The newest version of the Kindle Fire from Amazon.com started arriving at homes across the country today, and mine has been here for a few hours now. First thing you notice is that Amazon put some time into packaging this time around. Previous Kindle units have arived in a brown cardboard box with very few frills. This time around we have stamped foil and full color graphics. This is not critical, but it signals that Amazon is taking the fire far more seriously now than they have in the past. A lot of that may be their sales in other retail stores, but I think with the HDX and all of the innovation it brings Amazon is finally where Jeff Bezos and his team always envisioned the Kindle would be: a single digital portal to everything the company offers in terms of entertainment and service.
The Fire HD that we saw last year was a decent Android tablet, but the Fire HDX is lightyears beyond. The polish in this the third version of the KindleOS (now dubbed Mojito) is clear. Add to this the hardware improvements and you start to see just how important this device can be.
When you power the kindle on you are guided through the setup process. This is simplified if you have bought it online from Amazon as the device has already been registered to your Amazon account. As you can see in the background of the picture above, my most recent book downloads are already there waiting for me to start reading once I complete orientation. The wide range of entertainment options available through Amazon's cloud services is very comprehensive, and anything you have ever purchased is available to be downloaded or streamed immediately. With the included PRIME membership you also gain access to free ebook rentals, streaming TV, and movies. If you have never had the PRIME treatment before, this is a wake up call that you do NOT want to let the subscription lapse.
Now the important thing, use. i obviously haven't had it long enough for a comprehensive review, but the speeed and elegance of this tablet is not to be ignored. Sound is crisp, clear, and much louder than before. The enhanced resolution of this model (1920x1200) means it has one of the crispest displays you will find in a tablet of this size. In all there is no way to be disapointed in the hardware.
Many have been critical of the fact that Kindle devices do not have access to the Google Play store, but unless you have already invested money in Google's store I don't think you will miss the "Official" android marketplace. Amazon has built their own OS from the skeleton of Android, it will not resemble any version of the "Official" AndroidOS you have ever seen. However I think that Amazon does one thing better than any other player in this game: they know what their customers want. For the vast majority of Kindle buyers what is wanted (and needed) is something that is easy to use and understand. Add the new live concierge support that the "MayDay" button brings and you have a recipe for great customer experience.
I'll have a full review in a few days, but right now I can't think of anything that I will find that could possibly change my take on this device. If you've been waiting for a new tablet and aren't waiting to see what Apple announces next week, get this one before supply is limited.