A few years ago I received a great birthday gift, an original Kindle reader. Since then either my wife or I have owned almost every model of Kindle made. When the original Kindle Fire came out I scooped one up. Oh, well, my bad. I didn’t like it at all. I later sold it back to Amazon but decided to give them another chance and picked up a 7” Kindle Fire HD. It was significantly better. I went from hate to love. It became my mobile computing device of choice. Back in late December, wanting a little more screen real estate, I decided to get a 8.9” Kindle Fire HDX. So, what did I think? Read on.
The larger screen and higher resolution didn’t make as big of a difference with videos and photos as I had expected. Yes, they were better, but it wasn’t a revolutionary change. One the other hand, some of the apps, such as the BBC and Accu-Weather apps, take advantage of the larger screen and are much better than on the 7” HD.
This Kindle HDX is noticeably faster than the HD. I never thought of the HD as slow, but since I’ve been using the HDX the HD now seems to crawl. As a note, the original Fire was painfully slow.
Surprisingly the larger 8.9” HDX is lighter than the 7” HD. The buttons are also, to my hand, more logically laid out. The problem was I would often have trouble getting the power button and would hit one of the volume buttons instead. The HDX fixes that situation. Yes, most covers turn the Kindle on and off when opened or closed, but I still use the button quite a bit. With the speed, larger screen and lightness I find myself using it much more than the HD, which is currently gathering dust.
When I first bought it the battery life seemed pretty short. The first thing I discovered was that it was only charging to 78%. If I unplugged the power and plugged it back in it would get to 100%. After charging it to 100% a few times it started to fully charge on its own every time. It’s possible Amazon pushed out a software fix for I noticed the battery lasts longer in general. The battery life problem was a major complaint so a software fix wouldn’t surprise me. I can now go all week with a couple of hours a day of use or over a long weekend of constant use without worrying about it. After a couple of painful weeks Amazon’s hype that the battery lasts longer on HDX than on the HD is now true, and quite a bit longer at that
All three of the Kindle Fires I’ve used (the original, the HD and the HDX) have/had quirky problems on my home’s network. When in sleep mode they will occasionally lose the Internet connection. They are still connected to the wireless, but not to the Internet. I have to turn the wireless off and then back on. This doesn’t happen on any other wireless network I’ve tried. It also doesn’t happen with other devices such as laptops, Android phones or Kindle readers. I know someone who got rid of their HD because they were having a similar issue with their home network. It doesn’t happen all of the time. In fact, the HDX seems to keep the connection a little better than the HD. When it does happen it takes 20 seconds to fix. Still, it’s annoying.
One point of improvement over the HD is the advertising. On the HD when you are on the home screen you see Amazon’s recommendations for similar apps. This is no longer the case with the HDX. The screen saver is still an ad and you can bring up all of the “special offers” if you want (sometimes there really are good deals).
There are other nice touches. One thing I like is that I can always tell when a new e-mail arrives. I don’t have to check my e-mail unless there’s something new.
One huge negative – the HD had a micro-HDMI port, the HDX does not. One of the reasons I bought the HDX is that you can download Amazon Prime movies and watch them later. Well, what good does that do me if I can’t attach it to my TV the way I could the HD? I have a camp with limited Internet but a good TV. Yes, I can spend 60 bucks and do it wirelessly. (Some TVs can see the Kindle directly but for most you need a product like the NetGear Push2TV)
Other negatives with the whole Kindle Fire line is some of my favorite Android apps are not available. Yes, you can hack into the Kindle and install them. I think it is supposed to be easier on the HDX, though I haven’t tried. Most of the apps are also available as web sites so I just use the Silk browser, which, by the way, works very well.
There are other little things I like. Strangely enough, I like the feel much more than the iPad. I HATE the virtual keyboard on the few iPads I’ve tried, including my wife’s (she still uses a Kindle reader, but an iPad for a tablet). I’ve used the speech recognition a little. It seems to work very well, so keyboard is not a necessity. The HD has one camera which faces the user. I want to do more than take selfies, thank you, so I’m glad the HDX also has a rear camera. I’ve used it a few times and it works well. The onscreen text is pretty good and I do like using it for books with graphics, but I still prefer the Kindle Paperwhite as a reader.
Overall I am very pleased with the purchase. While the HD was, in my opinion, a vast improvement over the original Fire, the HDX is an incremental improvement over the HD. It is a good upgrade but not a necessity.
OK, not the best picture by Trent P. McDonald