Amazon’s new Kindle Fire comes with a Genius Bar inside it (and a lot more)

Kindle Fire HDX

Check out our review of the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX tablet.

Amazon didn’t hold a press conference to unveil its new Kindle Fire HDX lineup, but it should have. The new tablets have some really cool new features that set them apart from the pack. And they still start at only $230.

Mayday!

Amazon’s new Mayday feature could be one helluva selling point for the Kindle Fire HDX. You and I probably won’t need it, dear reader, because if you’re reading this, you’re far more likely to know tech a little more than your peers. But for your mom, your non-techy friend, and the millions of other people who buy tablets but don’t necessarily know how to make the most of them, this feature could be a godsend. Honestly, it should be something that comes with every phone, tablet, computer, and gadget.

Kindle Fire’s Mayday feature takes Apple’s Genius Bar idea to the next level.

If you pull down the options menu of the HDX, you can see a button that looks like a round life saver (not the candy) with the word “Mayday” on it. Tap this button and a video window will pop up and an Amazon tech support person will answer and help you through your problems 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can see the tech support person, and they can hear, but not see, you. They can help you verbally, draw on your screen, or even take over your tablet (if you let them) to help solve problems. The best news is that it’s completely free. You don’t even have to sign up for Amazon Prime.

We have no idea if, or how well, this service will work, but the idea is fantastic. Not only will it save you some calls for help from your friends and family, it has the potential to really broaden everyone’s knowledge on how to use the Kindle Fire HDX. It takes Apple’s Genius Bar idea to the next level and should really help Amazon build a strong tech support reputation and more loyal customers. It’s also one great reason to choose a Kindle Fire HDX over competing tablets like the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini.

If other manufacturers copy Amazon’s Mayday feature, and it becomes an industry standard, everyone will be better off for it. It’s easy to buy a tablet, but learning how to use it is not always a piece of cake. This is the kind of subtle, but game-changing feature we normally expect out of Apple. It’s great to see Amazon stepping up to the plate.

Offline Prime video viewing

Kindle Fire HDXStreaming video services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are fantastic, but they have a major weakness: you can’t watch video if you aren’t connected to Wi-Fi. Tablets are built to be taken on the move, but most of them only come with Wi-Fi connections, and most of the services we use are reliant on a constant Internet connection. Amazon is the first streaming provider to change the rules.

Owners of the Kindle Fire HDX will be able to download offline copies of any Amazon Prime videos. We’re hoping that this feature will work better than downloading purchased Amazon Instant Video on the iPad (it takes forever), but we applaud it either way. You can keep offline copies of a TV show or movie for up to 30 days. And once you start watching it, you have 48 hours to finish. New Kindle owners will get a month of Amazon Prime for free, which also includes free two-day shipping on select items and Kindle Library Lending – a feature that lets you borrow a book a month for free. Prime costs $79 a year.

For those who wrote off Prime video a while ago, it might be worth checking out again. It has some good exclusive shows like Under the Dome, Downton Abbey, Justified, and many more. There is an Amazon Instant Video app for iPhone and iPad, but not one for Android devices, yet.

Second Screen Video to TV sharing

Chromecast is popular because it’s a cheap way to get video from your phone, tablet, or computer to your TV. Getting your TV to display the Internet programs you want, easily, is one of tech’s biggest challenges today, and Amazon is jumping into the ring. It won’t be available at launch, but soon after, an app called Second Screen will become available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Samsung Smart TVs. Hopefully broader support will come in the future.

Second Screen will let you use your TV as your primary screen for Kindle Fire HDX video, allowing your tablet to be used to see secondary information. A new X-Ray feature connects to IMDB to let you tap characters onscreen to view more information about them and browse what films they’ve been in before. This is reminiscent of how Amazon’s Wii U video app works. It uses the screen in the Wii U GamePad to view actors and show information from IMDB.

Kindle Fire HDX Game

And it looks like it’s finally a fast tablet, too

Though the Kindle Fire HDX and HDX 8.9 will still be hampered by Amazon’s limited Appstore app selection, for the first time, it looks like it will be a fantastic deal at its $230 selling point. Previous Kindle Fire devices have been a little sluggish and underpowered. CEO Jeff Bezos said this is because Amazon isn’t making any profit on the HDX.

“We make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices,” said Bezos in an interview with NBC News.

You can tell. The Fire HDX 7-inch tablet will have a Retina-level 1920 x 1200 pixel screen, 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, Adreno 330 graphics processor, 16GB of internal storage (you can upgrade to 32/64GB), and 2GB of RAM. It’s also 9mm thin, weighs only 12oz, and Amazon claims it will get 11 hours of battery life – better than the iPad.

We look forward to checking out the Kindle Fire HDX when it becomes available on October 18, but if you’re particularly gun-ho already, you can pre-order it now on Amazon.

Deals

Amazon Fire Deals: Tablets, TVs, and TV controllers in stock and ready to ship

Last-minute shoppers, and anyone seeking good deals on Amazon Fire products, are in luck. There's still time to order Fire Tablets, Fire TVs, and Fire media players, Fire CVRs, and Alexa-voice-compatible Fire remotes for Christmas delivery.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (January 2019)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in December 2018 and January 2019, from new original series to classic…
Home Theater

From soundbars to headphones, here are the best last-minute audio deals

Whether you're looking for a great new pair of headphones or a fantastic new soundbar to bolster the sound of your brand-new television, these are the best audio deals to be found this holiday season.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Mobile

Microsoft patent filing shows wearable that mitigates involuntary movements

A patent application from Microsoft has shown the company is looking into using wearable technology to alleviate symptoms from various diseases and disorders that cause involuntary movements.
Mobile

AT&T makes 5G a reality for a dozen U.S. cities, with more to come in 2019

Ready to experience a radical transformation in mobile communication? AT&T is launching mobile 5G in cities across the country over the next few months. Here's everything you need to know about the AT&T 5G rollout.
Mobile

Which smartphone manufacturers won and lost in 2018

As the curtain comes down on 2018, we take a look at the big successes and failures in the smartphone market over the last 12 months. Which phone maker had the best year, and who had a year to forget?
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Product Review

With sapphire glass and analog dials, you'd never know this watch is smart

The world of hybrid smartwatches is getting much larger, and the latest comes from a name with history — New York Standard Watches. In our NYSW GTS Activity Tracker review, we find out what makes this watch special, and why we were so…
Mobile

Scientists have charged a phone and a Fitbit with solar-powered clothes

Scientists from Britain's Nottingham Trent University have discovered a way to incorporate solar panels into clothing, and they've even managed to charge a phone and Fitbit with the energy created.
Mobile

The Lenovo Z5 Pro GT packs the most RAM ever seen in a smartphone

The next generation of smartphones has begun, and it's begun with a bang. The Lenovo Z5 Pro GT comes with the next generation Snapdragon 855 processor, 12GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage.
Mobile

The best iPhone XS Max screen protectors to safeguard that huge display

If you love big screens, then the iPhone XS Max's huge 6.5-inch display is perfect for you. But it won't fare well against concrete. Protect your display with the best iPhone XS Max screen protectors.
Mobile

Fitbit supercharges its smartwatches with its new 3.0 operating system

Fitbit announced a new software update for the Versa and Ionic, called Fitbit OS 3.0. The new OS will allow for things like on-device daily views, as well as 10 new third-party apps on the watch.
Mobile

Google’s Gboard communication app reaches 500 languages in only 2 years

In December 2016, Google launched Gboard with support for an already-impressive 100 languages. Since then, however, Google has added a hefty 400 languages to the software keyboard, bringing the total number to 500.