Kindle Fire HDX 7”, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB - Includes Special OffersCUSTOMER REVIEW
Update on Dec 23 2013 - Please scroll to the very end of this review for 2 month use update. […]
For those who are looking at getting the best tablet out there at the moment, this is the one you should be looking at.
My profile: Heavy tablet users for personal and business purposes. I work on my tablet around 4-5 hours a day (Email / Documents / Spreadsheet / PDF ) and use it 1-2 hours for personal use such as watching movies or reading books/magazine. Tablet is my go-to device for all internet related search I do.
I have the following and/or used the following before:
1) iPad 1
2) iPad 2
3) iPad 4
4) iPad Mini
5) Kindle Fire
6) Kindle Fire HD
7) Kindle Fire HD 8.9
8) Asus Transformer with Keyboard
9) Nexus 7 First Gen
10) iPad Air 16gb Wifi
As you can see, I been through many devices and hope this review with my experience helps users decide if this is the right device for them. This will be an ongoing review for this device throughout this next year. For comparison sake, I will use last year’s Kindle and iPad mini as they are the closest size to this HDX 7”
This is leaps and bounds faster than last year Kindle HD. Last year Kindle struggles to go through any HD video content I put in. This year’s HDX able to play seamlessly all the HD 1080p contents I added. It is incredible how much the 2.2Ghz quad processor improved vs last year’s model Dual 1.2Ghz.
This is the biggest improvement over last year’s model. The screen is in true HD 1080p (1920x1080). This means any HD content I throw at it will view in its intended resolution. The screen is crystal clear (much better than iPad mini) and the viewing angle is incredible. I have this Kindle hanged in the middle of the car and at any seat it is view very clearly. Last year’s model was not as clear as this. This is excellent for my minivan with my kids watching all the HD movies. The brightness of the screen is also much brighter than last year’s model
The sound system in this Kindle Fire HDX is using Dolby Digital Plus with virtual 5.1 surround sound. That gives this device a much better surround sound then previous generation’s.
This HDX is more “angular” than last year’s device. It’s slightly rougher to hold in the corners than last year’s model due to sharper edges though I doubt any users will hold their tablet by their corners. The device is noticeable lighter (395g for Kindle Fire HD vs 303g for Kindle Fire HDX). This mean you can hold this for longer time without fatigue.
The power and volume button placement on this Kindle Fire HDX is interesting. It is behind the device which allows it to hide away from front view. However, this can cause user to accidentally hit the on/off button or the volume button when not being careful. Aesthetically it is great but it is definitely not a practical solution when you are trying to use this on the go.
It does look sturdy enough to survive minor drop but I highly recommend getting a case for it. Those sharp corners seems more prone to dents than round corners for last year’s model.
This is probably the biggest drawback for this device. The battery life is not as good as last year’s model. This is quite logical as last year’s HD has a 4400mAh battery while running 720p while this HDX runs Full HD 1080p but runs only on a 4500mAh battery (only 100mAh more than last year). The 1080p screen pulls a lot of power vs last year’s model when the screen is on, especially when running HD videos. I’m able to achieve 5 hours of heavy use compare to 7 hours for last year’s Kindle Fire HD at medium brightness with Wi-fi on all the time. I tend to bring around an external battery pack but prefer something that is integrated (like a battery case)
Software & software compatibility (8/10):
The amount of app is still lacking compare to App store or Play store but has been steadily increasing which is a great sign. Games and software boot time has increased noticeably and compatibility is not an issue
Silk browser has definitely improved compare to last year’s tablet with multiple tabs actually now usable on the HDX. For last year’s version, it is practically unusable after 2 tabs due to the lack of hardware resource on the tablet (especially when the website is not optimized for mobile use). The HDX has no problem going through any webpages I throw at it.
Hopefully more apps will be optimized to use quad core soon. I’m guessing some of these apps are only optimized for last year’s dual core.
I haven’t got the opportunity to use Mayday yet but will review about it once I get more update on this.
Complimentary Accessories (3/10):
For all smart devices, one of the most important time is the number of accessories available. At launch, it is understandable the lack of accessories but productivity focus accessories such as integrated case/keyboard are missing at launch. This is rather disappointing as it can be a powerful productivity device with the right accessories attached. Also the lack of case selection is quite astonishing for a flagship product on Amazon. Hope there will be more cases such as battery case (due to above battery problem) or rugged case come out soon.
