In short, Amazon’s best Kindle Fire is a very attractive and competitively priced tablet, but it suffers from a few major issues, hence another reason why Amazon never announces how many they’ve sold (hint: a number would be embarrassing). What’s wrong?
Fire Not On Fire
When looking at hardware specifications, the Kindle Fire HDX is very good when compared to the iPad Air. It’s smaller than the Air, but also a little lighter.
The Fire has a nice grip feeling on the back, while the naked iPad Air does not (but, most of us have a case, so, moot point).
Buttons are on the back, not on the sides as on the iPad Air. Audio is crisp and loud, much like the iPad Air, but also Dolby, though you’d never know it from the tiny speakers.
One feature both Wil and I like is that the Fire HDX with LTE works on both Verizon and AT&T. The screen is drop dead gorgeous but side-by-side with an iPad Air, there’s little visual difference.
The iPad Air has a screen resolution and aspect ratio which makes it perfectly suited for viewing in both landscape and portrait mode. Not so, the Fire HDX, which feels clumsy by comparison in portrait mode, but displays HD video well in landscape.
Battery life seems longer in the Fire HDX than the iPad, but that’s where the comparisons begin to tell the tale. Battery life is good because the Fire HDX doesn’t do much.
The Killer Features
Apple’s iPad has half a million iPad-ready apps, while the Kindle Fire HDX comes with basics, but selection beyond what is installed is anemic at best, and you’re not likely to find many apps that can sync between tablet, smartphone, and Mac (or Windows PC).
The iPad Air is a device which can be used in thousands of personal settings; TV and movie watching, applications, learning, writing, sharing, and much more. Fire HDX is mostly a consumption device, another ding. Amazon wants you to buy stuff to watch, hence a good reason why Android-based devices don’t get used the way iPads are used.
Finally, Amazon blew their chance to get into retail; you know, brick and mortar stores, by not buying Radio Shack. What better way to show off what the Kindle Fire HDX has that’s competitive with the iPad Air than a retail environment on 4,000 street corners (not to mention how Radio Shack’s retail stores could serve as pick up points for Amazon shipments).
Despite the great hardware and low price, the Fire HDX is just another tablet pretending to be an iPad Air. Lower price. Doesn’t do as much.