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Reviews => Device and Accessory Reviews => Kindle Fire HD reviews => Topic started by: Ann in Arlington on October 14, 2013, 06:01:41 am

Title: Kindle Fire HDX 7 -- First Impressions
Post by: Ann in Arlington on October 14, 2013, 06:01:41 am
After several posts in the HDX Fire Watch thread, I thought I’d try to consolidate my thoughts and post them all in one place here in reviews. :)

My Fire HDX7 (16GB) arrived on Saturday the 12th. It came inside a cardboard shipping box. Zipping the strip on the shipping box reveals the Fire in its box inside a plastic sleeve. Given all the rain, lately, that was nice to see. :)

The fire packaging itself is the usual black but, but there is a paper sleeve you slip off that has images of the screen and details about specs. The box inside is basic black with an ‘amazon’ logo in shiny black.

To open the box, you slit the seal at one end of the box, and there's the device. . . .there is a compartment at the top of the box that contains a black USB cord and the charger plug. I took those out, but, having many many cords and chargers I haven’t done anything with them but put them in a safe place.

When you open the box, there is a shiny on flat orange image of the boy under a tree – yes, it’s a kindle. :) The fire itself is in another plastic sleeve with a sticky flap and there's a 'getting to know your kindle’ card that tells you to turn it on and then unlock and go.  Mine arrived with the battery over half full.

The button to turn it on is on the left bezel on back as you hold it horizontally with the camera up. The USB charge port is in the same area – note that when the cord is properly ‘in’ it is not ‘flat’ to the kindle.  Fits snuggly, though.  On the other side are the headphone input and volume buttons. The device is very sleek and light.

First thing you do is choose a language and then it prompts you to connect to a wifi network. You’ll need your password, of course, but setting that up was a breeze. Then it confirms it's registered to you (if it's not you tell it you're not the person it says) and then starts a download process for the 'latest Kindle software.’ It suggests you plug it in at that point to make sure there's plenty of power to complete that.  You can skip that step and do that later if you want.

(It did not automatically install the update, though.  I’m not sure if that’s because I inadvertently stopped the process or not.  But later, going through the menu options, I saw that there was an update to install.  After I did that there were some minor changes – I realized that Silk was now there and the menu bar now showed the ‘mayday’ button. More on that later.)

Next it lets you connect to FB and/or Twitter -- you can skip this step and do it later too.

Now you're at the home, which is configured as the older Fires and before doing anything else you walk through a 'getting started' tutorial.

You still swipe down from the top to get to settings, which is now a gear icon, which is more standard. There are some changes but a lot of what’s available here will be familiar to current Fire users.

Options under settings:
**My account -- pretty much the same. . . . but you can edit your Amazon account via the device.  Don't recall if you could do that before. Can also change country, payment options, and edit social networks.

**Help & Feedback takes you to an interactive guide.  There's a user guide, link to sort out wireless, customer service and feedback contact info.  But front and center is "Amazon Assist" You can video chat if you have questions. There's a 'connect' button that initiates the service.  This is basically the video help, aka “mayday”. For a ‘text chat’ option it directs you to the Amazon website.

**parental controls -- don't see any difference here, but I've never really used 'em. Kindle Free Time comes loaded as an app and it doesn’t look like you can remove it, though, of course, you don’t have to USE it.

**device -- You can toggle to show the battery percentage on or off (by default it’s off; I turned it on), check for updates (or it shows if one has been downloaded and is waiting to be installed), set language, change the text to speech voices (there are boys and girls with English, Aussie or US accents as well as German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Interestingly they specify it's Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish Spanish (vs Mexican etc. I suppose.)
     You also can set the time zone; it pulls the time from your network.  And you can toggle on the automatic debugging which I guess you'd want to do if you were having issues -- then they can help you fix things remotely.  Finally, serial number and the factory reset and storage information

**wireless and networks -- same as before

**applications -- generally same as before

**notifications -- you can turn notifications for various apps on and off. . . . you can also set a 'do not disturb' either based on what you're doing on the Fire or based on a time of day.  That's nice. I’ve set mine to always be quiet between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. 8)

**display and sounds -- set sounds for notifications (though I don't see that you can add your own, there are a lot of choices; it would be nice if you could set different sounds for different things but it appears not), set display brightness (automatic is an option and the brightness slider is still in the home menu bar as well), volume (also physical switches), and this is where you set mirroring so you can see what's on the Fire on your TV or whatever. Oh, and set screen time out – options from 5 minutes to never.

