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Is Anyone Else Returning Their Kindle Fire HDX?

Amazon’skindle fire hdx 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.

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fjtorres October 20, 2013 um 2:55 pm

You’re talking the 7incher, right?
Went from 1280×800 to full HD.
That’s where the extra power went.
(Short memories: the same thing happened with the iPad line in the 2->3 "upgrade".)

As for "productivity" on iOS and Android, you’ve been around long enough to know better. You need a real multitasking OS and a proper stylus to even begin to think of tablet productivity.
Try the Dell Venue 8Pro. $349.
Still not a TabletPC but you should be able to do some real work. 😉

Nate Hoffelder October 20, 2013 um 3:03 pm

Stock Android has background notifications and the ability to quickly switch between apps. That is close enough to multi-tasking to fake it. And I have used Android tablets as a work tool before – just not one of Amazon’s tablets. So the productivity claim wasn’t as unlikely as you make it sound.

fjtorres October 20, 2013 um 5:40 pm

People faked it on Macintoshes for years, pretending task switching was multitasking.
But that was in the 80’s.
One would hope for better than context switching tricks in a 21st Century OS. And since Linux is pretty good at multitasking the onus falls on Google for crippling the product at the higher levels.

Mary Burkey October 20, 2013 um 5:08 pm

I’m returning the HDX, and keeping last year’s HD. The top reasons for me are the annoying blue glow around the edges of the display – not apparent in most media modes, but horrible when reading, plus the fact that the speakers aren’t as loud on the HDX as on the HD. The upgrades to display & response time just didn’t outweigh those two factors, especially when combined with the reasons you’ve stated above.

Sherri October 20, 2013 um 7:08 pm

I’ve got the 7″ HDX, and it sure looks like it’s got app switching to me. If I swipe up from the bottom while running an app, I get a ribbon at the bottom of other apps to switch to, just like on iOS. My previous Kindle Fire (the 8.9″ model) doesn’t do that.

Nate Hoffelder October 20, 2013 um 7:22 pm

Cool! I missed that. Thanks!

David H. Rothman October 20, 2013 um 7:22 pm

A very individual decision, Nate and Mary. If you cherish the improved TTS voices and the higher res, as I do, then the new line makes sense. And for first-time buyers who can live with Amazon’s excessively proprietary approach, the HDX makes even more sense. Not the greatest for email or Web browsing or productivity in general, but awesome for books and movies. Mary, you might check with tech support about the glow. It isn’t bothersome on my unit, at least not for me. The glow is more white or gray than blue, actually, on my Fire. Some further thoughts on the HDX, including user tips, are at

The new Kindle I got rid of, via eBay, was the just-released Paperwhite. I was prepared to tolerate the continued lack of TTS, but the screen just was not that much better. The touch responsiveness hadn’t improved sufficiently, either.


Nate Hoffelder October 20, 2013 um 7:38 pm

Is there something better than Ivona? Because that’s what I have on my KFHD.

David H. Rothman October 20, 2013 um 9:08 pm

The "Peter" voice of Acapela. Still, the current HDX selections are huge improvements over the childish "Salli." Try the Ivona’s Amy voice, a Brit-accented selection like "Peter." You may need to change the language setting to UK English.

Michael Anderson October 21, 2013 um 2:23 pm

Well, I for one am keeping mine. I knew what I was expecting – the speed and display of the Nexus 7 with better audio and improved Amazon-centric features. And that is exactly what I got.

The HDX is clearly faster than the 2012 KFHD (and the iPad Mini, BTW) – launching is instantaneous, gaming is MUCH improved, visuals look much better as well. I was disappointed when I learned that the sound wasn’t as loud, but that didn’t cause me to cancel my order.

The Origami stand is OK, glad I got the cheaper version because I don’t think paying more is worth it.

I still think that the 7″ 1900×1200 screen is too small for productivity – feels much more cramped than the iPad Mini.

My biggest thing – it is a reminder of how far behind the Android versions of so many apps are compared to iOS. Ugh!

