Kindle Fire HDX
It is not often that I get the opportunity to check out the original version of a product and the new all-singing and dancing version of the follow-up version. However this rare occurrence has happened with the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Fire HDX versions of the seven-inch tablet. The former offering was a Christmas present that had been bundled with a one-year subscription for a national newspaper while the latter was supplied for review by Amazon.
When placing the two Fire tablets side-by-side, it was immediately obvious that there would be little chance of mistaking one for the other although the positioning of features such as the power button and volume controls remain the same. The Kindle Fire HDX is both smaller in size and lighter in weight. Amazon has trimmed the size for the Kindle Fire HDX down to 185 x 126 x 9mm (H x W x D) and cut the weight to 314g with a 34g reduction.
Another obvious difference is the presence of a front-mounted 1.3MP camera, with support for autofocus but no flash, on the HDX unit, a feature that was not included with the HD model. The actual positioning of this camera, in the centre of the longer bezel, gives weight to the theory that Amazon feels this tablet will be used mainly in landscape rather than portrait orientation. This theory is further supported by the moving of the speaker outlets to the top of the device when held in landscape orientation.
Beating at the heart of the Kindle Fire HDX is a Snapdragon 800 Quad-core processor running at 2.2GHz with 2GB of RAM. Models are available with a choice of 16, 32 or 64GB of integrated memory. My review sample was of the 16GB variety with around 11GB available to the user once the operating system and various standard apps have been pre-loaded. No option is available to increase storage as the HDX does not possess a memory card slot so you are stuck with what you started with.
The Kindle Fire HDX power button is located at the rear of the device which I found does take a little getting use to. My fingers still tend to gravitate towards the sides of the device to turn on/off the device before they realise their mistake and make the necessary detour. Including a 2-3 second depress of this power button, the HDX requires approximately 30 seconds for the boot-up sequence to be completed. It was noticeable that this sequence operated in portrait mode before it arrived at the Lock screen for the Fire Operating System version 3.0.
The screen provided with this unit has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 and delivers good quality images. It does not matter whether you are watching movies, using this tablet as an eBook Reader, playing games, viewing your digital photo images, surfing the web or carrying out some of the numerous other tasks, the Fire HDX screen will provide a wide viewing angle and not disappoint with its quality.
Your opening Home screen view consists of a centrally positioned carousel, which can be scrolled left or right, showing your most recent choice of activities ready for another visit. Arranged below the carousel are your favourite images installed on the device. An upward swipe will reveal others situated lower down. Running across the top of the screen is a menu bar which combines the search function with various categories of choices. These choices include Shop, Games, Apps, Books, Music, Videos, Newsstand, Audio Books, Photos, Docs, etc. You can use this menu bar to delve into a particular area of interest and bring up the relevant data and apps stored on the HDX or in the Cloud.
The Kindle Fire DHX makes great use of the Cloud. It can store all manner of data including apps you have purchased on other Kindle devices and are available for use on the HDX. When you access an area such as Apps, Music and Docs you will be given the option of viewing those items already stored on the Fire HDX or stored in the Cloud. When necessary you can decide to have items download from the Cloud to your tablet device.
The Shop option, forming part of the menu bar, locks you into the Amazon family in true Kindle fashion. Despite its wide ranging tendrils, the Amazon world can be a little limiting and force you to accept an alternative rather than what you really wanted. This is especially true with regards to apps as the Amazon Appstore lags behind the Apple store and the Play Store. However I do like the fact that you receive an email confirming each purchase including those for free products.
One aspect of the Kindle Fire HDX that is being heavily promoted by the product’s television adverts is that of the Mayday button. Accessible from the Help option under Settings or by swiping down from the top of the screen, you can make contact with one of Amazon’s Tech Advisors so that they can help solve any issues you may have. Connection was fairly quick, under 20 seconds in my case. I did find that I needed to repeat myself in order to discover that the Kindle Fire HDX does not support wallpaper changing. Obviously, though the television advert does not make clear, you do need access to the Internet to make this feature work as you can view the advisor but they can not see you.
Battery length is of a reasonable standard. A heavy session of movie viewing lasted 8 hours 5 minutes before the 10% of battery life warning appeared. The Kindle Fire DHX is a well-built device with a range of impressive features. It may lack an occasional feature such as memory card slot or NFC while tying you to the Amazon environment but its good plus points outweigh the minor faults. The Fire HDX is priced at £199.00.
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