Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Review: It's all About Mayday

 
 
By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-03-17 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Parents can establish how long their kids can access this content, or during which hours, and kids can't stray outside of the safe content without the adult user's password.

The service starts at $2.99 a month (per kid) for Prime members and $4.99 a month otherwise. After reading a handful of new books to my daughter in a single sitting, the fee felt already worthwhile.

But hands-down the greatest feature of the HDX is its Mayday button—a life preserver icon accessed by pulling down a menu from the top of the display. Users can press the button 24/7/365, and in a matter of seconds a friendly person in a call center asks how they can help you with your tablet.

While these people can't see you, Amazon was smart to realize the appeal of you seeing them. A little box opens, and you see the person, sitting at his or her monitor with an Amazon logo in the background. With your permission, these people can access your screen, whether to circle or point to items with a highlight feature, or more fully take charge.

When I pressed Mayday, wanting an app that would let me edit documents, a helpful person offered to show me his favorite one. I agreed, and he accessed the app store, searched for the app, installed it and opened it up to show me a few tips for using it.

This button makes the Kindle HDX the perfect tablet for technologically squeamish folks who might otherwise enjoy using a tablet to access the Internet, watch videos and send a few emails. My mother, who can respond to an email on her iPhone but insists she can't figure out how to initiate a new one, comes to mind. (I've shown her four times. The Mayday service folks could undoubtedly muster more patience at this point than I can.)

As wonderful as the Mayday button is, it seems a potentially problematic feature for enterprise users, if they were indeed to use this Kindle. What if someone were to hit Mayday while sensitive documents were open? Is that silly to think? Or is it sillier to assume this won't ever happen?

I was slightly embarrassed to realize that Dirty Dancing (Amazon emailed to say it was among the new videos I could watch for free; I watched a few minutes) was prominent in the carousel after I closed a Mayday call. It's easy to imagine even more embarrassing—or sensitive—content being viewed by Mayday helpers.

Likely, an enterprise can turn off this feature, but what a pity that would be.

The Kindle Fire HDX is great for watching videos, listening to music, checking emails (it's a very comfortable interface) and pecking around the Web. (You can, of course, also read on it, but it's nothing like the eye-soothing Kindle Paperwhite e-reader.)

The WiFi-only version is priced at $379—a tricky price point, when the WiFi-only, 7.9-inch Apple iPad mini with Retina display starts at $399. Enterprise users would be wise to spend the extra 20 bucks.

But for those consumers for whom a built-in tech assistant sounds like a dream come true—if you were to pay $1 a day for the free service, the Kindle Fire HDX would basically pay for itself in a year—Mayday makes this tablet worth every dollar.

 

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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