Monday, October 14, 2013

First Impressions of the new Kindle Fire HDX 7" tablet

Our forum moderator Ann is among the first to receive the new Kindle Fire HDX tablets from Amazon. (Amazon link.)

Here's a summary of her impressions; you can read more details in this KBoards thread.


My Fire HDX7 (16GB) arrived on Saturday the 12th. It came inside a cardboard shipping box. Zipping the strip on the shipping box reveals the Fire in its box inside a plastic sleeve. Given all the rain, lately, that was nice to see.

The fire packaging itself is the usual black but, but there is a paper sleeve you slip off that has images of the screen and details about specs. The box inside is basic black with an ‘amazon’ logo in shiny black.

Mine arrived with the battery over half full.


The button to turn it on is on the left bezel on back as you hold it horizontally with the camera up. The USB charge port is in the same area – note that when the cord is properly ‘in’ it is not ‘flat’ to the kindle. It fits snugly, though.  On the other side are the headphone input and volume buttons. The device is very sleek and light.

First thing you do is choose a language and then it prompts you to connect to a wifi network. You’ll need your password, of course, but setting that up was a breeze. Then it confirms it's registered to you and starts a download process for the 'latest Kindle software.’ It suggests you plug it in at that point to make sure there's plenty of power to complete that.  You can skip that step and do so later if you want.

Next it lets you connect to FB and/or Twitter -- you can skip this step and do it later too.

Now you're at the Home, which is configured as the older Fires and before doing anything else you walk through a 'getting started' tutorial.

You still swipe down from the top to get to settings, which is now the more standard "gear" icon. There are some changes but a lot of what’s available here will be familiar to current Fire users.

Options under settings:
(see link for details)

The other options in the top menu are basically the same, though there is a 'do not disturb' option so you can toggle that on and off from there.  That's nice. AFTER the update installed, a ‘Mayday’ button appeared here.  Problem is, that took the ‘sync’ button away.  So now ‘sync’ is the top option in the settings. Not sure that’s better or worse, just different.

By default you will see recommendations as you flip to things on the carousel, but you can turn that off (Under applications/home screen). The reccos are small size thumbnails; if you turn them off you don’t end up with blank space – it all fits nicely on the screen. You also see the first 8 things in your favorites – now called ‘home’ – so that kind of goes back to the original Fire. There’s no star to tap; you just swipe up to show only ‘home screen’ and down to show the carousel with the top few home items.

After some random playing, it definitely feels faster to me...Silk works very much better, I think. Email set up was no long as you know you server names. If it's a common ISP, those are preset. Gmail and Comcast were pretty automatic. Our personal domain took a little more work – mainly because I had to look at another device to check what settings, ports, etc. were correct.

Accessibility Mode

I do not recommend turning on the accessibility features unless you have thoroughly reviewed the controls and/or have another device available so you can figure out how to turn them back off.  The information is on the HDX. Problem was, after turning accessibility on (and there was no ‘are you sure?’), I couldn't get to that page of the help on the HDX! Fortunately the touch gestures are similar on the older Fires so I was able to find it there and figure it out. Or, they’re available on Amazon as well:

Now, I didn’t feel like it worked very well, but a good part of my difficulty was likely caused by my own impatience. Sometimes double tapping, as it says to do to select, worked, and sometimes it didn't.  And when I first turned it on I got into a tutorial that I never did figure out how to navigate out of – even when I slowed down and tried doing what it told me.

If you are a person who needs the accessibility options -- I think it's great that they're there.  I have no idea if what they're using is more or less 'standard'. For swiping it mostly wants you to use two fingers as a one finger swipe moves between selectable icons on the screen, and the double tap for selecting. It probably would not be too hard to get used to them if you played with them for a few hours.


All in all, after using the device for a full 24 hours (plus) I am VERY PLEASED with it.  It is extremely responsive. The game apps I like work even better. The Silk Browser works very well. The touch screen is sufficiently sensitive that even links in fairly small print were not at all difficult to tap -- a problem I had with previous generation Fires.  I don't anticipate needing an alternative browser at this point.

I played some streamed video and music from the web, including You Tube, yesterday and it worked perfectly.  In fact friends at the house commented how good the sound was.

Link to full forum post

Link to Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7" tablet

1 comment:

  1. Great first impressions! Thanks for sharing them.