has strengths and weaknesses. If you already have Amazon Prime, the HDX is a no-brainer, with the access to the Prime Instant Video and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. If you’re primarily buying a tablet to read with, Amazon wins there, as well, with the 17-hour battery life while reading and the best display for reading outdoors. If you want apps, Apple and Google both have far more choices. If you want to watch movies, I’d pick either the HDX or the Nexus, as Apple’s aspect ratio and its lagging sound put it at the back of the pack. If price is a factor, then you should pick either the HDX or the Nexus.
If you’re heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, i.e., you already own an iPhone or iPad and all of your content is on iTunes, the HDX really isn’t the tablet for you. Similarly, if you love browsing Google Play for apps to play on your Samsung Galaxy phone, you’re likely to be disappointed in the section available on Amazon (although, as I note above, most of the Google Play apps can be sideloaded onto the tablet). If you love your Google Now or Siri, neither of which will ever be available on Amazon, this isn’t the tablet for you.
The bottom line: This tablet is primarily intended as a viewport into Amazon content and Amazon services. If you have Amazon Prime and you have Amazon eBooks in your collection, this tablet is a no-brainer. The price is low, particularly for what you get, and it’s a small, light, high-quality, high-powered, tablet with a stunning display and superb sound. This really is one of the top tablets in its class.
Note: As others have noted, the tablet will update its software when you first turn it on and connect to wifi. Unlike some others, I had no trouble with this operation, no glitches or crashes. It took several minutes but the process ran smoothly, as did the tablet when everything was done.
Now that I have a Kindle Fire HD and a Kindle Fire HDX tablet, I’m in a little better position to talk about which one I’d recommend:
You should get the Kindle Fire HDX if:
- You’re a techie who wants the latest and greatest, the best display, the fastest processor.
- You need a camera for Skype or other video app.
- You play graphics-intensive games (e.g., racing games).
- The size and weight matter to you, even in such small increments as this.
- You think you will need the Mayday technical support.
You should get the Kindle Fire HD if:
- Price is a factor. $90 cheaper is not an insignificant amount. This really is an excellent value for the money.
- You want an inexpensive tablet for a child (and, for this case, the lack of a camera might well be a plus)
- All you want is a basic tablet for reading books, playing music, watching the occasional video, playing Words with Friends, and the like. While the screen on the HD isn’t as stunning as is it on the HDX, this is still a true HD screen and it is very good.
I check back pretty regularly, so if you have a question, please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer it.
My review below compares a lot of the features of this version of the Fire HDX to the original Fire HD as well as this year’s model of the Fire HD, but also some of the features for a first-time user.
Consistent with my experience with setup of this year’s model of the Kindle Fire HD, setup took a long time: despite being a brand new product, the Fire HDX attempted to download and install several operating software updates. Software updates on a Kindle are usually in the background, and it was annoying watching the crashes and manual reboots. Consistent with the Fire HD, it crashed during setup, playing a song, watching a TV show, and reading a book. It took a little over an hour to get this thing up and running without consistent crashes but after the final software update it has worked as expected without further issues.
Screen Display / Video Playback:
This version of the Fire has the absolute best screen display of any Fire model to date. Looking at the technical specs Amazon made some major changes in the display / resolution, and the picture appears more crisp: I compared the viewing experience watching with my standard test of the Fire devices over the past couple of years – don’t laugh – the first episode of the Wonder Woman TV series from the 70′s. The display on this Fire was one heck of a lot better in terms of sharpness than last year’s model as well as this year’s model of the Fire HD. For you technical folks out there, the display is 1,920 x 1,200 with 50% more pixels per inch than the Fire HD.
The initial Wi-Fi setup took some time as it wouldn’t remember the password for my router after each software update / crash / reboot series. After the final operating software update I mentioned above, however, it was fairly easy to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi.
My standard test for trying out new gadgets is to see how fast they run side-by-side with a known piece of equipment doing the same test at the best place of Wi-Fi in my house and the worst place where it drags. In this comparison, I had this HDX version of the Fire sitting next to last year’s and this year’s version of the HD Fire, as well as last year’s 8.9″ HD Fire, Motorola RAZR smartphone, my iPad 2 (yes, the Kindle guy uses an iPad for work), and the first-generation 7″ Fire (the model from two years ago) all just using a Wi-Fi connection vs. cellular connectivity.
