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Kindle Fire HDX Review and iPad vs Kindle Fire Comparison – 4 Specs That Matter Most

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX ReviewAs far as the operating system (OS) is concerned, there are 3 types of tablets: (i) those that run on Apple/iOS (e.g. iPads), (ii) those that run on Android (e.g. Kindle Fire and Nexus), and (iii) those that run on windows (Microsoft Surface). A recent study conducted by Localytics revealed that over 55% of the Android tablet users in the USA are Kindle Fire users. As shown on the chart below, the Google Nexus got a even lower position than the Nook HD (by Barnes and Noble) and Samsung Galaxy tablets. The big question is, “Did 33% of global users or 55% of American android users get it wrong?” With this Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Review, let us look at both its Pros and Cons and find an answer to that question.

Android Tablet Usage

Kindle Fire is the the most used Android Tablet – image credits Localytics

4 Specs that matter MOST on the Kindle Fire HDX and iPad

There are a ton of specs you could look at. But at the end of the day, not all of it matters. So what actually matters most?

  1. The price matters
  2. The display quality matters
  3. The processor/RAM matters
  4. The content eco-system matters – quantity, quality, price


Sunday Evening December 1st UPDATE: (EXPIRED as of December 3rd, 2013)

Early Cyber Monday Deal Alert

3rd generation 7″ Kindle Fire HDX and 3rd generation Kindle Fire HD 7″ models have received $50 price cuts – SUPER HOT!

The HDX is ‘Beyond’ HD with a 1920×1200 pixel, 323 ppi pixel density; has a 2.2 GHz quad-core processor

The HD model on sale is also high def, but not ‘beyond’ :) (1280×800/216 ppi), has a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor (the latest iPad Air has a 1.4GHz dual-core processor; however 2 processors should not be compared by those simple specs, just giving the figures to tell you that 1.5GHz isn’t crappy, although the 2.2 GHz quad-core of the HDX makes it sound ‘trashy’!. If you’re interested in this budget model, you also need to know that it does NOT have a camera. That’s how Amazon has cut down on the price.


Update over, back to the article!

The Price Comparison

Kindle Fire HDX vs iPad Price Comparison

Kindle Fire HDX vs iPad Price Comparison – Click to Enlarge

As you will agree, the Kindle Fire HDX is much cheaper than the Apple iPads. The 16GB Wi Fi only model is $170 cheaper than the iPad Mini while the 64GB Wi Fi + 4G LTE model is $320 cheaper than the complimentary iPad Mini with Retina display. As the table above shows, the 8.9″ Kindle Fire HDX is also up to $250 cheaper than the iPad Air. In fact, the 8.9″ Kindle Fire HDX is even cheaper than the iPad Mini.

Winner: Kindle Fire HDX

Side Note: There is another VERY good tablet from ASUS with Rave Reviews which is very cheap yet, has very good tech specs. It’s certainly worth looking at. It has a quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, HD screen, 10 point-multi-touch panel, front and rear (5MP) cameras etc. etc. Read the full specs here.

The Resolution Comparison

Screen resolution comparison of the Kindle Fire HDX, iPad Mini and iPad Air

Screen resolution comparison – Click to Enlarge

Here’s a multiple choice question for you:

The 5th generation iPad, the iPad Air, has the same pixel density (264ppi) as the 4th generation iPad with Retina display. Why didn’t Apple upgrade the pixel density/resolution of the latest iPad Air?

  1. Because extra pixels make it heavy and had they increased the resolution, they wouldn’t be able to name it iPad “Air”
  2. Because they couldn’t bother
  3. Because it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference

Yup, you guessed it right. Once it reaches a particular level of resolution, no matter how much you increase it, the average untrained human eye cannot appreciate that improvement. So why bother improve it just so that the specs look impressive? This is not 100% completely true because with tablets and phones you can zoom in and when you zoom in, higher pixels densities matter. But you’re not going to zoom in when you watch movies or when you play games. So, Apple would have decided that 264ppi is plenty.

In summary, as clearly shown by the table above, the PPIs look more or less the same. On paper, 339 ppi of the 8.9″ HDX looks significantly higher than the 264 ppi of the iPad Air, but in reality, it’s not a big deal. So we’re going to call it even… as far as pixel density goes.

Winner: It’s a tie, both are superb, can’t get any better!

Did you know that there is a device with 388 ppi, 3GB RAM, 2.3 GHz quad-core processor, and a 13MP rear camera? What is it? Take a guess… and click here to see if you got the answer right.
Prime instant video screenshot

The display is NOT only about the pixel density/resolution

This is where a lot of iPad reviews and Kindle Fire reviews get it wrong, There are many aspects to the picture quality in addition to the resolution such as Color accuracy, contrast accuracy, display calibration, reflection/glare, maximum brightness, contrast ratio, color temperature, color gamut, color error etc. etc. The only reason I know is because Displaymate Technologies who are “devoted to the calibration, testing, evaluation and optimization of displays, monitors, projectors, HDTVs, mobile devices and display technology”, generally considered the authority of evaluating display quality, tested and compared these parameters on the 7″ Kindle Fire HDX vs iPad Mini vs Google Nexus 7 in one comparison and 8.9″ Kindle Fire HDX vs iPad Air vs Google Nexus 10 in another comparison.

What did they conclude?

That the Kindle Fire HDX display was the BEST tablet display they have ever tested. On the smaller tablet comparison, the iPad Mini with Retina Display came out last behind both the Kindle and the Nexus 7.

