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CNET First Look
Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 7 is a smart evolution of its tablet brandWith an improved design, faster performance, a sharp screen, and near-instant customer service, the new Kindle Fire HDX 7 rights nearly every wrong from previous Fire incarnations.
The Kindle Fire HDX 7 is Amazon's new flagship tablet. It costs $229 for 16 gigabytes of storage, $269 for 32 gigabytes and there's a 64-gigabyte option for $309. The HDX is smaller, thinner and lighter in the companies previous 7-incher and has a 1920 by 1200 resolution screen. Both the power button and volume rocker have been moved to the back and all the buttons are easier to find and press compared to the previous Fire, having them on the back takes a little getting used to. Sometimes, when I'm holding the tablet, it's easy to forget whether it's the power or volume that's on the right or left side. I do think it's really comfortable to hold in one hand though, it's well-balanced, light without feeling too airy. There's a micro USB port and a headphone jack but the micro HDMI port from the previous Fire is gone. There's a front-facing camera but no back camera. The new version of the Fire OS is more a refinement over last year's than something completely new. The cursor returns but swiping up from the homescreen now brings up an array of your installed apps. And thanks to the high resolution, all menu items can now fit on the screen at once. The web experience has finally been fixed. Now, feels fast without the bugs and sluggishness that played previous iterations. Also, e-mail and calendar apps have received some small but useful interface improvements. Managing your storage is now a lot easier as items can be found by type and delete it on the fly. And while we're on the subject, 16 gigabytes of storage about 10 gigabyte effectively is fast becoming too small if you wanna store HD content. The 1080p version of the Avengers would not fit on the tablet, even with no additional apps or content installed. I instead had to settle for the 720p or standard def. version. Mayday is Amazon's new customer service feature for Kindle Fire owners. If you're having trouble with something, tap the Mayday button and within 15 seconds, the least as Amazon's goal, a real time video chat window, the customer service rep will appear. -Thank you for using Amazon and [unk] hit your Mayday button. -The rep can't see you but they can take control of the system. You can also draw on it in order to illustrate how to do whatever it is you need to do. It's a pretty cool feature but we'll have to see how well that 15-second response time holds up when thousands are tapping the button daily. X-ray for music lets you sing along accurately to your favorite songs and x-ray trivia is a pretty effective way to learn more about your favorite movies or TV shows. It seems Amazon finally got the horsepower to interface overhead balance just about right. Thanks to the new Snapdragon 800 processor, pages and menus are accessed near immediately. Gaming performance hits about NVIDIA Shield level maybe a bit lower but definitely trumps the new Nexus 7 in frame rate. I think we can safely say that Kindle Fire HDX 7 is a good tablet, with definite improvements in performance and design. Mayday is an intriguing and potentially useful feature but will acquire a lot more feel testing before we can give a final judgment call. There are plenty of other small tweaks and changes I haven't even mentioned and we're still waiting for a few new features to be ready like Goodreads and the video fling feature before we can give them a fair assessment. However, keep checking out my full review at CNET.com to see how things continue to evolve. I'm Eric Franklin and this has been a first look at the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7.