My “normal” website test is to hit the mobile websites of FoxNews, CNN, my personalized Yahoo page, Google, and the Houston Chronicle. The ones that were usually slow on the other devices were faster on the HDX (Houston Chronicle and CNN), and for the other sites I couldn’t tell a difference in speed at the location closest to my router. When I went to the slowest / worst reception location of my house, the speed did have a noticeable difference in the other devices as this one was a little bit faster than all but last year’s model of the 7″ Kindle Fire HD; yes, it was also faster than this year’s model of the Fire HD but I attribute the increase in speed to the dual antennas on the HDX.
Sound / Music Playback:
The two speakers are located in the back of the Kindle Fire in two not-noticeable ports: one on the top and one on the bottom. My test of this feature was cranking up Van Halen’s Panama to maximum volume (I always want to see if it could really play the guitar licks), and I would alternate covering one speaker up over the other: you have true stereo sound with no degradation of the sound that makes you think you are about to blow the speaker. The Dolby speakers sound nice and you do get to hear the bass. However, I am still of the opinion the speakers aren’t going to do very well being placed in the back as I am in the front: I want to be able to hear whatever I am listening to without really having to crank it up and disturbing someone else in the room (that’s what happens when you start losing your hearing like I am). While the cover for this version has not shipped yet – why aren’t the covers released at the same time? – I imagine the sound quality might decrease with a cover in the back over the speakers. The X-ray feature is pretty neat as it displays the lyrics on the screen if you are so inclined; if you are not, it is as simple as the tap of an icon to make the lyric feature go away.
Consistent with previous versions of the Fire, email setup was very easy for my main Gmail account, both with the software came with the Fire but my primary use of an existing app called Enhanced Email I purchased here in the Amazon app store. I did setup the email app that came with the program with no problem – it took about a minute to setup my main Google account – and I was able to send and receive emails as well as synch my online calendar via Google’s calendar and contacts. For those of you asking yourself why am I using the Enhanced Email program, the simple answer is like many of you I have more than one email account: you can quickly switch back and forth on the accounts with the tool. The lazy person in me appreciates that as I don’t like getting out of the lazy chair once I’m settled in!
New Tabs and Screen Layout:
In addition to the normal tabs Amazon has continued to make tweaks with the look and feel to the overall display such as more things to scroll through to find what you are looking for in an easier manner. Interestingly, and consistent with my experiences with this year’s model of the Fire HD, I purchased the one with special offers and the only ad I have seen so far is on the main screen saver vs. being overwhelmed with ads like last year’s model.
Turning pages is pretty darn easy – just tap the side of the screen to go to the next page or back a page, or you can swipe your finger across the screen to do the same. Amazon did add the feature to see the book’s description for books on your device like they have with the e-Ink Kindle (always an annoyance with last year’s model), which is a plus as I can’t remember what each book in my digital to-be-read pile is about; getting to the book description, requires several taps on the screen to eventually get to where you want to be. If there is an easier way to do it, I can’t find it and maybe I should be one of the first guys, ever, to crack open the electronic user’s manual to figure it out (doubt it). For those of you who have wondered, you still can’t organize your books into categories unless you purchase a third-party app here in the Amazon app store.
There is a Bluetooth connection, and I did my usual test of this feature by taking it out to my car and having the Fire stream music through my car stereo. There were no delays or skips with the connection, and it paired up in about a minute. Just make sure you give it a device name so you can recognize it and be recognized.
There is a camera on this model – it faces the front or toward the user / reader. Focusing and taking a picture is pretty easy, and Amazon will by default store your pictures in the Cloud – which counts against your storage allotment. I’d recommend turning that automatic storage feature off unless you are sure you want it, because if you go over the limit that will provide Amazon another opportunity to collect a monthly revenue stream from you.
Unlike previous models of the Fire, this one DOES include a charger! If you’re scratching your head with that comment, in previous models you had to purchase a charger separately for $20 which always seemed kind of silly for Amazon to do.
A new feature with this model, and not included on this year’s “regular” model of the Fire, is the introduction of the “Mayday” button. Basically, you can touch the button and a video screen will pop up and you can actually see – and talk to – a live customer service agent. I haven’t pressed the button yet to try it out, as I think I would feel pretty dumb: when they ask me how can they help, I don’t want to say “I just wanted to see if this works and just stopped by to say `hi’ for purposes of this review.”