Winner: Kindle Fire HDX

Processor/RAM Comparison

Processor and RAM Comparison

Processor and RAM Comparison – Click to Enlarge

Anybody that tells you that processor performance can be evaluated by looking at a spec comparison, is lying. There are many ‘benchmark’ tests that need to be done to compare the actual performance of tablet processors. Given the very recent release of these tablets, such comprehensive tests have not been done yet. Two places to keep an eye for such tests are Anandtech and CPUBoss. Based on the GeekBench and some other specs I can’t understand, CPUBoss concluded that “CPUBoss is not aware of any important advantages of the Apple A7 vs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800″

Winner: On paper, the Kindle Fire HDX wins. But not known at a performance level yet. If the Kindle Fire, with twice as many cores and twice as much RAM, doesn’t turn up to be the winner, that will be very surprising.

Food for thought: Can you justify spending an extra $200 for an iPad whose display and processing power are inferior to those of the Kindle Fire?

Do you know the differences between the different Kindles? The 3rd generation $139 Kindle Fire HD vs $229 HDX etc. etc.? This table does a pretty good comparison. For example, the $139 Kindle Fire HD doesn’t have a camera. Not everybody needs a camera, so why pay for one? It’s simple logic!

Content eco-system comparison

Given the variety of parameters that need to be compared to get an accurate answer, it’s difficult to do a comparison with a simple table like we’ve shown for price, resolution and processor performance. A proper comparison should look at

  1. Both quantity and quality of Music, Video (TV shows and movies), Ebooks and Apps
  2. How cheap/expensive they are
  3. Whether they can be accessed on different platforms or not etc. etc.

What’s are the known differences between the Amazon Digital Store and Apple iTunes Store?

Not much!

Assume two different book shops having 28 million books and 25 million books. You want to know which library has better books in terms of quality and price. You CANNOT take 100 random books from each library and come to conclusion that library A is better than library B. For such a comparison to have any scientific validity, you need to look at a much larger sample. To-date, no such comparison has been done comparing the Amazon Digital Store and Apple iTunes Store.

The comparisons that have been done has looked at a few samples, like few 100s of music albums, 400 apps etc. Below we summarize what’s known based on these small tests.

  1. iTunes library is bigger than the Amazon digital store. The margins are relatively small or negligible when it comes to number of MP3, number of movies, number of Ebooks etc. However, the difference is considerable when it comes to the App store. Apple just surpassed 1 million apps (doesn’t mean all of them are good – a lot is ‘fart apps’) while Amazon still hovers around 100,000. That’s a big difference. But Kindle Fire fans will tell you that Amazon’s Android app store has almost all the essential apps while the Apple fan boys will come up with dozens of ‘important’ apps Amazon doesn’t have. At least purely on a numbers basis, Apple wins this point. Take a look at the over 25 different categories of Amazon apps available on this page and get an idea about the quality/kind of apps available on Amazon.
  2. Amazon is generally cheaper than iTunes for music1, movies2, ebooks3 as well as apps4. We didn’t just pull it out of thin air. Various studies have shown this and we have included the references on the above superscript numbers. However, it’s not like every single music album is cheaper on Amazon. It’s more like, if you compare 100 music albums, 10 will be cheaper on Amazon while 3 will be cheaper on iTunes. Don’t take anybody’s word for it. Go to Amazon Instant Video and iTunes Videos and compare the prices your-self. While you’re there, also check out these $1.99 rentals and get an idea of the kind of movies that are available for cheap.
  3. Apple content can only be watched on Apple devices like the iPads, iPhones, iPods, Apple TV etc. In contrast, Amazon content is compatible with Apple devices, Android devices, many Blue ray players, Smart TVs, Xbox 360 etc. etc. thanks to the Kindle App!
  4. Amazon Prime makes content even more cheaper - it’s basically like you getting access to an unlimited amount of content for a flat fee and free 2 day shipping for millions of items when you shop on Amazon. Apple has nothing even remotely close to that. Amazon Prime further adds to the savings in the long run. See if you qualify for the 3 month FREE TRIAL or 50% off Prime membership (conditions apply, not everybody qualifies).

Winner: Size-wise, Apple; Price-wise, Amazon. In the long run, these little savings of $1/movie $1/music album accumulate. The more you watch/read/listen/play, the more you save with the Kindle Fire!

And the overall winner is…

  1. Price - Kindle Fire HDX wins by 100s of dollars
  2. Display - Again, the Kindle Fire HDX wins according to professional display-quality evaluators
  3. Processing power – on paper, the Kindle Fire wins. Based on the few benchmarks available, it still wins. However, more comprehensive performance tests have not been carried out yet
  4. Content eco-system – Apple wins based on size and Amazon wins based on price

Bottom line

“As we have shown above, the Kindle Fire HDX is better than the iPad in many aspects. However, regardless of how good the Kindle Fire is compared to the iPad, one thing will always be against the Kindle Fire: that it’s NOT an Apple product. A Wall Street CEO will NEVER carry a Kindle Fire to a company meeting. But we’re not all CEOs, we don’t NEED an iPad for the simple tasks we use a tablet for. A lot of us don’t do complex mathematics or fine arts on our tablet computers. We use them for email, web browsing, watching a movie while on a bus/plane, reading an ebook, listening to an audio book, playing the odd game on our way home on the train, solving a puzzle, doing some Sudoku, organizing our daily calendar etc. You don’t need to spend an extra $200 on a premium iPad to do those little things.”

This is surely not the most comprehensive review of the Kindle Fire HDX tablet or the Kindle Fire vs iPad comparison you’ll see on the web. However, we think this is a very practical review and comparison. If you think so too, don’t forget to spread/share the news!


Angry Birds on Kindle Fire HDX

Screenshot of Angry birds – click to enlarge


1 Comment for “Kindle Fire HDX Review and iPad vs Kindle Fire Comparison – 4 Specs That Matter Most”

  1. Comments on the sound quality? Dolby has done a special write-up on their website on the Kindle’s sound. I think it may come out a winner there too….

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