Kindle Fire HDX 7 – My First Impressions

Tablet by:
Amazon
Version:
Fire 7
Price:
$199

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On June 4, 2016
Last modified:June 20, 2016

Summary:

Amazon's latest Kindle Fire brings a lot of welcome upgrades and is sure to be a big seller this holiday season.

Kindle has come up with Fire HDX; this is the latest tablet in offering. This is a 7-inch tablet that is priced at $229. It is said to be a tweaked version of the Fire HD. This tablet comes handy if you are a great fan of Amazon and its content. You will be easily able to purchase the without ads version for at least $15.

What to look for in Fire HDX?

Kindle Fire HDX 7The Kindle Fire HDX is slimmer with 7.32 x 5.04 x 0.35 inches dimensions. The tapered look that gives it style but the placement of the power and volume buttons at the back seem a bit hard to reach. This tablet will allow you to squeeze out battery juice up to 7 ½ hours. This is indeed an upgrade from Nexus 7 that would only give you 6 hours of battery backup. Other specifications include QualComm Snapdragon 800 chipset that is powered with Quad core, 2200 MHz processor and 2GB RAM. It comes in three variations that include 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. The 64GB is the only version that gives you the Wi-Fi only or 4G LTE support.

The Kindle HDX is better than its predecessor because of the resolution that gives it the HD screen capability. With 323 ppi, it comes on par with the Nexus 7. Another advantage of the screen display is that the visibility of content is good even in sunlight. Additionally with relatively faster processor with Android (4.2.2) Fire OS 3.0 clubbed with tweaked UI, you will enjoy the smooth and peppy performance of this tablet.

The home screen display comes loaded with additional new features along with the new OS. Other things include a carousel of videos, songs, apps and books. However, your favorite icons sit comfortably in the grid right below the screen. If you want, you can make the carousel disappear for a cleaner look.

For user convenience and quick customer support the additional button is provided that is termed as the Mayday help. If you are looking for advice, tutorial or troubleshooting something with Fire HDX then press this button and within 10 seconds you will be getting the required assistance.

To access Mayday Button swipe down from the screen and Settings bar will appear to display a video window. A support executive will appear on your screen to give you necessary help required. You will be able to see the support executive but on the other side the support executive will only be able to hear you. The support executive will have access to your device and will also be able to illustrate by drawing on the screen. With your permission they will be able to take over your device for remote support and resolving the issues immediately.

The Hardware

Kindle Fire HDX 7 Display

The Kindle Fire HDX 7″ is an anonymous black slab from the front, but a nicely chamfered trapezoid from the back, which endows it with some unexpected cubist cool. The large Amazon branding across the back is slightly offputting but it is appropriate — make no mistake, Amazon’s services loom very large over this device.

The rounded edges of the screen make it very easy to hold, and it’s light enough (303g for the wi-fi-only model we tested) to make carrying and holding it extremely easy, as does the non-slip plastic chassis. It’s very thin — a mere nine millimetres deep — but feels reassuringly solid.

Unusually, both the power button and volume rocker are on the back on the device, at index-finger-height. This is mildly disconcerting at first, but actually a nice design feature, making it easy to adjust volume while watching video without pausing (that’s assuming you’re using the device in landscape mode, which seems to be the default). There is a 720p front camera of adequate quality, but no rear camera. If you want to see what’s inside, take a look at the pics from the teardown.

Speakers are on the back of the unit, and as a result tend to project sound away from you rather than towards you. This is most noticeable in noisy environments, where I found myself turning the device over to listen, which is hardly ideal.

The charging point and the headphone jack are the only ports on the side (there’s no SD card slot to upgrade your storage).

The much-vaunted ‘beyond HD’ 323ppi touchscreen (7in., 1,920 by 1,200 pixels) is crisp, although perhaps not quite as sumptuous as the screen on the Nokia 2520 (although according to one set of benchmarks it outperforms the iPad mini). Unsurprisingly it’s a very good tablet for reading; and watching video is also an excellent experience, with good viewing angles.

The quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor runs at 2.2GHz and, with 2GB of RAM in support, delivers a very smooth and responsive experience with no hint of lag.

The Software

I tested out the ad-supported model, which means the first thing you’ll notice is the lock screen, which will display an advert — for a book, a game or a Kindle add-on. You can pay an extra £10 to get the ad-free version, which I’d recommend: I found this quite offputting.