**keyboards -- set language, keyboard settings (auto correct, etc.) There do not seem to be optional keyboards and the new one is very slightly different to the HD.

**accessibility.  There are a bunch of options here -- a screen reader, an explore by touch that tells you audibly what you're touching, a magnifier; you can turn on closed captioning on videos and there are apparently other services you can add.  There's also a User Guide just for the accessibility stuff. More on this later.

**security -- you can set a lock screen password.  You can store credentials and set device administrators -- I think this is more or less android standard stuff.  Not something I’ve bothered much with before except the lock screen password.  As usual, if you forget it, you have to do a factory reset.

**legal -- the usual stuff.

The other options in the top menu are basically the same, though there is a 'do not disturb' option so you can toggle that on and off from there.  That's nice. AFTER the update installed, a ‘Mayday’ button appeared here.  Problem is, that took the ‘sync’ button away.  So now ‘sync’ is the top option in the settings. Not sure that’s better or worse, just different.

By default you will see recommendations as you flip to things on the carousel, but you can turn that off (Under applications/home screen). The reccos are small size thumbnails; if you turn them off you don’t end up with blank space – it all fits nicely on the screen. You also see the first 8 things in your favorites – now called ‘home’ – so that kind of goes back to the original Fire. There’s no star to tap; you just swipe up to show only ‘home screen’ and down to show the carousel with the top few home items.

After some random playing, it definitely feels faster to me...Silk works very much better, I think. Email set up was no prob...as long as you know you server names. If it's a common ISP, those are preset. Gmail and Comcast were pretty automatic. Our personal domain took a little more work – mainly because I had to look at another device to check what settings, ports, etc. were correct. ::)

OK. So, I do not recommend turning on the accessibility features unless you have thoroughly reviewed the controls and/or have another device available so you can figure out how to turn them back off.  The information is on the HDX. Problem was, after turning accessibility on (and there was no ‘are you sure?’), I couldn't get to that page of the help on the HDX! :o Fortunately the touch gestures are similar on the older Fires so I was able to find it there and figure it out. Or, they’re available on Amazon as well: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201303820 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201303820)

Now, I didn’t feel like it worked very well, but a good part of my difficulty was likely caused by my own impatience. ::) Sometimes double tapping, as it says to do to select, worked, and sometimes it didn't.  Hence my frustration.  And when I first turned it on I got into a tutorial that I never did figure out how to navigate out of – even when I slowed down and tried doing what it told me. :(

I ended up turning the device all the way off. When it came back on I used the help on my HD8.9 to work out how to gesture to unlock it and then turn off the accessibility mode. I even had trouble just turning it off!  I held the button until the 'cancel/shut down' screen came but the double tap didn't seem to want to work properly there to actually turn it off.  That's when I just held the button to let it turn off and do a full reboot.

So, I guess, really the only 'trouble' I had was of my own making. ::) I did not thoroughly absorb how to use the device while in 'accessibility' mode.  And, because I CAN see, I wasn't used to following the vocal prompts.  I did feel like the double tap didn't work great, but, again, that could have been my own impatience. :o And, the more I think about it, the more likely it is that the trouble I had with the tutorial stemmed from the same thing.

If you are a person who needs the accessibility options -- I think it's great that they're there.  I have no idea if what they're using is more or less 'standard'. For swiping it mostly wants you to use two fingers as a one finger swipe moves between selectable icons on the screen, and the double tap for selecting. It probably would not be too hard to get used to them if you used them for a few hours. Fortunately, I was able to review the gestures on my other Fire and get myself out of quicksand I walked into with my eyes open. :D

Haven't 'used' the camera, per se, but did try it a bit without actually taking a shot.  It's a front facing only, meaning if you're looking at the screen you're taking a picture of you. It does seem to have a feature where it finds your face. I didn't try to use it to take a picture of anything else.  At some point I’ll play with Skype a bit – assuming I can recall my credentials!

Haven't got the mirroring to work -- where what's on the device can be seen on your TV. . . . I guess we don't have a compatible TV, but we do have a TiVo, which I thought counted, but I could be wrong about that.  Have to look into that more thoroughly.

