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As a piece of hardware, the HDX has the specs to compete. The tablet has an 8.9-inch screen with 2560 by 1600 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 339 ppi. That's nearly unparalleled for a tablet of this size. It has more than 4 million pixels. It goes far beyond the full HD spec, which has just over 2 million pixels. It blows the Apple iPad Mini, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Google Nexus 7 tablets, which have smaller, lower-resolution screens, out of the water. According to Amazon, the HDX screen features dynamic image contrast, which optimizes the color of each pixel based on the amount of surrounding light. The result is better outdoor viewing.
Amazon boasts that the Kindle Fire HDX is a "powerhouse" tablet. It uses a 2.2-GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor from Qualcomm paired with 2 GB of RAM. This is certainly one of today's leading chips. It is also found in devices such as the LG G2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The Snapdragon 800 beats the processors in the iPad Mini, Galaxy Note 8 and Nexus 7 hands down. The HDX also has an Adreno 330 graphics processor for polygon-pushing power.
[ Find out more about the Kindle Fire HDX's Mayday button for summoning technical support: Read Is New Kindle The Future Of Contact Centers? ]
Despite the large screen and zippy processor, Amazon claims the HDX will get about 12 hours of active battery life for surfing the Web, watching videos or listening to music. If used solely for reading, the HDX can achieve 18 hours of battery life. The HDX's battery life claims come in a bit ahead of the competition, which each offer between 8 and 10 hours of active use.
The HDX features two cameras: an 8-megapixel camera on the back with LED flash and a 720p HD video camera on the front. It also offers Dolby Digital Plus, which enhances movie and music audio played back through the device's speakers or through headphones.
Amazon bills the Kindle Fire HDX as a device custom built for entertainment. It offers a wide array of content that can be purchased from Amazon's various cloud services. Customers with Amazon Prime memberships will be able to stream free video, but movies and television shows can also be bought directly via the HDX. Amazon's content store rivals Apple's in scale and is superior to Google's (though Google is catching up quickly). The HDX has just as much access to content as an iPad, Note 8 or Nexus tablet.
It can be used for productivity, as well. For example, the HDX supports Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync for email, and lets users view Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Amazon says it will add wireless printing to the HDX through a software update in the near future, further improving its productivity cred. Last, it supports VPN connections for securely tunneling into corporate networks. Most of today's competing tablets have these same features.
The HDX has one thing the other tablets don't have: Instant access to Amazon's helpdesk. The HDX comes with a dedicated "Mayday" button that connects users to an Amazon expert for free. The expert can then guide users through any features with which they might be experiencing trouble. Mayday is available 24/7, 365 days a year, and Amazon is shooting for a response time of 15 seconds or less.
The HDX is less competitive when it comes to pricing, however. The 8.9-inch tablet starts at $379 for the 16-GB Wi-Fi model. It jumps up to $479 if you add LTE 4G or more storage. The iPad Mini starts at $329 for the 16-GB Wi-Fi model, and the Nexus 7 starts at $229 for the 16-GB Wi-Fi model. The HDX's improved specs make up for the price difference a little bit. Amazon is also offering a 7-inch version of the HDX with similar specs and a $229 price.
The Kindle Fire HDX is slated to arrive Nov. 2, but is already available from for pre-order on Amazon.com. It remains to be seen whether Apple will introduce a higher-resolution version of the iPad Mini before then.