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Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7″ Design Review

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Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX comes close to standing among those champion slates. With its pixel rich screen, speedy guts and compact frame it’s Amazon’s answer to the iPad mini 2 with Retina and the Nexus 7. But instead of being the Jack of all trades you might hope for, it ends up as that cliche device that’s built more for pleasure, and purchasing, than anything else. Followed is the design review of the great Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX7.

The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX is no supermodel, but it is better looking than its predecessor, the brickish Kindle Fire HD. A bit of thickness has been shaved off its frame, giving it a depth of .35 inches, whereas the old HD was .4 inches. It’s still a bit dull looking, especially from the front. The rear is actually more attractive, with subtly shiny black plastic and tapered, sloping edges. It’s built from the same soft touch plastic material as the Kindle Paperwhite. It’s pleasant to hold and grippy without feeling sticky.

It weighs just 10.7 ounces, so it’s light enough to carry day to day without adding much weight to your bag. It’s overall dimensions are 7.3″ x 5″ x .35″ inches, making it easy to hold in one hand, but too large for a pocket. Amazon opted to place the power button and the volume rocker on rear of the HDX. They’re clicky and easy to press, but despite their sunken design, it’s often hard to locate them. We frequently mixed up where they were, especially when holding the HDX in portrait orientation.

The requisite 3.5 mm headphone jack is found on the right side, and a microUSB is on the left. Both do their jobs while keeping cords from trailing over the display. There’s also a front facing camera above the screen, but no camera on the back. Overall, it’s a functional, but less than eye catching design. It looks like something a power tool company would design, a construction worker’s tablet, until you light up that screen. This is one of the places where Amazon’s hardware stands toe to toe with the competition.

The 7-inch LCD display rocks a resolution of 1920 x 1200 and an intense pixel density 323 ppi. Though seven inches isn’t a ton of visual real estate (this is a “mini” tablet, after all), it makes movies look magnificent and keeps text nice and crisp. It’s bright, colorful and among the best tablet displays on the market. When we reviewed the Paperwhite, we bumped up against the limitations of a black and white display when trying to read comics or books with photographs. That’s in no way an issue here, the Kindle Fire HDX makes all your Amazon purchases look incredible. Of course, it’s more draining on the eyes than an e-ink display, but certainly the more versatile device of the two.

ts backlight is a bit less powerful than that of the Nexus 7, but in day to day use that won’t matter much, unless you’re prone to browsing in a completely dark room. We detected only one little flaw, a bit of black shadow along the display’s edge. It’s only visible when reading something with a completely white background like an ebook. Still, it’s a rather disappointing bit of quality control, like the dark spots that appeared on the first Paperwhite, but were gone by the second iteration. Other than those dark spots, it stands among the best tablet displays on the market. Holding it next to a Nexus 7 or any Retina iPad, you’d be hard pressed to notice a difference, so it doesn’t best the competition, but watching a film on an HDX is just as nice as on any high-density 7-inch tablet.

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