I got the special offer model at 16Gb (lowest end model) and it is enough for me to use. The special offer ads are not intrusive like last year’s model and sometimes does reveal some items I want. Compare to the ipad mini, this is practically a steal. For those with the Nexus 7, it is quite comparable in price.
Conclusion in one sentence: Amazon’s iPad mini killer (8.5/10)
For people who are justifying if this is a good upgrade, I say YES to that. The speed and screen difference alone is worth the upgrade. The whole user experience just improve drastically with the HDX.
It use to be, for Kindle Fire HD, you will trade low price for slow performance, stutter and lag. It honestly makes you think twice if the price is really worth all that poor experience.
For HDX, this is no longer the case. You get both great price, great screen and great performance that surpasses iPad mini. To me, the HDX is seriously Amazon’s iPad killer. It really marks how well Amazon has done to make themselves a worthy competitor in the tablet market. I hope some software upgrade or battery pack can make this the ultimate road warrior!
****************************Dec 23th 2013 - 2 months update *********************************
So I have been using between this HDX 7” and the 8.9” HDX. I also been using an iPad Air 16Gb Wifi and here are some updates, particular on the negative points mentioned previously.
App Store - not so refined still. Downloading and Installing problem occurs
The app store after 2 month is still a bit lacking. There are some freebie deals during cyber monday which I jumped (who doesn’t like free stuff?)but still nothing that either the Apple App store or Google Play don’t have. Amazon App store really needs some exclusive apps to become a “must get” device.
Now comes the bad part - I tried to download Magic 2014 game (big fan of Magic the Gathering since teen) from the Amazon App Store and the HDX 7” downloads this rather slowly. In fact, I noticed that when it reaches 50% it drops back down to 30% and redownloads the package again! Since I’m not in a rush I really have no issue with this re-download problem. However, this can be problem to some people who have limited bandwidth per month and won’t appreciate redownloading the same thing again 2 times (or more but I didn’t catch that).
Once it reaches 100%, the app store attempts to install the software. It goes into “Installing…” state for a while (at least couple hours). Knowing that there’s something weird going on, I rebooted the HDX 7”. Once I rebooted it, the software shows it was never downloaded!
Perhaps there’s some application specific problem with this game but this really shows a rather poor experience on the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX. I would expect a brand new top of the line Kindle Fire HDX would have ironed out simple bugs such as this but clearly, the Amazon App Store have 2 things it needs to work on:
1) If this is an application specific error, Amazon needs to proactively test this release on all their devices before allowing it on the Amazon App Store. It’s quite obvious if any Amazon App store guys have even tried to install this Magic 2014 game that it just won’t install. Literally half the reviews on the review complain about this
2) For these buggy release, Amazon should proactively pull this application from the store - the experience that lead to all the hours of download and wasted bandwidth got the user nothing in the end. I can imagine some users with capped bandwidth or using their cell data to download will be furious if they know an app less than 1Gb rack them couple Gb of download.
App Store is a big part of Amazon’s Kindle Fire ecosystem and poor experience such as this really deters client in continued use, especially when all Kindle Fire are locked down to Amazon software ecosystem. When you cannot even use the Amazon software ecosystem, any excellent hardware that this machine has becomes inaccessible and worse of all, a waste of user time to figure out.
Now most people may say this criticism is related to the game(in this case, Magic 2014). I believe this is not the case. The responsibility of Downloading and Installing of the Magic 2014 application belongs to the Amazon App Store (after all, it is Amazon App Store people who authorized this to be released in their store). I start to find all other game download and installation questionable and my own usage time in App store browsing and purchasing drops drastically.
From the above download experience, I did attempt to find some help from Amazon. Here is where the more problem arises.
Mayday - speaking to rep reading off outdated troubleshooting guides
After noticing my Magic 2014 download is gone, I attempted to contact Amazon through the Mayday button. It’s really my first time using this function so I don’t really have any prior experience in using it.
