I have the new 7” Kindle Fire HDX in hand and have played with it for several days now. Attached below is the review I wrote for it on the Amazon website: I rated it a 4 out of 5 stars. The iPad lovers appear to have come out in droves against the positive reviews, so I’d appreciate it if you would click here or type in http://smarturl.it/hdx7review into your web browser and voting “Yes” just underneath the review on the Amazon website if you found the review helpful.
To sum up what I will tell you about in the details below, for $229 you are getting a good deal on a tablet computer – especially if you compare it to the $199 for last year’s first-generation Fire HD and the $500 or more you can spend on a Wi-Fi version of the iPad. Overall, if you consider the price and the functionality I think this is a great tool / toy if you watch a lot of video or play a lot of games on your device: the video quality is outstanding and you can really tell a difference between this and the new HD Fire. If you are a first-time tablet buyer, where price vs. value is a key consideration, or if you are looking for an affordable tablet for the kids, I’d recommend the “regular” Kindle Fire HD that is only $139. If you’re comparing last year’s HD model to this version and it is operating fine, I’d say save your money and continue to get your money’s worth out of that one.
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.
Hope that helps!
I’d appreciate it if you would click here or type in http://smarturl.it/hdx7review into your web browser and voting “Yes” just underneath the review on the Amazon website if you found the review helpful.