What I Wish it Had: a case that was ready to go and shipped when the Fire was ready (why are we waiting). A case is very important in order to protect your investment. Also, I’m interested to see how they try to not hurt the speaker’s performance I mentioned above due to the speakers being in the back of the unit and hopefully not covered up with a case.
Overall, at $229 for the 16GB of memory model ($309 for 64 GB of memory) I think this is a good deal for someone who really uses the video / apps feature. Kids will love it as they can read books, play games, watch TV and movies, and a whole lot of other things. Adults should like it for the exact same reasons, but while I try to minimize the amount of work-related stuff I do at home with the business apps that are available here in the Amazon App store and other places around the Internet I can also work on Excel and Word-compatible files when I have to without having to fire up my work laptop or whatever the case may be. If you’ve never owned a tablet before, or are looking to upgrade from an earlier model Fire, I would recommend this one if video and apps are your thing – but make sure you purchase the higher memory one vs. the minimum 16 GB. If you’re comparing last year’s HD model to this version and it is operating fine, or looking for a tablet for your younger children, I’d say save your money and continue to get your money’s worth out of last year’s model or get this year’s model of the Kindle Fire HD at $139.
Manage All Applications
Scroll down and select Netflix
Select “Clear Cache” (Data will change to 12.00KB)
Select “Clear Data” (Window will pop up and ask Clear Application Data? Choose “Clear Data”)
Return to Kindle Home page (Little white house icon at lower right)
Open Netflix app
Sign back in to Netflix
Open a show or movie
It should work again with no error message
Latest **UPDATES** on 2 DEC 2013 (Download Prime Videos & Audio updated: Added new category – Apps)
I upgraded from the original Kindle Fire. If you already enjoy the Amazon ecosystem, crave responsively fast performance, love gorgeous high resolution screens, wish the Kindle Fire were noticeably lighter, all without sacrificing battery life, while being able to enjoy more benefits of Amazon Prime, plus many other great new features, then stop reading, save time, and hit the “Add To Cart” button and buy it.
I wanted the Amazon ecosystem. I am a Prime member. I also own a Nexus phone, the Sony Xperia Tablet Z, and a few other Android devices, besides the original Kindle Fire. I don’t mind that Kindle Fires don’t have Google Play. I have other devices for that. My wife has the iPad 4.
If this is going to be your only Android device, then the decision point is which do you prefer, the Google experience or Amazon experience? You can get most of the Amazon experience with a more conventional Android device. The overlap is not as great going the other way around. However, with the new Fire OS, you do get a few more Amazon exclusive experiences. Weigh your needs and wants to make the best choice.
**UPDATE 6 NOV 2013**
SERVICE: Amazon service applies directly to this device since it is their product. Amazon had a one day only FAA 15% off sale for some of the Kindles. I opened up the MayDay and asked the rep if they would honor the discount to those who had previously made the purchase. I was told it would only apply for those who had made the purchase within the last 7 days. That was not me. The MayDay rep didn’t really do anything wrong, but she just appeared as if she didn’t care and seemed a little annoyed at my request. Because the customer CAN see the MayDay rep, in my mind, it would be very important that person have a smile and warm demeanor. I’ve done tech support for a business I once owned, and a simple thing like this can make a huge difference in how a customer perceives a company.
I had also emailed Amazon, received a reply with a number, and gave that a call. The initial rep was kind enough to refer me to someone who could make that decision. The manager I spoke with made the decision to honor a partial refund, even though the 64GB model I had purchased was not one of the sale items. I didn’t get the full 15%, but it was about 12% discount. I thought this was more than fair and I appreciated the fact that Amazon allows their service managers the freedom to make these kind of decision.
I believe there were two factors in play. 1. My standing with Amazon as a shopper (not that they don’t care about all their customers, but it’s nice to be appreciated for being a loyal customer!) 2. I was still within my return window. I could have sent it back, bought the sale version and still come out ahead, in theory. It would have been a headache and extra cost for all involved, and this service manager was keen enough to save us all that headache. Even if I had to go that way, it’s still great service that I could return the device this long after the purchase, for any reason.
If I could make one request, it would be that there was a dedicated link within Amazon Shop for writing reviews. I find typing to be one of the more accurate experiences on the Fire HDX, much improved over original Fire, and would like to be able to write reviews straight from the new Fire HDX.
After about 1.5 months use, I have no buyer’s remorse. This is a great tablet and a great buy for Amazon fans.