My Mayday call was picked up by Hayley (if I recall). You can see a big Amazon logo in the background beside the customer service rep and she looks pretty friendly. I explained my situation with the App store problem to Hayley but it seems she wasn’t able to help; therefore I got transfer to a “Tech Advisor”. This Tech Advisor can’t be shown in the video camera and asks for my credentials. She also made me explain the problem again which I explained to Hayley (I would have thought someone will note down my problem as I need to use couple mins to explain again). She then pulls something that you expect from an Indian Call Center by asking me to disconnect my internet modem. I find this rather funny as I mentioned this is a software specific problem with the installation and has nothing to do with my modem or Internet connection. I also mentioned that I am running a server at home and pulling the modem disconnects it from the Internet which breaks other services I am running unintentionally. She seems to be stuck so she forward me to another representative (which if I heard correctly, it is the app store support rep).
Once I got connected to the 3rd rep, they ask me to check my tablet date and time (which is correct). This rep later ask me to press on options that are not the screen. I suspected this rep was reading off an old Fire OS troubleshooting guide as I recently updated the Fire OS system and that some options and buttons are changed. Given the large amount of time spent and there’s no resolution, I went to my iPad air and downloaded the game successfully in couple mins while still have Amazon on the Mayday call. I informed the 3rd tech support of this and thank them for their time although there was no resolution in the end.
I very much prefer having the game on my Kindle HDX as the 7” is perfect to bring outside for quick game or two, but the amount of time spent on troubleshooting and resource wasted on this is honestly not worth my time. I ended up having to play this game on the iPad Air larger screen but also paid for in app purchase because the game itself is very good.
It’s a good lesson to learn that the whole software user experience needs to be more streamline and fluid on the Kindle. Amazon has done successfully in the physical good purchasing section of the kindle fire (in fact I spent thousands of dollars more on Amazon.com using the kindle fire than on PC and very satisfy with the results) and that if it can bring the same experience to the software app store just like the physical store, Amazon will have a winner here. I use my machine extensively for magazine reading / internet browsing but when it comes to app download, I currently have my doubts if it will be another bandwidth hog and a waste of time.
Display - blue hue appears but not very apparent
Some people ask if the blue hue appears on the edge. I can notice this if I’m reading off a totally white page (like a ebook or magazine). However it is not very noticeable and that your eyes will ignore it eventually. After all, words or graphic don’t appear on the edges of the screen.
Battery life - Still needs work on
After the OS update, there seems to be a slight improvement with the battery life. However, still not enough for me to really go through the day without bringing an external battery charger pack along. At the moment, I am still looking for a 2 in 1 case + battery solution but it is not available. I hope this can be my daily driver but without the battery life, it may just be a brick by the afternoon.
Purchasing on Amazon.com - becomes addictive (Could be good or bad for some people!)
I realized my spending on Amazon went up considerable compare to last year thanks to this Kindle Fire HDX. I will be browsing it online and have these items saved on screen, constantly reminding me to get it. Amazon really done a good job at this and really met, if not, exceed their goal in getting users buying from kindle fire. With last year fire, the browsing experience on Amazon.com was not nearly as fluid as this year’s HDX. This makes it hard to keep my attention and urge to buy. For people who wants a good purchasing experience, this Kindle Fire HDX will surely provide that. For ones who need to save money, you may want to get your finger off the buy button!
My overall rating stays the same as Amazon keeps knocking off prices for these machines making it still the best bang for the buck.
Apr 28 Update - Family Use
Got my kids an extra Kindle Fire HDX 7” for them to play with. My HDX 7” is still running well with all my Instant Video and newsstand subscription inside.
Since my kids don’t treat their new toys with much care, I went and got them and myself a zerolemon EVA Case on Amazon. The case is useful for prevent dents and major falls on your Kindle. Even with my Kindle, the top pantel where the speakers are started to peel off a bit (amazon used glue to assemble the speaker grille top panel). Case works great for hiding some of the blemishes of the kindle fire hdx 7”
Overall still satisfied with my machine and frankly been the best bang for the buck tablet i ever have.
As mentioned, I will update this review periodically. Next time I will focus on physical wear and tear of the machine after couple more months and again on battery life (as all electronics have a diminishing battery duration throughout its course of use). […] Thanks for reading!