Amazon's latest and greatest Android tablet, the Kindle Fire HDX, was described in the press release as being this amazing improvement over last year's model,with a new OS, new software features, a faster CPU, and all around better specs.
My unit arrived on Friday, and now that I have had my hands on it for a couple days I have to wonder if it really is any better than last year's model. I've watched videos, read ebooks, played games, and I have yet to find a good reason to justify the expense of upgrading to a new tablet.
I plan to keep last year's tablet, and continue to happily use it.
The Kindle Fire HDX is a very pretty tablet, and the general hardware design is much improved (aside from the removal of the HDMI port). The power and volume buttons are better placed, the USB port is more convenient, and the new HDX is lighter than last year's Kindle Fire HD.
But for my uses, the actual performance doesn't differ all that much. (And I'm not the only one who thinks that; my competition at The eBook Reader blog agrees with me.) In my opinion the HDX is only minimally more capable as a media tablet than its predecessor. Given that it's not good for much else there's little reason to pay so much for it.
In short, the HDX isn't living up to the hype. And I mean that literally.
When the HDX was announced I was especially interested in the news that the new Mojito OS had productivity enhancements. This sounded like it would be one of the major improvements over Amazon's previous tablets, and that it would move the HDX out of simply being a media tablet.
In fact, Amazon threw around the word "productivity" no less than 4 times in the press release and also said that Fire OS includes the core email and productivity apps". That led me to believe that this would be more than just a media tablet, but it's sadly just not the case.
This tablet shipped with basic email, calendar, and contacts app and that's it. There's no office app, no collaboration tools, no VOIP, no calculator, no video chat, no news reader, no note taking app, nothing. Admittedly, Amazon didn't mention any of these apps but if they're going to throw around the word "productivity" then I am expecting to be able to get some work done.
But that's just not possible.
The HDX is still largely based on the same damned carousel as its predecessor, and like the KFHD it is lacking any way to quickly switch between apps. Regular Android has had a feature like this since 2.3 Gingerbread but it is simply not present on Amazon's tablets.
Update: There is a way to quickly switch between apps. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen (while inside an app) and you'll see a tray of your recent apps, ebooks, and other content. Thanks, Sherri!.
And to make matters, the supposedly improved email client doesn't work. I cannot get it to sync with Gmail, no matter what I do.
Th Kindle Fire HDX is no more and no less a media tablet than its predecessor, and I cannot for the life of me see a significant boost in performance. And that is why I am planning to return my Fire HDX and keep the Kindle Fire HD I bought last year.
Folks, if you are in the market for a new Kindle Fire tablet then I suggest that you save your money and get the Kindle Fire HD (2013). It costs $90 less than the HDX, runs the same software, and looks almost identical.
Unless you want the camera or are into playing CPU-sensitive 3D games then I don't think you will notice the difference.