The packaging, for those of you who care, was like looking at movie poster. It got you interested, excited and ready to open it up. Once the cover was opened, box unsealed, and then opened, the inside was simple and elegant. Inside is the Kindle Fire HDX, the 5 watt charger (not 9 watt), and a nice thick 5 foot long USB to micro-USB cord. That’s it.
Compared to the original Kindle Fire, the HDX 7″ is noticeably lighter and easier to hold. The angled edge harmoniously eases the hand into a comfortable holding position. This is great to hold! When holding landscape mode, the top, where the speakers are, is smooth glossy plastic. It attracts fingerprints but it actually adds to the grip. The Amazon logo that is recessed in the back is also this same gloss and also helps make the device less slippery to hold. Well done. Fortunately, those are the only places that are glossy plastic.
Turning on the device, Amazon already had associated the device with my account. The carousel was familiar. But swipe up and there was the typical icon view.
Overall, the device is snappy and responsive. No more lag. I love it! The screen is gorgeous. It rotates quickly from landscape to portrait. It’s the best rotating screen I’ve experienced on any Android device so far, and I’ve had my share of Android devices.
There are a myriad of new features to learn from the upgrade. So far, I like them – a lot. The Mojito OS does take some exploring to get fully adjusted. I’m still in that process after two hours of playing around.
APPS (Added 2 DEC 2013):
One of the biggest CONS people mention about the Kindle Fire line is the lack of Google Play, which primarily means limited app choices. This is true. There are apps I wish I could get on the Kindle Fire HDX. For some this may be a deal killer. For me, it is not.
Amazon has really gone above and beyond to make the lack of Google Play so much easier to take. Since I purchased the Kindle Fire HDX, it came with 500 Amazon coins. Within the Amazon Apps world, this translates to $5.00 to spend on any app. In the month plus I’ve been an owner, Amazon has offered a ton of free apps, good ones! In some cases, they offered a free app, plus more free coins. There seems to be no shortage of ways to get free coins. Even when I do spend the coins (and not my real money yet,) I’ve made a handful of purchases where I got more coins back, in one case, 250 coins just for making my first purchase using coins. Some of these deals equate to discounts of 30% or more.
My new Kindle Fire HDX is loaded with games and apps I’d likely not have purchased on my own. Between this give-a-way fest and their daily free apps, I have a lot of great choices for full paid apps. Not all the daily free apps are very good, but some are. It’s worth checking out, especially during this Thanksgiving/Christmas time period.
The Kindle Fire is meant for consumption and Amazon has done a great job making sure I can do just that without breaking the bank. Amazon makes up for its shortcoming in the apps department by being far more generous than Google is with their store.
With the current Cyber Monday sale, the Kindle Fire HDX is a steal! Let me reinforce that the Snapdragon 800 processor/Adreno 330 combo is one awesome setup! It makes apps like Minecraft, RipTide 2 and others look gorgeous and perform without hiccup. It’s no small deal that the top of the line hardware can be had for bargain hunter prices.
TURN IT ON:
The power button is on the left back side. It does take a moment to figure this out when being used to a button on the top or side has been the norm for so long. It’s not a big deal, but surprising after forgetting for the first time.
**UPDATE 6 NOV 2013**
I still find the button on back to be somewhat clumsy. Even though the other side has two recessed buttons for the volume, it doesn’t stand out enough for me. I’m still flipping the device back and forth at night with little or no light. Even in the day time or with light, I have to make a concerted effort to determine which way is up and remember that the power button is on the left. With my other devices, I just feel for the button and push.
DOWNLOAD PRIME VIDEOS:
This is the main reason I purchased the 64 GB WiFi version. First, I could take videos with me when I had no internet connection, such as in a car. Second, when my kids want to watch videos, I can download their favorites so they won’t be hogging the bandwidth at home!
How does this work? Go to the videos, choose the desired video and an option to download will be there. My first attempt to download a Prime video, I chose Downtown Abbey Season 3, Episode 1, which was 1:06 hours long. I was given three options: Standard Definition, 720P HD and 1080 HD. I selected the 1080P HD option first.
My internet is 10 Mb/s DSL download speeds. I made it to about 44% downloaded after about 50 minutes. Of course, I kept on checking out other features during the wait. While trying to start Flick Soccer, the device locked up on me. I was stuck. I held the power button for a good while and it rebooted.
The HDX then successfully upgraded the system, something that failed after my initial setup. Yes, an update already (for the Mayday button!) When I looked to see if the video was there, it was not. I had to start all over again. It didn’t save.