Nate Hoffelder October 21, 2013 um 2:52 pm

"I still think that the 7? 1900×1200 screen is too small for productivity – feels much more cramped than the iPad Mini."

I think Samsung agrees with you; this could be why there is a Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 but no 7″ model.

Finchy74 November 8, 2013 um 3:45 pm

Hi, Nate. While I completely understand your disappointment at the lack of productivity improvements, I’m more than a little bit surprised that you don’t notice a difference in performance.

I’ve been using the 7″ HDX for three days now and I’ve been extremely pleased with the improvement in performance over the HD. Actually, I’ll go a step further and say that the performance improvement is probably at the top of my list of favorite improvements made over the HD and it’s not a short list.

I’m especially puzzled given the well documented performance increases in both the Android OS after Project Butter and the SnapDragon 800’s advantage over the OMAP4 4470.

I’ve seen a huge difference in the general snappiness of the OS and more importantly, I can have the maximum number of tabs open in Silk without the HDX getting bogged down at all; Something I cannot say about the HD.

Fire OS 3.1 Update Adds Goodreads and More – The Digital Reader November 18, 2013 um 3:04 pm

[…] I first got my hands on the Kindle Fire DX last month I was disappointed in the device and didn’t see a reason to upgrade from my Kindle Fire HD. […]

Shawny December 6, 2013 um 10:51 pm

The solution to the crappy interface and pretty much everything on the kindle fire is just rooting it!!!!!!! I have completely turned my kindle fire into a android tablet with google playstore and everything!!!!!

Brandon December 30, 2013 um 12:21 pm

I read your review and wanted to let you know that there is an office application actually built into the kindle but was not be noticeable that it was there unless a document, spreadsheet, or presentation was saved to the Kindle.Most everything else as far as the apps that you mentioned I found are very easy to access and are available free via the built in appstore. Also, I agree at first I missed the micro HDMI port, at first, then I discovered the display mirroring which I found to be my favorite feature which let me accomplish what I got with the cord before completely wireless. I hope you find this information helpful because just to be honest I have never really done reviews or even commented on one before, so thank you for taking the time to read this.

Nate Hoffelder December 30, 2013 um 2:37 pm

So basically the app is only accessible if you already have the content? Given that it prevents users from creating new stuff that really doesn’t sound very "productive".

Ashley January 8, 2014 um 8:22 pm

What about Kingsoft Office for Android? It came on my KFHD (2012) so I was glad to see it was on my Kindle Fire HDX. There were also other preloaded apps; I know they’re not productivity apps but you really make it sound like nothing came on it but those three apps which is misleading to people who might want to upgrade to or buy one.

Whateveragain January 8, 2014 um 9:08 pm

Tablets are handy for a bit of work when you’re on the road, but they’re not good at 'productivity.'

sigh January 13, 2014 um 5:44 am

I guess anyone with a basic grasp of the language fancies themselves valid, despite having no valid knowledge. Stick to your element, because most of your readers.are seething at the painful inaccuracies in this 'articl e'.

sigh January 13, 2014 um 5:49 am

Btw, do you not realize that the HDX is equipped with the BEST cup/gpu in production? To get the same performance in any other tablet prepare to fork out 2-3 times the price of the HDX.

This device is easily the best bang for back and among the top few performing tablets currently in the world. If you miss google play store it’s fairly install.

Nate Hoffelder January 13, 2014 um 7:52 am

It might have a CPU/GPU spec that is more powerful on paper, but I don’t do anything that is sufficiently graphics-intensive to require the full abilities of the more powerful CPU/GPU. I stream video and I play a few basic games, and the KFHD is more than capable of meeting my needs.

And just to be clear, you’re arguing with someone who actually likes budget tablets, and who is still using tablets for the same purposes he was 2 years ago. Now that the "underpowered" budget tablets are twice or three times as powerful the premium tablets from 2 years ago, the junk at the bottom of the market is quite usable.

Ken LaVoie January 15, 2014 um 8:12 am


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