Amazon Unleashes New Fire HDX Tablet, and It’s Lighter Than the iPad Air

September 30, 2014 — Anyone who knows me understands that I’m an unabashed fan of Apple gear, but I also appreciate what Amazon has done to turn ebooks into a mainstream reality, starting with its Kindle years ago. Today, Amazon produces one of the few non-Apple tablets that I can recommend, and the new flagship Fire HDX is no exception. It boasts a stunning display, and get this — it’s actually 20 percent lighter than the already crazy light iPad Air.

Amazon is clearly getting serious about producing a competitive tablet experience.

Aside from the tech specs, which I’ll get to, why will an Apple fan acknowledge and even recommend an Amazon tablet? Easy. Amazon’s Amazon Prime ecosystem delivers thousands of free and paid movies and TV shows, and Amazon does a good job of providing clean access to a lot of content.

At the same time, Amazon has been investing in, supporting, and creating new TV shows, and as a creative type myself, I appreciate that effort, too. If you’re an Under the Dome TV series fan, you might know that Amazon’s support might have been the tipping point that brought that Stephen King story to life on your screen.

Like Apple, Amazon isn’t perfect, but if you want a tablet with a rich experience — especially at a competitive price — the Fire HDX should be on your shortlist.

Here’s What’s Cool About the Fire HDX

The Fire HDX has an 8.9-inch screen and is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 805 2.5 GHz processor and an improved graphics processing engine for fluid gaming and video.

It boasts 30 percent more pixels than the iPad’s Retina display, coming in with a pixel density of 339 ppi. Amazon also has taken care to stay close to its roots: The HDX display features Dynamic Light Control, which Amazon says changes the white point of the display based on the ambient light of the surroundings in order to make the page of a Kindle book more closely resemble a piece of paper.

I haven’t yet experienced Dolby Atmos sound, but the Fire HDX supports it. Amazon says the new Fire HDX is the first tablet with Dolby Atmos, which creates a new mobile headphone experience with multidimensional sound that flows above and around you to match what you see on the screen.

Not All Play

Here’s an interesting new addition, too — Amazon has created its own keyboard, the Fire Keyboard, which includes a trackpad. The keyboard connects magnetically to the new Fire HDX 8.9 Origami cover, and the keyboard will be available later in October for $59.99.

Incidentally, Amazon has also improved its Origami cover, which boasts a custom slide feature that lets you expose the rear camera and automatically launch the camera app at the same time. Nice.

Amazon has also created access for accessories, which can come in handy for both entertainment and work purposes. Fire HDX’s microUSB port is used not only for charging, Amazon says, but also to connect Fire HDX to your other devices. With the Amazon HDMI and VGA adapters you can connect Fire HDX to your TV, a computer monitor, or projector. With the Amazon USB adapter you can connect USB flash drives, SD card readers, or a wired keyboard or mouse.

One of my favorite features is support for profiles, which lets different family members get access to their own email, social media accounts, and pages in books and spots in movies or TV shows.

The Fire HDX 8.9 starts at $379, and a 4G version goes for $479. Amazon says the Fire HDX 7.0 will continue to be available and will get the new Fire OS 4 “Sangria” update later this year.

About the author

Chris Maxcer

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I've been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and I still remember the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. I'm a big fan of elegant gear and great tech, but there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. Online I like to call out cool stuff on Wicked Cool Bite and blog with my buddies at Man Makes Fire. To catch me, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at the url of this site.