This time, I chose 720P HD. It took about 19 minutes to download. I was previously able to view the 1080P video while it was downloading. It looked awesome. The 720P HD looked just about as good. Some action scenes, I could tell it was lower quality, but not that noticeable. This 1:06 hour 720P HD video file consumed 1.24 GBs of space.
Next I tried the SD, or lowest quality option and downloaded Episode 2. This took 5 minutes and 44 seconds. The SD video file size for a 1:06 episode was 267MB. The video was a tad blurry, more choppy during action, and more noise, grain and artifacts. However, for standard definition, it was surprisingly passable. Download your young kid’s videos in SD and save some space. They won’t care, and even you may not.
Finally, I retried the 1080P video with Episode 3. This time, it took 44 minutes 38 seconds to successfully download. The quality, as mentioned before, was excellent. The colors were vibrant, the video sharp and fluid. It took up 2.07GBs of space.
Here is the rundown. About 1 hour video episode of Downtown Abbey. 10 Mb/s DSL download speed.
SD = 5:44 minutes to download. 267MB. Quite decent quality.
720P = 19:12 minutes to download. 1.24GB. Very good quality.
1080P = 44:38 minutes to download. 2.07 GB. Excellent quality.
For those who are new to the Amazon world, yes, you can download the Netflix app and watch those, too, minus the download for later option.
**UPDATE 23 OCT 2013**:
Yes, there are 3 quality settings for downloading Prime Videos. After digging around, I found a few more choices.
After swiping down system menu in the Home screen, go to:
Settings / Applications / Videos
Here you will see individual settings for HD and SD downloads. It turns out HD has 3 quality settings and SD has 3 quality settings. I chose to ask for each setting.
Also, in this menu, you will find the option for Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Audio. Because this increases the size of the video while streaming, it is turned OFF by default. I turned it on and it does make a noticeable difference with surround sound effect, both with speakers and headphones. The video you are watching will need to support this feature.
In this Video settings, there is also the option to clear video search history.
Another discovery with Prime Video downloads is that most videos do have a time limit for viewing offline. As long as you connect back online, it resets that time, so not a big deal in most cases. So far, I’ve noticed videos such as “Under the Dome” have a 48 hour limit offline before needing to reconnect. Other videos have a 30 day window. It seems as if some of the kids’ videos had no such time limit for offline viewing.
**UPDATE 2 DEC 2013**
I am discovering that not all Prime videos can be downloaded. This seems to be true with a lot of newer Prime movies and some TV shows. I’m hoping it is a licensing issue and not a decision made by Amazon. If possible, please make ALL Prime videos downloadable!
I also find the ability to browse videos to be tedious. Similar to Netflix, on the Kindle devices, Amazon pushes out choices to you in limited quantities. If your watching habits change on any given day, you will need to really dig into the menu choices to see all the viewing options out there. The menu choices overlap and can make browsing confusing, and a challenge to track what one has already browsed.
In the Videos, in the side menu under “Prime Instant Video” there are three main choices:
Top TV Shows
For the Kids
What tipped me off, is under “For the Kids” there are very few choices. I knew from my Roku device and from browsing from a web viewer, there had to be more choices for the kids.
Regardless of which of the three main categories one chooses, each has a sub-menu found by tapping the little down arrow that is right of the category description, such as:
MOVIES (Upper left hand corner once this choice has been selected)
Top Movies, Prime (Right under, MOVIE, in smaller letters) and the arrow is just right of this.
Each main category has sub-menu items, as noted before. But each sub-menu also has the same choices. These would be the same regardless of which main category one came from. Hence, this is where some confusion can come into play.
What each sub-menu has, within each main Prime category, is an option called, “Genres.” This is where one needs to go to find the rest of the Prime viewing choices. Unfortunately, there are even more sub-categories within each Genre choice. One will never find all the choices in one place for mass browsing.
Are you confused? That is my point. Browsing could be less confusing and easier to navigate.
For these two points within Prime Video, I’d knock off a half star. But since I can’t, I’ll leave my rating at 5 stars because overall, I’m still very happy with the device.
I found the speakers to have decent sound. It sounds a tad more fuller than my Sony Xperia Tablet Z, but iPad 4 is still much better and sounds louder. The new HDX is sufficiently loud enough while holding it, but I do wish it could go a notch or two louder. With my Klipsch X10i head phones, the sound was plenty loud. It sounded better than the speakers and was OK. It won’t win over Audiophiles, but good enough for entertainment purposes.
