Kindle Fire HDX 7″ Tablet Review

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ Tablet Review

Amazon recently had a sale on the Kindle Fire HDX 7″ Tablet and I decided to take the plunge.  Having never used a Kindle tablet in the past, I felt a bit curious on how the device stacked against my current iPad.

My 3rd generation iPad was due for an upgrade, but what really pushed me to try another platform was that I’ve had enough with syncing issues with the iPad.  Wi-Fi syncing never really worked for me, I had to jump through all kinds of hoops to get it to work, so i quickly let go of that idea.

With the latest iOS updates, my iPad simply became a nuisance to work with when transferring media files.  iTunes continuously reported having more space than it actually had, so I ended up with annoying messages about syncing not possible when iTunes displayed otherwise.  But enough about the iPad, let’s get on with the Kindle Fire.

This review will be based on the iPad I was using prior to the purchase of the Kindle Fire.  It’s also worth noting that I seldom use my iPad for work – I merely use it for quick e-mail, browsing, news, and entertainment.

Hardware

The Kindle Fire is definitely faster than my previous iPad and that comes as no surprise.  The Fire sports a quad-core 2.2 Ghz processor which makes it very responsive and speedy for my day to day tasks.  Unlike my iPad, I rarely had had to wait for the Kindle to switch to another application, it simply happens.  

Battery Life

The Kindle Fire HDX battery performance is nowhere nearly as good as my previous iPad.  This is somewhat disappointing as the iPad is more than a year older and it lasted an entire day when I used it while traveling.  When I left Costa Rica and used the Kindle Fire, halfway through my trip the battery had gone down to 50%.  Fortunately, the Kindle Fire charges a lot faster than the iPad, so I was back at full charge after finding a power outlet.  This issue can also be diverted by using a portable USB charger such as the one by LePow, a personal favorite.

Price

Apple will undoubtedly fall behind in this category with most of its products.  I rarely mind paying the premium for an Apple computer, but the price difference for a tablet was getting kind of ridiculous.  If I wanted the same specs as this Kindle Fire for the previous generation iPad Mini, it would’ve cost about $350.

The KindleFire was about $130.  I could not find a single feature of the iPad Mini that would me consider it over the KindleFire with that price difference.

App Store

I thought the Kindle store would be a ghost town, but i was surprised to find some of the apps I simply cannot live without:

  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Wunderlist
  • Feedly
  • Pandora
  • Pocket
  • Netflix

The Kindle Store is just like the App/Android store but with a lot less results – which tends to be a good thing.   It’s no secret that the Apple Store results are becoming less and less accurate, so finding what you need can be a daunting task. With the Amazon App store, if you don’t find it on the first page results, it does not exist – simple as that.  

Operating System and Usability

When it comes to usability and user experience, I am not as thrilled with this device as when I use iOS.  This is somewhat expectable as iOS has been around for 9 years already, but Amazon should’ve tried a bit harder to make things work better.

Can I speak now?  How about now?

Can I speak now? How about now?

With the latest version of Siri in iOS 8, it finally became usable and I have been using it on my iPhone for everything.  Voice dictation on the Kindle Fire is incredibly confusing as you don’t get back much feedback as what is going on.  To make matters worse, the dictation pane keeps freezing providing no feedback, so it’s really hard to tell when you are supposed to start talking.  It is painful enough that I have decided not to even try anymore.

Swipe keyboard is enabled by default on the Kindle device, on the iPad you have to shell out about $2 to get a third party keyboard that enables this functionality.  After years of listening to Android users on how indispensable this feature was, I now understand them and wonder how I lived all this time without it, so it’s great to see it implemented out of the box on the Kindle Fire.

application-switcher

Slick application switcher

Switching apps on the Kindle Fire is very simple…swipe from the right and the recently used apps will be displayed.  The iPad requires a double click of the home button or swiping with three fingers which always felt un-natural. The Kindle way (the Android way?) is definitely the way to go for switching applications.

The user interface, settings and so on were very easy to get used to.  I was a bit hesitant of using somewhere derived from the Android as I always find the home screens quite messy and easy to get lost in (and it’s not only me, yesterday at the Samsung store in Sydney, the gentlemen answering my questions got lost a few times as well!).  I believe a lot of thought was put into making the device as easy to navigate as the iPad but without being a cheap knockoff.  The home screen has sections on top that make it easy to navigate to where you’d like to go (Shop, Games, Apps, Books, Photos, etc).

Kindle Fire HDX Power Button

Somewhat difficult to find power button

The buttons of the device are on the back in order to save screen real estate.  After having the table for more than 2 weeks, I cannot get used to where the Power button is.  I always have to flip it around or look at the camera of the device to find out what orientation it is on to find the power.  I like Apple’s approach a lot better, there is no ambiguity as to where the power button is.

As you can see, my user experience is somewhat mixed.  There are some things that I am now doing that seem incredibly intuitive and better than the iPad way.  Then again, there are various tasks that I perform on the Kindle Fire that simply do not work at all or leave me disappointed when comparing it to the simplicity of the iPad.

Movies and TV Shows

The iPad is meant to a device that easily displays movies and tv shows.  This is usually the case if you buy/rent content from the App store, but if you want to use your own media, you are in for a world of hurt.  The iPad can only read files of a particular type, so you must convert them if you ever want to use them first (BTW, Waltr makes the whole process incredibly simple).

The Kindle Fire, on the other hand, plays anything I throw at it.  To make things even better, syncing is done by using Android File Transfer, which is as ‘drag and drop’ as you can get – no iTunes needed at all.

If you are a member of Amazon Prime, there’s tons of TV Shows and Movies that you can watch on your Kindle device for free.  If you are going on a trip, you can even put these media files on the Kindle for offline viewing, which I don’t think any other table out there can offer without some type of hackery.

In Summary

For entertainment purposes, The Kindle Fire HDX is an absolute pleasure to work with.  With Netflix support, a vast array of media type support and offline viewing with Amazon Prime Video there is little that can be improved.  

For other purposes, the Kindle might not be as mature as the iPad in various aspects, but in the end they are minor nuisances that can be easily circumvented one way or the other.  If you are looking to replace your iPad/iPad Mini, the Kindle Fire HDX is a amazing contender that I have no doubt in recommending.  

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