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7-inch tablet showdown: Kindle Fire HDX vs. Nexus 7

Florence Ion | Oct. 16, 2013
The Kindle Fire HDX offers superior interface and software/content while the the Nexus 7 offers access to a vast application library

Amazon kept some key Android interface elements, such as the Notifications shade and the Quick settings, for its Kindle tablet UI. If you're currently an Android user, you'll notice plenty of similarities in the menus, too.

The Nexus 7 begins its gadget life as a blank slate. Not until you install apps does it have a purpose. After you link your Google account, you don't have direct access to content, as you do with the Fire HDX's interface. Apps are merely icons on the screen, rather part of the instinctual flow of the interface.

Winner: Kindle Fire HDX. It quickly gets you right to the content you use the most.

Apps and content
Though Amazon has a massive content library, its severe lack of apps put it at a disadvantage. The number of Amazon apps has grown exponentially since its app store opened in 2011, but it's still missing major hits like Instagram and Candy Crush Saga. It also lacks Google's core applications—including YouTube—and though it carries Evernote and Dropbox, among other productivity applications, you won't find Microsoft's One Note or (especially) Google Docs.

You can view content that you buy or add to your Amazon Watchlist on any Kindle tablet device, on your computer, or on your television. And though its content is tied down with DRM, you can stream it to any device that supports the Amazon Video app. A neat second-screen app called X-Ray brings up extra information about the video you're currently watching, without your having to scour IMDB. And for the technologically inept, Amazon offers it Mayday service to connect you via video to live support for any Amazon- or Kindle-related issue you might run into.

The Nexus 7 is a bit like traversing the Wild West with a few prospecting tools and a mule: There's a lot of gold out there, but getting to it is an adventure. The Google Play store has grown significantly over the past two years, and it's now neck-in-neck with Apple's iTunes Store for iOS in total app count. Out of the box you'll get Gmail, Google Chrome, and a family of separate apps for each of the different Play services, including Google Books and Google Music (which offers an All Access monthly subscription service). Though your media is tied to the Android platform, you can use Chromecast (sold separately) to stream video to your television from the Nexus 7, or Miracast to physically tether it.

Winner: Kindle Fire HDX. Though it lacks the Nexus 7's core applications, you can watch your content virtually anywhere and call on Amazon's attentive customer service if you find yourself in dire straits.


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