**UPDATE 6 NOV 2013**
In Settings/Device/Applications/Videos Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Audio is shut off by default. Turn it on. It improves the sound, especially with the built in speakers. I can actually sense a better surround sound effect in videos that support this.
I find that the speaker sound is actually pretty good the more I use it. There is more meat to the sound than I initially thought. For personal use, the loudness is good in a quiet environment. The sound quality is good for a tablet. The sound stage is narrow. The surround sound effect, once turned on is decent. The simulated surround effect is noticed most of the time.
I still think the iPad 4 has the best built in speakers I’ve heard on a phone or tablet. I listened to the built in speakers on the new iPad Air, and the Kindle Fire HDX is much better. The iPad Air built in speakers takes a big step back compared to the iPad 4. The Air also has mono speakers and it really sounds mono, in a bad way.
**UPDATE 2 DEC 2013**
Rather than relying strictly on my memory, I went back and tested the audio side by side with my wife’s iPad 4. I would say the sound quality is about the same. What I overlooked was the fact the iPad 4 only has one external speaker. It is mono. In that regards, I give the nod to the Kindle Fire HDX. With some surround effect, once turned on, the HDX separates itself even more. From my own testing, the built in speakers are one of the best on any tablet or phone. The more I use it this way, the more I am enjoying it. In most cases where disturbing others is not a concern, I don’t feel compelled to need headphones. If one does need a little bit louder sound, hold it with both hands from the top, and the sound reflects directly to you, making it sound a little louder. The decision to put the speakers on top in landscape mode, was a very good one.
The HDX has the latest and greatest Adreno graphics to compliment the current king of the hill quad-core Snapdragon 800 2.2GHz processor. Yes, it is a huge upgrade from the original Kindle. Huge!
Playing the Temple Run games, I’d get frustrated with the lag on the original Kindle Fire. No more lag. Graphics look great. No video tearing.
In Minecraft PE, the original Kindle can play it, but It’s not a great experience. The HDX plays it with the best Androids out there. Once again, the beautiful screen and powerful graphics chip makes playing Minecraft a joy, even with Amazon’s highly skinned version of Android running it.
The screen is sharp. Texts are very crisp. Colors are accurate and beautiful. There are no pixels to be seen by my naked eye.
One nice surprise is that the screen itself seems to be somewhat oliophobic. While fingerprints are there, they seem to disappear some. It is one of the better screens for this, at least that is my initial impression. I don’t think this was even intended. I’ll revisit this later with more time.
The screen is glossy. It does reflect a lot. But once turned on, it can be noticeable, but also easily forgotten. If you are prone to glare and easily distracted by it, keep this in mind.
**UPDATE 6 NOV 2013**
After further use, I still think the Kindle Fire HDX screen is one of the best screens in terms of keeping it clean. It does collect finger oils, but I find it still keeps on cleaning off easier than any other device I’ve ever used. I don’t even need a special cloth. Just by cleaning it off with the palm of my hands, the screen looks nearly clean again!
Yes, I tried it. I really had a question! No, really! I knew that while reading a book, the HDX could have its contrast adjusted for better reading in sunlight, as well as longer battery life. I looked everywhere how to get to this setting. I couldn’t find it.
I opened up the Mayday feature and waited about 30 seconds to connect. After confirming my email, address and name associated with my account, I was asked how they could help. With the speaker on full volume, I had a difficult time hearing the female tech, Celeste. I asked her my question and she did need to seek help to find the answer, but I got the answer. She was friendly. I could move the little window wherever I wanted. At one point, she took control of the screen.
The answer was that the screen brightness setting had to be set to auto and it would then recognize when to make the adjustments while reading.
It might seem a little daunting to do tech support via video conference. Don’t worry. The video is one way. They don’t ever see you. The tech can only see your screen.
The Mayday button is added with the first initial system update, which should take place during the setup. But if it failed the first time like it did for me, you won’t see it when swiping down for the settings on top of the screen. Manually update the Kindle by swiping down the top and finding it in the settings.
I really don’t see Mayday being a feature I’ll need much, but it’s a nice touch for the tech challenged.
This could be one of the most underrated features. I didn’t bat an eye about it before the purchase. Now, I think it is really useful and can see myself turning to it all the time.
