I’ve been testing the Fire HDX, and it’s a good, basic color tablet. This latest model, which starts at $229 for the 7-inch-screen version I used, is a definite improvement on last year’s Fire HD, which started at $199 for the 7-inch version. (There’s also a costlier, larger HDX version, with an 8.9-inch screen.)
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However, the 7-inch Fire HDX, like its predecessor, still isn’t as versatile or full-featured as rival tablets, like Apple’s iPad mini or Google’s Nexus 7. It offers only a fraction of the third-party apps available from the Apple or Google app stores. Among the missing are such popular offerings as Instagram, Dropbox, Google Maps, YouTube and Netflix (Amazon says a Netflix app is coming soon).
The Fire HDX has a new operating system and some cool new features. The home screen still has a carousel to show recently used apps, songs, books and videos, but below that there’s now a standard grid of icons for favorite apps and you can hide the carousel if you find it distracting. There’s also a new sidebar for quickly switching among running apps. This appears when you swipe from the edge of the screen.
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Perhaps my favorite new feature is called X-Ray for Music, which shows synchronized lyrics to the song you’re playing. So far, it’s only available on “tens of thousands” of Amazon’s 25 million songs, starting with the newest and most popular. But I found scattered cases in songs going back to the 1970s and enjoyed using it.
A better help system isn’t exactly the prime reason to buy a new tablet. After all, tablets are supposed to be simple and easy to figure out. But Mayday is consistent with Amazon’s long, well-earned reputation for customer support.
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