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

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

REVIEW: The enterprise users who take up the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX as their workday tablet are likely those deeply engaged with the brand or already in possession of the device and can get a bit of extra work done by bringing it along. There's a VPN, so users can securely access corporate email, as well as apps that let them open and edit Microsoft Office documents. Otherwise, the Fire HDX is more truly a consumer-geared tablet, brilliantly designed by Amazon to make it absolutely effortless to buy anything in Amazon's warehouses or waiting in its cloud. From chainsaws to the latest music to new socks to full-length movies, it's all a tap or two away on the Fire HDX's responsive and rich 8.9-inch display. The WiFi-only version starts at $379—just a few dollars shy of the (WiFi only) 7.9-inch Apple iPad mini with Retina display. (Both are super light, at 0.8 pounds.) Enterprise users will be better served going with the iPad. But in households where a tablet is likely to be used by two or three generations of users, the Fire HDX is an excellent option. Its Mayday button—hands down its most impressive feature—offers instant assistance from a live customer service rep on absolutely anything involving the tablet, and a FreeTime app enables parents to set controls and choose content and confidently hand the tablet to young users. Enterprise tablet? Iffy. Family device? Absolutely.  

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

    By Michelle Maisto
    Kindle Fire HDX, True to Amazon, Offers Something for Everyone
  • 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).
    Hands On the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
  • 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.
    Amazon Through and Through
  • 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.
    You Might Like This
  • The Carousel

    Users can also add or remove content—whether embarrassing or sensitive—from the carousel.
    The Carousel
  • 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.
    No Slip, but Plenty of Fingerprints
  • 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.
    Easy Listening
  • 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.
    The Buttons Situation
  • 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.
    Enterprise Device?
  • 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.
    Helpful Work Tools
  • 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.
  • 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.)
    Mayday Can't See You
  • 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.
    Personal Assistance for Any Task
  • 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.
    Family Affair
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.

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