All in all, after using the device for a full 24 hours (plus) I am VERY PLEASED with it.  It is extremely responsive. The game apps I like work even better. The Silk Browser works very well. The touch screen is sufficiently sensitive that even links in fairly small print were not at all difficult to tap -- a problem I had with previous generation Fires.  I don't anticipate needing an alternative browser at this point.

I also was able to load from Amazon the Xfinity App -- and will be able to use it to watch some missed episodes of a couple of series that got started this season before I got the TiVo "season pass".  

I played some streamed video and music from the web, including You Tube, yesterday and it worked perfectly.  In fact friends at the house commented how good the sound was. (Video wasn’t great, but it was a clip from a Johnny Carson episode from 1974 so. . . . )

I am seriously considering whether I need to keep my Fire HD 8.9 after the 3G plan runs out. . . . . but I also don't really feel the need for a larger screen model of the HDX.  As an example, on Words with Friends, lately there are videos as the ads between moves -- you have to watch 10 seconds or so at least before you can skip 'em.  They are definitely much better on the HDX 7 than they are on the HD 8.9.
Title: Re: Kindle Fire HDX 7 -- First Impressions
Post by: PhilReads on October 15, 2013, 11:40:41 am
Hey Ann,

thanks for this in-depth experience post :-) I would love to see more of these from other people, but only time will tell how good the HDX really is. So far: sounds great  ;D
Title: Re: Kindle Fire HDX 7 -- First Impressions
Post by: Ann in Arlington on October 19, 2013, 06:01:22 am
Still love it, after a week. :D

Have had a chance to play a little more and wanted to mention a couple of things.

I am a Prime member and I tried downloading a video for later 'off line' viewing.  Worked great.  When you go to a prime eligible video, you have the opportunity to just play it -- i.e. stream it -- or download it.  When you choose download, you have a choice of SD or two levels of HD quality. The better the quality the bigger the file and the longer the download will take.  You can watch it WHILE you're downloading.

According to Amazon, a title can only be downloaded to two devices on your account at a time. That's basically the same as having a device limit on most book titles, though of course, there, it's usually 6. Also, you can only download 25 titles at a time to all of the devices on your account. I'll never even come close: the one I tried, a 1 hour Doctor Who episode, on the best quality, takes up a huge amount of memory -- over 4 GB of my 14.5 memory available* -- but if you use lesser quality and have a bigger memory kindle you should be able to fit more -- I'm thinking you'd need to have the 64GB and save at SD to get anywhere close to 25, though.  Or, of course, if you have more than one device, you can have 25 between them.

You have a limited time to watch them. Amazon says, “ A typical viewing period is either 48 hours after you start watching the title or 15 or 30 days after the download, whichever is earlier.” I found, however, that, as long as you're connected, they don't seem to really care on the 48 hours. They count it as streaming.  Because I downloaded it on Wednesday and it's still available to me today, Saturday. BUT, when I turned wifi off and went to watch it, I got a message that said something like "you're beginning your 30 day off line viewing period."  So I'm assuming that on November 18 or so, it will no longer be available to me off line.

If you stop being a Prime member, you will not be able to watch Prime videos…even if you’ve downloaded them. So be aware of that if you're just on your free month of Prime that you get with the Fire Purchase.

I checked a bunch of titles and it seemed like all ones that said 'Prime" were available for download, but I guess they don't all have to be.

Also. . . . some folks are reporting a 'purple fringe' on the screen.  So I went and looked.  When the light is up really bright, and the page is very white, you may see some light 'bleed' around the edges. I actually think it's an 'optical illusion' thing, like when you stare at 4 white squares and then realize you're seeing a dark circle in the center. So I'd say it's not something to worry about. If you use sepia or white on black when reading it's basically not an issue.  I've not been able to find it even when looking on the games I play, and only really noticed it on a couple of web pages that are very white.  If your the sort it's likely to bother, keep the brightness down.

*I have the 16GB HDX.  It appears the OS uses about 1.5 GB.  At least, it's listed as 'miscellaneous' (settings/device/storage) and I can't 'select' it there.  The other types of things I can select and I'm taken to a menu that lets me manage them -- You can, in fact, remove a whole bunch of stuff in one fell swoop this way.
Title: Re: Kindle Fire HDX 7 -- How does It Work
Post by: Hudson Owen on December 14, 2015, 05:40:12 pm

I am looking for someone who can guide me through the setup process.