Kindle Fire HDX, True to Amazon, Offers Something for Everyone

Kindle Fire HDX, True to Amazon, Offers Something for Everyone
Hands On the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
Amazon Through and Through
You Might Like This
The Carousel
No Slip, but Plenty of Fingerprints
Easy Listening
The Buttons Situation
Enterprise Device?
Helpful Work Tools
Mayday
Mayday Can't See You
Personal Assistance for Any Task
Family Affair
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Kindle Fire HDX, True to Amazon, Offers Something for Everyone

By Michelle Maisto

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Hands On the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

Most immediately noticeable about the Fire HDX is its crisp display (2,560 by 1,600 and 339 pixels per inch) and how lightweight it is. At 8.9 inches, its display is a full inch larger on the diagonal than Apple's iPad mini, but it weighs just as little (0.8 pounds).

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Amazon Through and Through

The Kindle Fire HDX excels at making shopping easy—content is available at every swipe, in apps, menus and toolbars. And truly, the tablet makes every movie, song and app purchase (though many are offered free) easy to enjoy.

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You Might Like This

Even in the carousel—the central feature of Amazon's Fire OS, which holds recently used content for quick access—Amazon is working to sell to users. Under this book in the carousel, it's suggesting similar titles I might enjoy.

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The Carousel

Users can also add or remove content—whether embarrassing or sensitive—from the carousel.

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No Slip, but Plenty of Fingerprints

The back of the Fire HDX—save a glossy strip at the top where the speakers are—is covered in a rubbery, easy-grip coating. Unfortunately, normal household use calls for constantly cleaning. It's a smudge magnet.

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Easy Listening

There are two speakers on the back of the tablet that benefit from angled design that prevents them from sitting flat on a table when the tablet is set down. The result is a great audio experience—loud, distinct, far from tinny.

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The Buttons Situation

The power and volume buttons are on either side of the back of the tablet. They're positioned to be near a user's fingertips when the tablet is held in landscape mode with the camera (the only orienting feature) on the top. Still, there was rarely a time when I didn't flip over the tablet to access these. Maybe that would change with extended use.

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Enterprise Device?

Users can securely connect to an enterprise WiFi network at work and corporate apps while on the road using the native VPN client or third-party apps.

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Helpful Work Tools

An IT department could use Amazon's Whispercast or third-party mobile device management apps (such as Good Technology or Citrix) to support users, manage device policies and push content. Kerberos authentication offers secure browsing of intranet sites through the Silk browser. And Amazon has included other small efficiencies, like the ability to go straight into a new email, instead of always to the inbox.

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Mayday

The feature that really sets apart the Fire HDX from competing tablets, though, is the Mayday button. Users can tap it for near-instant assistance, 24/7, 365 days a year, for no additional charge.

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Mayday Can't See You

The customer service reps behind the Mayday button are polite and helpful. They can't see you, but you can see them—a detail that somehow makes the experience more comfortable. (If you couldn't see them, there would perhaps be more uneasiness about whether they could see you.)

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Personal Assistance for Any Task

While in some instances a Mayday helper can use a highlighter feature to show a user what she's trying to find (circling a Toolbar item, for example), the helper can also take control of the screen. When I said I wanted to be able to edit documents—a feature not native to the device—this Mayday rep offered to open the App Store, search for his favorite app for the task, install it and show me some tips. Which he did.

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Family Affair

While IT staff can set user limits, so can parents for your users, using Amazon's FreeTime app. For $2.99 per child per month for Prime members (and $4.99 for non-members), parents can choose appropriate videos, apps and books for a child to interact with, and set limits about how long the tablet can be used and during what hours. Kids also can't log out—and into the adult space. In even a three-generation household, the Kindle Fire HDX could be an ideal family device.

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