The lock screen is another harbinger of what you’ll find inside the tablet: at times I found using the Kindle Fire was a little too much like surfing the web in a shopping mall — at every turn Amazon wants to sell you something.

The device runs Fire OS 3.0 ‘Mojito’, which is Amazon’s fork of Google’s Android. That means Amazon has been able to customise the software with its own features, particularly around the user interface.

Because it’s an Amazon device, you get immediate access to one of the world’s largest content ecosystems — over 27 million movies, TV shows, songs, apps, games, books, audiobooks and magazines. Clearly this is one of the device’s major selling points.

One nice touch is the inclusion of a Mayday button offering live tech support, which Amazon promises is available at any time — with the goal of connecting you to support within 15 seconds. Amazon’s tech support staff can talk you through how to use to the tablet and answer queries: you can see them in a small video window, but they can’t see you. When we tested the service, the support desk responded within the target 15 seconds and knew enough to answer our queries.

It’s a neat little addition and possibly reflects the market the Kindle is going after: tech beginners who might want to upgrade from a Kindle reader to a tablet but don’t have extensive computing skills. As such, those of us who provide unofficial tech support to various friends and family may well end up recommending Kindles if only for the peace and quiet. Mayday might also be a handy tool for tablets in a BYOD setting, taking some pressure off the corporate help desk.

Other Kindle-only features include X-Ray for Music, which offers song lyrics, and X-Ray for Movies & TV, which uses IMDb to offer trivia or plot details while you’re watching videos. If you’ve got a Playstation 3 or a 2013 Samsung TV, you can use the Second Screen feature to display video from the Fire on the TV screen, using the tablet for playback controls or X-Ray content, for example. The bundled Silk browser is workmanlike, although the reader mode that strips out most of the formatting on a web page to deliver an easier reading experience is an nice touch.
What about the apps?

Using Fire OS also means you won’t be downloading apps from Google Play like most other Android users; instead, you’re restricted to Amazon’s own app store. By using a fork of Android, Amazon has created a walled garden of apps, which means, for example, that you can’t currently view content from Channel 4, ITV or Channel 5 thanks to the lack of Flash support on the tablet and the fact that there’s no alternative app.

These and other ‘missing’ apps may appear at some point, but it’s worth bearing in mind that developers inevitably go for the biggest and most lucrative markets first, starting with iOS, then Android, then Windows Phone. Another example: although Spotify is now free on iOS on Fire OS, you still only get a 48-hour free trial.

All tablets try to tie you into a particular content ecosystem, whether that’s via iOS, Windows or Android. However, Amazon’s Fire OS fork is probably about the same priority for developers as Windows Phone — at least, that’s how it seems given the limited set of apps in the Amazon Appstore. This is worth keeping in mind if you’re particularly app-hungry.

Amazon has touted the Kindle’s enterprise-ready credentials , with support for encryption, Kerberos Intranet, secure wi-fi connections and VPN integration. Despite Amazon’s claims, this remains a content-consumption device rather than an enterprise workhorse, especially because of its small size – the 8.9-inch model is a better fit for business.

But although documents look great on the 323ppi screen, getting them there in the first place isn’t that easy if you want to email a document directly to a Kindle; you first need to authorise the sender’s email address, which is a bit fiddly to set up, alternatively you can sync them from a computer, clip them from the web or transfer via USB. Mostly it’s probably just easier to email them to your own account (I found Gmail worked well with the tablet’s built-in email application).

The Bad

The HDX is not much different from its predecessors but it is only capable of allowing you to access a handful of third-party apps that are available at Google and Apple stores. You will instantly crave for the missing bunch that includes Dropbox, Instagram, YouTube, Google Maps and Netflix. For this very reason you might want to keep away from purchasing this tablet, as these apps are the most necessary apps.

Other things that might turn you off about this tablet is the missing rear camera in the lower rung model. However if you go for an upgraded model then you will be able to enjoy rear camera advantage.

Conclusion

After all that is said about Kindle Fire HDX 7 you would love it for its peppy processor, latest OS version, resolution and slim profile. The things that this tablet lack are missing popular apps for storage and entertainment. These can however be downloaded or overcome by online support. If you are the one who is hooked on to Amazon and its offerings then this tablet is for you.

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Jennifer tries to cover as many topics as I can and offer my readers the chance to find out useful and interesting things as often as possible. I consider writing to be my strongest skill. When she isn't busy being a Corporate Event Planner she is spending time with her family.