Amazon Kindle Fire HDX review
Just like the Google Nexus 7, the Kindle HDX’s display is a 7in, Full HD IPS unit, and it runs it close in terms of quality. We measured top brightness at 431cd/m2, to the Nexus’ 489cd/m2, and a contrast ratio of 895:1, although the HDX uses dynamic contrast, reducing brightness for dark screen content and boosting it when there’s lighter content on display, giving the appearance of a punchier display.
Another area where the HDX impresses is battery life. In our low-resolution looping video test, with the display calibrated to a brightness of 120cd/m2, the Fire HDX lasted 11hrs 30mins, which is only 18 minutes short of the time achieved by the Nexus 7. The HDX also drops into a low-power state when you’re reading a book and delivers even longer battery life. Amazon claims up to 17 hours.
All round, the redesign is a real success, and we’d happily recommend the HDX alongside the Nexus 7, even with those aggravating buttons, if it weren’t for a few major problems. First, there’s no rear-facing camera, just the front-facing 1.3-megapixel one. Second, there’s no NFC, the non-4G version has no GPS, and like the Nexus 7, no microSD slot. Third, and by far the HDX’s biggest problem, is Amazon’s insistence on running its own, proprietary Android-based user interface.
There’s nothing wrong with it from a usability point of view. In fact, in some respects Amazon’s approach makes the HDX simpler to use than the Nexus 7. When you buy an HDX, it comes ready-linked to your Amazon account, and it’s simplicity itself to access the content you’ve already bought through Amazon, whether ebook titles, music files or film rentals via Lovefilm.
Amazon has made this version even more easy to use, with the addition of the Mayday button. Accessible via the pull-down menu, this delivers live 24/7 video-chat tech support, where the tech support agent can take control of your tablet’s display, and show you how the various features of the HDX works. It works well, too, although it does rely on your tech support agent knowing his or her stuff.
Other new features include screen mirroring support via Miracast so you can play movies wirelessly to your TV (we wouldn’t advise you do this with games as it can be pretty laggy). There’s also Second Screen, which uses an app to stream video content from the HDX, via the internet, to compatible devices. This frees you up to carry on using the HDX to browse the web, or whatever else you fancy, although currently support is limited to some Samsung TVs, the Sony PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation 4.
The problem with Amazon’s approach is that it restricts you to Amazon’s services. You can’t use Google Play to buy apps, music and movies, you can’t install alternative keyboards, and you don’t get to use the superb collection of core Google apps, such as Maps, Google+, the Gallery and photo-editing tools, Hangouts and Google Now. Neither can you share apps bought on a smartphone with the Kindle HDX – if you want the same apps on both you have to pay twice.
The Kindle HDX is a brilliant piece of hardware, of that there is no doubt. It’s slick, quick and very easy to use. However, for us, it falls just short of greatness. We’d rather have the open approach and broader selection of features on the Nexus 7 than the faster performance of the HDX, especially since the price is exactly the same.
|Warranty||1yr collect and return|
|Dimensions||185 x 9.4 x 128mm (WDH)|
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,200|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,920|
|CPU frequency, MHz||2.2GHz|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
|Built-in flash type||N/A|
|Accessories supplied||USB charger|
|Upstream USB ports||0|
|Mobile operating system||Kindle Fire OS|