First Look: Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HDX lineup

Amazon rolled out new 7-inch and 8.9-inch tablets Wednesday, boasting impressive new screens and software.

Kindle Fire HDX

While the Kindle Fire line began as a bargain-priced alternative to the then-dominant iPad, it has since become a more diverse family of tablet devices. Amazon’s latest refresh, the Kindle Fire HDX, introduces version 3.0 of the Fire OS platform, as well as numerous hardware improvements in both a 7-inch and an 8.9-inch form factor.

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Kindle Fire HDX

Oh, the screen…

At 1920x1200 and 2560x1600 for the 7-inch and 8.9-inch models, respectively, Amazon has substantially bolstered the display quality for its HDX devices. That’s better than 1080p even on the smaller model, for those keeping score at home.

Kindle Fire HDX

Fire OS 3.0 “Mojito”

Amazon’s Android-based operating system has undergone an overhaul, as well, with the addition of enterprise-focused features like better encryption and email support, enhanced cloud connectivity and more besides.

Kindle Fire HDX

The hardware

A powerful Adreno 330, a Snapdragon 800 quad-core, and 2GB of RAM – what’s not to like? The new specs make the HDX competitive with rivals like Samsung’s Galaxy Note line and Google’s Nexus 10.

Kindle Fire HDX

Mayday!

The new Mayday Button, included as part of Fire OS 3.0, instantly initiates a video call with an Amazon tech support worker, who will help with anything the user needs. Pretty impressive, though we could see it leading to many unintentional moments of comedy.

Kindle Fire HDX

More features to come

A raft of further updates to the operating system will be made by the time the device ships, as part of Fire OS 3.1, according to Amazon. These will include Second Screen for streaming video to a TV, an easy archiving option for content users wish to store in the cloud, and Kerberos authentication for secure enterprise intranet connectivity.

Kindle Fire HDX

The nitty-gritty

The 7-inch model of the Kindle Fire HDX will cost $230 ($330 with 4G connectivity), and will ship on October 18 (or Nov. 14 with 4G). The 8.9-incher will sell for $380 ($480) and ship on Nov. 7 (Dec. 10).

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.