Amazon is bringing 3 new tablets to market this fall, but while the new Kindle Fire HD is remarkable for its low starting price of $139, and the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is notable for its high-resolution, 2560 x 1600 pixel display, it’s the Kindle Fire HDX 7 which is kind of the flagship device.
It’ s a 7 inch tablet with a full HD display, a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a front-facing camera, and a starting price of $229.
But is it worth buying? The initial reviews look pretty good… if you’re happy living in Amazon’s app and media ecosystem.
The biggest challenge Amazon continues to face is the fact that there aren’t as many apps in the Amazon Appstore as there are in the Google Play Store (which is where you get apps on most other Android tablets). Quality is more important than quantity, but if some of the apps you want aren’t in the store, then it’s hard to argue that the quality is there.
Still, there are tens of thousands of apps available for this tablet and Amazon includes its own software solutions that might sweeten the deal for some, including an excellent Kindle reading experience (with support for text-to-speech — something you don’t get with the Kindle Paperwhite), premium features for Amazon Prime subscribers including the ability to stream and even download Amazon Instant Video content for no additional charge, and more.
Amazon has also rolled out a crazy new support feature called Mayday which lets you tap a button to get live support within 15 seconds. A video window will pop up and a support rep will help you with your problems, even taking control of your device or drawing on your screen if you give permission.
While tech-savvy users might just want to buy this tablet for its specs, root it, and try to install a custom ROM, that Mayday service could be awfully attractive for folks who just want a device to read books and watch movies, and who can’t figure out, for instance, why they can’t get their library books to load properly or how to set up an email account.
Mayday will probably see the most use around the holidays, when new tablet owners are opening their presents.
Reviewers were impressed with the tablet’s speed and battery life (around 10 to 11 hours of run time).
Here are some of the highlights of recent reviews.
- CNET – The Kindle Fire HDX is a great value that balances price and performance… especially for folks who pay $79 per year for Amazon Prime subscriptions.
- Engadget – The speakers have been moved to the top, where sound is less likely to get muffled, and the screen looks great indoors and outdoors.
- GigaOm – It’s easier to read books for a long time on the Kindle Fire HDX display than on any of Apple’s iPad displays. But the iPad mini is lighter, works better for email and documents, and has more apps.
- Gizmodo – It’s really, really fast and everything feels smooth. Amazon’s claims of 17 hours of battery life when in reading mode weren’t an exaggeration.
- Laptop – Android aficionados might be better off with a Google Nexus 7, but Amazon’s enormous digital content library and excellent parental controls help make it one of the best tablets of the year.
- Mashable – While a lot of folks have pointed out that there aren’t as many apps available for this tablet as for other Android tablets, Mashable tested a few games and found they ran well. The Amazon Silk web browser is also reportedly faster than ever.
- SlashGear -The tablet works best if you’re already committed to using Amazon’s ecosystem for apps, music, books and movies. But while it’s kind of a money-making machine for Amazon, it’s a pleasure to use.
- TIME Techland – Amazon got it right and produced a tablet that doesn’t feel like it came from a company that’s still learning how to mix hardware and software.
- The Verge – This is a great device… for buying stuff from Amazon. It’s more of a platform for watching videos and reading books than an all-purpose tablet, and the media-centric layout of the operating system makes that pretty clear. Also, the volume and power buttons are awkwardly placed, and hard to find with your fingers.
There are a lot of videos in the links above, but SlashGear’s video demonstrating the Mayday service is one of the most informative. While many folks might wonder why they should opt for a Kindle Fire HDX 7 when it’s the same price as the Google Nexus 7 and has similar specs, this video shows just how much better Amazon’s tablet may be for people who are a little less comfortable with technology… or who just like talking to strangers.