In movies, tap the video screen and X-Ray pops up on the left side. X-Ray detects which characters are in the current scene and you can find out more about the actor. Trivia facts are also there. It’s like watching a DVD with narration on, only much less annoying and much smarter.
In the Music player, X-Ray provides scrolling lyrics that follow the song as it goes. If you are a karaoke fan (I am not much so) then you will love this.
Yes, even in some books, X-Ray is there. It provides footnote like data about characters and terms. I’ve only seen it in the book Les Miserable. There could be more. I’m guessing it depends on what the publisher provides.
SILK WEB BROWSER:
It’s pretty fast for an Android tablet. On a tablet, I still find the Ipad 4 is the best experience with Safari. There is the option for mobile website, desktop version, or automatic. This is a bit misleading. I prefer desktop version of websites. However, with Silk, you won’t get a real desktop experience. Silk still customizes the website to fit the HDX screen. The accuracy will depend on each website.
**UPDATE 6 NOV 2013***
I find I don’t use the Silk Browser much unless I need to quick look something up. I really wish the option to have a full desktop view did just that. On some of my sites, like Yahoo, it does a bad job of rendering pages. I may have to side load Chrome.
I just set up Kindle FreeTime. I did the Family Plan for up to 6 kid profiles for $6.99 a month. The other option is for one child for $2.99 a month.
Once I set the age (but not actual birthdays, just close to their age) for each child, and subscribed to the unlimited family plan, I tried using it.
It was a bit confusing at first. I wanted to set the content for each child. I couldn’t find all these “unlimited” apps, books and videos for kids. I could only see what was already on my device or what I owned in the cloud.
Only when I actually logged in as one of my kids, did I see all the kid’s content I had subscribed. There were plenty of choices. The initial choices were for me to determine what I wanted my kids to be able to access that was for my main account. No, I don’t want them to have access to all me and my wife’s content. But yes, I do want them to have access to other apps and videos we already purchased. That was what the initial content filtering was all about.
My first impression of Kindle FreeTime is that I may end up having to buy each kid their own Kindle. I can see them fighting over MY, I stress MY, Kindle HDX. I may never see it again once I let them on it. I think it’s going to be that good. Thankfully, I can set time limits for them!
**UPDATE 23 OCT 2013**:
I could not download videos for offline use within FreeTime. That seems to be an Amazon Prime video benefit.
Only certain books could be downloaded and viewed while offline.
I did like that some books can be set to have a narrator read the books to the young child. This is good for my 3 year old. He loves the Thomas books that do this.
The HDX came with about 60% charge. I’m making an educated guess since it was a graphic meter that is the default battery indicator. I changed it to show percentage after I’d used the Kindle for a short while. It had 54% by that time. After about 4.5 -5 hours of very heavy usage setting up, testing and downloading, I’m at the last 1%.
After completely draining the battery to where it shut off by itself, here is what I’ve been able to measure for recharging with the standard 5 watt included charger, which does eat up 2 outlets on an older power strip:
15% in 28:44 minutes
30% in 1:00 hour
40% in 1:22 hours
50% in 1:42 hours
60% in 2:03 hours
70% in 2:21 hours
90% in 3:05 hours
95% in 3:15 hours
100% in 3:34 hours Whew!
Note: There is no indicator light to show charging status.
**UPDATE 25 OCT 2013**:
I let my kids use the new Kindle Fire HDX during a 4 hour trip to visit family. With some video, lots of multiplayer MineCraft use, it lasted from Noon to 9 PM with about 35% battery life left. It wasn’t on all the time, but it was being used frequently.
In a more detailed drain test, here are the results:
5:41 Hours = 100% Brightness playing constant video (downloaded)
9:28 Hours = 50% Brightness playing constant video (downloaded)
During the 50% brightness test, it took 4:52 hours to drain down to 50% battery life. It took 4:36 minutes to drain from 50% down to 0% where it powered off on its own.
50% brightness is still viewable even in a well lit room. However, I’d at least go 70%. In dimly lit areas with some light, 50% is plenty bright.
The Kindle HDX is very efficient with power. It barely warms up and it never gets hot. The claimed rating of 11 hours with mixed use seems about right and that’s using it constantly. With light to medium use, one could easily go a full day and likely two or three away from a power source.
HOW MUCH MEMORY SHOULD I GET:
The base model with 16GB memory is $229. To double that memory to 32GB costs another $40. Compared to Apple’s memory upgrade practice, this is a cheap upgrade. To quadruple the base memory of 16GB to 64GB costs $80. This is the best value if you are going to upgrade the internal storage size. Here’s why:
$2.50 per GB to add 16GB storage to base model for a total of 32GB.
