Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 review

Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire excels at one thing: Amazon

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7
The smaller version of the new HDX family tested

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What do we make of the Kindle Fire HDX? If you've read the review then you know. If not, or if you just want it all in summed up nice and neat, allow us to give you the long and short of it.

We liked

This is excellent hardware overall thanks to powerful internals. A 2.2GHz quad-core backed by 2GB of RAM makes for a powerful, responsive tablet. Menus fly, loading times zip by and there's just very little waiting overall.

The 1920 x 1200 323 ppi screen is excellent for watching movies reading bright, colorful comics and magazines, or displaying brilliant websites such as TechRadar.

The battery life is absolutely on par with the competition. Those who push will still see more than a day of use off a single charge, and those who are light on it will plug it in only once or twice a week.

It's also a excellent portal to Amazon's world of stuff. Be it music, movies, books or physical purchases, Amazon puts it all at your fingertips and the selection is second to none.

Plus, many of the digital purchases you make can be accessed on your TV, or on other, none Kindle brand devices. There are also big benefits for Prime members, most in the streaming video and Kindle Lending Library department.

X-Ray for Video and Books is a fantastic feature. It's like having your own Cliff's Notes generator or geeky friend right at your side.

We're relieved that Amazon's hasn't stonewalled the competition when it comes to streaming media. All the essentials, such as Netflix, Spotify and others are present and accounted for.

Mayday is among the best customer service experiences we've ever had, and the shortest we've ever waited for help. It's a feature that every hardware manufacturer could benefit from.

Amazon's interface is fast and gloriously simple. It's perfect for those who want a no frills, get-me-to-my-content experience.

Finally, Amazon's Origami case, while expensive, is truly excellent. It's protective, useful since it doubles as a stand, and just plain fun to use. We'd say it's worth the money.

We disliked

The selection of apps, primarily games and productivity software, lags behind iOS and Android. Make no mistake, there are good games here, and the HDX plays them very well, but they're dated, and some popular entries are notably absent.

The overall the design of the tablet is a bit dull and utilitarian. While it's on par with Nexus tablet, it's well below that of an iPad.

While the display us sharp for video and colourful things, there are visible dark spots on the edge when reading off a white background. It's not a deal breaker, but it's a flaw that really shouldn't be there.

While we loved Silk's Reading Mode, it's a second rate browser overall. It might be peppy, but so are all mobile browsers. It can't match the mobile to PC connectivity of Safari or Chrome, and there aren't any great third-party options.

While simplicity is nice, the Fire's UI feels awfully stripped down and impersonal if you're coming from Android, iOS or a Windows platform. Also, it's pretty lame how little info is available in the notification center, or on the lock screen, even when those ads have been removed.

Finally, it's really a pity UK Prime Members can't download the videos they're entitled to, like their American counterparts can. It's probably some kind of licensing nightmare Amazon is wading through, but it merits a mention. Their also needs to be some kind of division between Prime videos that can be downloaded, and those that cannot.

Final verdict

For the right kind of customer, the Kindle Fire HDX is the perfect tablet. And who is that customer? Someone who doesn't want to much more than consume content on their tablet.

For the customisation you give up, you gain simplicity and ease of use. We'd like to call this the sort of tablet you give to someone who is less than tech savvy, but those devices don't usually have such good hardware. There's not single junk part on the Kindle Fire HDX that'll spoil your experience with all of Amazon's rich content. Features like X-Ray for movies, downloadable Prime videos and Mayday will have the most ardent Nexus fan feeling rather jealous.

If you're a Prime subscriber, or heavily invested in Amazon's ecosystem, the Kindle Fire HDX is a smart purchase. For those who want a little more functionality, reach for a Nexus 7, and for those with deeper pockets, consider an Apple tablet.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.