Amazon Kindle Fire HDX review:

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 user reviews

The Good Mayday feature; Good screen; Stereo speakers; Fast processor.

The Bad Lack of apps; No downloadable video; Competitors are better.

The Bottom Line This would have walked away with every award going a couple of years ago. But today it's simply outclassed by its competitors.

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6.5 Overall

I'm going to get straight to it -- if you have about £200 to spend on a new tablet, you should probably buy a Nexus 7 rather than this one if you live in the UK. Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX is a lovely piece of hardware hobbled by software that isn't as rich as its competitors, and it has fewer features than the same tablet in the US.

Good technical support

Let's start with the good stuff. One fantastic wheeze is a feature Amazon calls Mayday. This starts a video chat with an Amazon technical support technician -- you talk to them straight down the tablet and they can see a copy of your display on your screen to make it easier to tell them what to do.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX standing
The Kindle Fire HDX is a great piece of hardware, but its software is disappointing.

I tried it out a couple of times and was impressed -- once for a very simple task the agent knew the answer straight away, the second time they didn't, but I wasn't kept waiting long before they found it out. It's hard to know what this will be like once more people are using it, but it seems like a great idea. If you have technophobic relatives that just want a colour e-reader, and you don't want to take the support calls yourself, then this is probably the best tablet around.

Fast hardware

Hardware-wise, the Kindle Fire HDX is good. The screen is excellent -- better than the one on the iPad mini or the Nexus 7, and unlike the previous generation model I reviewed, the menus positively glide, thanks in part to the fast processor inside. Ebook text is very sharp, and unlike the black and white Kindles, you get to see the pictures in colour. One thing worth noting in case it bothers you is that there's no rear camera, although the front one works fine for video calls or selfies.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX side
Text is very sharp and the screen is excellent.

Also good is the sound from the stereo speakers. Put the tablet on a desk while watching a video and you can really hear the stereo effect -- they go pretty loud for built-in speakers.

Customised software

The underlying Kindle Fire HDX software is Android, but Amazon has customised it so much it's almost impossible to recognise. In some ways that's good, as it's a bit easier to use than normal Android. There are lots of clear labels at the top of the screen telling you what to expect, and a carousel on the home screen with your most recent book, app, photo or whatever you last looked at sitting at the front.

What you gain in ease of use, however, you lose in flexibility. Amazon doesn't use the normal Google Play store for apps, instead it has its own app store. Unfortunately that means some apps you can get on a normal Android tablet, you can't get on the Kindle Fire. Of the six games we use in the office to test tablets, for example, only two were available on the Kindle.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX back
Although this isn't a bad product, it's not as good as the competition.

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