$1.67 per GB to add 48GB storage to the base model for a total of 64GB.
I got the 64GB model because I am a content lover. I love choice. I love freedom to use even when speedy internet is not available. I want to be able to download videos for my kids when travelling in the car. Even at home, I’d rather they view videos locally from a device so I don’t have to fight bandwidth with them! Data these days can add up fast. 8 GB on original Kindle Fire was definitely not enough for me. The new HDX can’t be upgraded later, so I did it now. 64 GB was the cheapest upgrade option per GB. Your reasons may vary, but maybe that will help you decide what’s best for you just in case you haven’t thought about a few of those points.
**UPDATE 6 NOV 2013**
If you want to save some money, the 32GB should be enough for most people. I consider myself a heavier user. I currently have about 17 episodes (most an hour episode) and 2 full length movies, all in 720P HD and I have 31.5GB space left. I haven’t loaded my own videos yet, but that is something I plan on doing. I’m glad I got 64GB.
For those of you that don’t care about storing large files on the Kindle device, the 16GB should suffice. If you change your mind down the road, you’ll need to buy a whole new device, so be sure of what you want. I will say that I’m glad 8GB option is gone. That just didn’t cut it.
If you are buying for kids, 16GB could be enough. Download videos in SD and it will save a lot of space and still be decent viewing quality. Also, with some diligence, simply delete content you’ve watched and you’ll get that space back. If you can live without the convenience and willing to work at it a bit, 16GB is still a good choice. For kid use with SD video, the 32GB option will give you ample room for the convenience factor.
SPECIAL OFFERS OR NO SPECIAL OFFERS:
I opted to keep the special offers. Why? Because, they don’t bother anyone. You’ll only see them from time to time on the screen lock when you first turn the HDX on. Special Offers don’t show up at any other time when you are using the device. If you like Gold Box deals, supposedly, some of these offers can be exclusive and even better deals. Why not? I’ll save $15 for that. I think people make way too big a fuss over this. Spend that money on some apps, songs or other content. The fun you’ll get from that will far outweigh the seeing a few ads that barely intrude on your life.
I have noticed that plugging in both the head phone jack and the micro-USB port requires going in at a slight angle. The angle matches the angled edges of the Kindle HDX. Don’t force it in straight on! Be gentle at first until you get the feel of it.
**UPDATE 6 NOV 2013***
After almost a month and a half, I find the micro-USB power port to remain a tight and secure fit. It’s one of the most secure feeling connections I’ve felt for a micro-USB device. We’ll see how it holds up after more time.
KINDLE ONLY EXCLUSIVES:
Try watching Amazon Prime videos from an Android device post ICS. Google doesn’t support Adobe Flash in Android any more. I find it frustrating. I can watch Amazon Prime videos from my Kindle devices.
I am one that does like to listen to my books while driving. You can’t do this from the Kindle app on other Android devices. Text to speech only works on actual Kindle devices. I’m not sure if the text to speech voice changed with the Mojito OS, but I like the new voice better. It is still mechanical, but much better. My only gripe is that the text to speech shuts off if you manually turn a page and when screen rotates. Please change this! Let text to speech stop when I choose to stop it, especially when driving in a car.
The Kindle 7″ HDX is meant for consumption of content for Amazon lovers. It excels at this in almost every way, from hardware to software. If you love Amazon, absolutely get it. Navigating Amazon’s skinned Android is simple and easy to use, but not meant for the tinkerer. It’s definitely not Apple in design. But, it is functional. It knows what it is and the latest Kindle Fire HDX, to me, is even more exciting than the original. The improvements are that good.
PROS & CONS
o Top of the line hardware, super fast and responsive
o Gorgeous screen for both resolution and color
o Screen handles fingerprints very well
o Lightweight and easy to hold
o Download Prime Videos
o Long battery life
o Crisp text for reading
o Great price for the hardware
o Kindle FreeTime for the kids
o Parental controls
o X-Ray provides useful information for video, music and books
o Kindle exclusive features
o Mayday offers free support and help
o Back power and volume buttons need getting used to
o Speakers sound OK, but could be a little louder
o Text to speech in books stops with screen rotation or manual turn of page
o No rear camera
o No HDMI out port
o No GPS
o No Google Play