This is what the Kindle Fire HDX is all about, hooking you up with a slew of entertainment options, all at a competitive price. Amazon's selection of books, movies and music is second to none, and it's built some great players that create a unique experience, available only on its Kindle Fire devices.
Amazon has thousands of movies on demand, for rent or purchase, at prices that won't be beat by iTunes, the Play Store or Xbox Movies. That's not to say that they're cheaper, but you can click away, assured that you won't be overpaying.
To help sweeten the deal, a digital purchase you make on your Fire will be playable on your TV, through a game console, Roku or other set top box with Amazon functionality. You can also watch them through your PC, or on an iOS devices. There's no Android streaming option though, as Amazon would surely rather you invest in one of its tablets, not Google's.
Once you've made a purchase on the Amazon marketplace, you have the option to watch it via streaming, or download it to your tablet for offline viewing. The option to download is a godsend, it'll save you loads on your data plan, if you opted for an LTE Fire, and prevents playback from being interrupted as you commute. While you can stream Amazon movies on a lot of devices, being able to download ahead of time is being kept as a Kindle Fire exclusive. Wise move Amazon, wise move.
American Amazon Prime subscribers get the added bonus of having the majority of Prime Instant Videos available to stream, or download. These downloaded files can only be kept for 48 hours, but it's a great way to get the most from a service you've already bought into.
UK Prime members are left out in the cold in this one, as Amazon has not yet made this service available in all regions yet. Also, their are a number of Prime videos that can't be downloaded, and there's no way to sort the videos to see which have this feature locked out. It's small percentage of the videos, but some of the best new releases, such as Skyfall, are not available for local viewing,
As we've mentioned, movies look fantastic on the Kindle Fire HDX's screen. Colors are bright and true, and the speakers provide quality sound that isn't the loudest, but won't get tinny or distorted. Also, get some headphones. You're the only one on the bus who wants to watch Duck Dynasty. Trust us.
X-Ray for Movies & TV by IMDb
Amazon's X-Ray is the ultimate solution for the "where do I know that guy from" movie watching dilemma. Available with one touch as a sidebar, it keeps info like the cast, director and writer at the ready, for all your trivia pursuing needs.
It's so precise, it's downright spooky. It doesn't just give a static listing of actors, it changes scene to scene, letting you choose between just the actors currently on the screen, or the full cast. It's a movie nerd's dream, and a sure fire to get very good at six degrees of Kevin Bacon.
All the info comes from IMDb, so it's accurate and well laid out. It's easy to jump to the IMDb site or app, in case you'd like to know more. It's also very easy to ignore, should you care to, you know, actually watch the movie you paid for.
Amazon's music selection is more than ample. From brand new releases to stuff from the vinyl era, only the most eclectic indie rock nerds will find gaps in Amazon's library.
Just like movies, songs and albums can be streamed or downloaded directly to your Fire. Also, should be the type that still buys physical media, Amazon is now offering complimentary digital access to any CD you've bought from them, past or future. Basically, if you buy a CD from Amazon, you also own it in the cloud.
For music, Amazon's speakers are decent. There's not much bass, this is a tablet after all, and any music aficionado will surely be using headphones. However, the sound has decent fidelity, not cracking or distorting, and you'll likely prop your tablet up to play a song or two for friends, if nothing else.
This where the lack of lock screen controls are a real bummer. We personally like to bring a tablet with us through the house as we do chores. On an Android or iOS device, you can simply wake the device and tap pause or skip a track, right on the lock screen. On a Kindle Fire HDX, it's a bit more hidden. You'll have to actually unlock the device to reach those controls. It may seem like a little nitpick, but we were surprised with how often it annoyed us. You can control playback from the notification shade though, so at least you don't have to stay in the music app.
X-Ray for Music
X-Ray for music works a lot like X-Ray for movies, only without a public database like IMDb, it's not as deep. The best feature it offers is live, scrolling lyrics to accompany music playback. It's an excellent way to pin down just what your favorite singer is screaming, or host your own weird little one person karaoke party - we need to get out more.
Other than a few band photos, a little album art and links to buy more tracks by that artist, there's not much meat to it. We wish X-Ray for Music went deeper, offering the sort of info that liner notes give. It could at least credit a producer and give music nerds something to chew on.
Selling books was how Amazon got its start and it's still king is this respect. It has an unbeatable selection and great prices. Even though Apple's iBooks comes close, that fact that you can read a book you bought on Amazon through the Kindle app on iOS, Android and Windows platforms makes it the more open platform and a more sound investment.
Just like Movies and Music, books on your Kindle Fire HDX are divided between those on the device and all your purchases stored on the cloud. There's also easy switching between your library and Amazon's storefront. Graphic novels and comics are tucked in here too.
Once again Prime Members get an extra benefit here, in the form of the Kindle Lending Library. It's a smattering of books from which Primers can check out one title per month, at no extra charge. These can only be read on Kindle devices, no third-party app access here, so it's another way Amazon is pied pipering you onto its hardware.
The selection is rather hit or miss. We can't see customers dropping in to see what's free to often, but there are some big names in here, like all the Harry Potter and Hunger Games books. It's at its best when you search for a title to buy, only to realise that you're already entitled to it.
Reading ebooks on the HDX is good, just as good as on any high density tablet display, except for those annoying dark shadows at the edge of the display. Again, it's not experience ruining , just a vexing flaw.
Other than that, it's just as good as a Nexus 7, or any tablet with a backlight. Something like the Paperwhite is easier on the eyes and always preferable, but the HDX is the more versatile device. It does much better work with images, making it a better choice for comics, illustration heavy books, magazines, basically anything other than straight text.
X-Ray for Books
Where did that character come from again? Before it came to movies, X-Ray was originally created to help readers keep track of names in dense novels and it's still an excellent feature.
It's one that Amazon has saved for its own products. You can't access X-Ray on the Kindle app found on other platforms, and it's the main reason why it's worth ignoring those dark spots on the display and reading on an HDX.
For a book with a mammoth cast like Game of Thrones, or for the Literature students struggling to remember who the heck Mercutio is, or why Jake Barnes dislikes Robert Cohn so much, it's another world beating feature for Amazon. It's like every book comes with its own little Cliff's notes.
X-Ray isn't available on every book, and there is some drop off in quality on certain titles. It's easy to tell which X-Ray indexes have been written by a human being, and which have been aggregated by online sources. The former are generally more concise, and free from spoilers. Still, it's an excellent option to have at a touch, no matter what.