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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.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7

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.


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One reply on “Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 review roundup”

  1. Hrm. My use case may be a bit peculiar; I own an original (2010) iPad, and while my kids use it for games (when we let ’em), I mostly use it for reading in “portrait” mode. I also have an inexpensive 10″ Android tablet (via a Liliputing drawing — thanks, Brad!) with a wider screen aspect ratio, and I realized that a tremendous amount of screen real estate is wasted above and below a typical page with American letter size proportions when displayed in portrait mode. So if your tablet use includes a lot of portrait use, a better comparison of size may be not the diagonal of the screen but the short dimension.

    I bring this up because I was thinking of replacing my 680 gram (1.5 lb) iPad with an iPad mini at 310 grams, though I’d expect it might bulk up a bit when it goes Retina. I also have had iPhones since 2007 (and Macs since 1998), so I’m pretty deep into iOS (and Apple); and the fact that these Kindle Fire HDX models are seriously tempting someone like me with their light weights and high resolutions, not to mention lower prices, suggests that Apple ought to be seriously concerned about this competitor. (I should mention that I’m reading magazines and PDFs with color illustrations, fixed layout, etc., and I _do_ want to keep “app-ability,” so an inexpensive e-reader isn’t in the running.)

    However, I had been mentally comparing the 7″ Kindle Fire HDX with the iPad mini and the 8.9″ version with the full-size iPad, and I realized that in terms of screen size, the models are not really equivalent, and are even less so if the short dimension is the limiting factor, as it is if you’re a heavy “portrait” user like me. So, thinking out loud, let’s compare some of the specs of 16 GB base models, including the current full-size Retina iPad:

    Kindle Fire HDX 7″ ($244)
    16×10 aspect ratio
    7″ diagonal, 3.71″ short side
    323 ppi
    10.7 oz

    iPad mini ($329)
    16×12 aspect ratio
    7.9″ diagonal, 4.74″ short side
    163 ppi
    10.9 oz

    Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ ($394)
    16×10 aspect ratio
    8.9″ diagonal, 4.72″ short side
    339 ppi
    13.2 oz

    iPad ($499)
    16×12 aspect ratio
    9.7″ diagonal, 5.82″ short side
    264 ppi
    23.0 oz

    Kindle Fire HDX advantages include cheaper storage increments ($40 for each storage step for 7″ model, $50 for 8.9″ model, up to 64 GB, vs. $100 for each step on iPads up to 64 GB for mini, 128 GB for full-size), and the option to save $15 with “Special Offers” ads on the lock screen; however, my interest is in the base models as outlined above. I’m also not comparing cameras here, since I don’t know much about any of them and I doubt I’d use them anyway (I’d be carrying my iPhone 5 or a DSLR). Likewise, my experience is not broad enough to comment on build quality, responsiveness, battery life, etc., or the specs like RAM and GHz that feed into them, while Fire OS vs. iOS is a matter of subjective judgements. iPad advantages, apart from any that might have come up in the comparisons I’m omitting, include the fact that the Kindle Fire HDX models are near-future, so that iPad specs (weights, mini to Retina, possibly prices) are likely to improve by the time by the time the KFHDX models are available. (Previous experience suggests iPad upgrades this month, possibly with availability delayed until a bit after the KFHDX tablets come out.)

    The above comparison seriously shifted my gears. Just considering diagonal sizes, the two Kindle Fire HDX models are a half-slot below the two iPad models (7″ – 7.9″ – 8.9″ – 9.7″), while for portrait use with the short side of the display as a limiting factor, the iPad mini is actually a hair _larger_ than the 8.9″ KFHDX! Also, I’ll be waiting to upgrade until I see an iPad mini with Retina display, and if it simply doubles the standard resolution as the full-size iPad did when it went Retina, it would have a resolution of 326 ppi — right up there with the KFHDX models. My conclusion is that, if Apple can hold the line on the iPad mini price when they boost it to Retina and if the weight doesn’t rise too much, then far from being overweight or overpriced (well, the full-size iPad _could_ stand to lighten up), the near-future iPad and iPad mini are likely to be pretty much right in line with these near-future Kindle Fire HDX models relative to what you get in the base models (storage upgrade prices change the balance pretty fast, though). Moreover, the iPad mini with Retina display would likely be a better choice for a heavy portrait user like me than the 8.9″ KFHDX (cheaper and lighter, with a hair larger short side).

    I apologize for the overlong post, but this comparison surprised me enough that I thought it might be of interest to others, especially iOS users considering a switch as I am. (I should acknowledge that I’m an Apple shareholder, too…)

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