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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

Winner: Tie. Though the Fire HDX technically has a more powerful processor, both tablets are speedy and responsive.

The Kindle Fire HDX comes with a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera—sufficient for video chatting—but no rear-facing camera. The Google Nexus 7, meanwhile, comes with both a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.

My review of the Nexus 7 noted that the photo quality, while far from pristine, was passable for sharing photos online and snapping quick shots of the mammals in your life doing silly things. Amazon may have considered it an unnecessary feature, but that rear-facing camera can be a real bonus if you're livecasting the family to grandparents far away.

Winner: Nexus 7. It's nice to have rear-camera functionality when you need it.

Battery life
After three days of reading, checking things on the Internet, downloading content, and watching a movie on the train ride home, I finally got a request from the HDX to plug it in. It took about 5 hours of constant video playback to reduce the Kindle HDX's battery life to 50 percent—but even when I left it in my backpack for a few days at a time the HDX didn't burn through much of its battery life.

The Nexus 7 is just as long-lasting, and it can handle almost 9 hours of constant video streaming before it peters out entirely. It managed several days on standby without needing a charge, too. Overall, both devices performed similarly; and if you keep the screen brightness at dim, they'll get through a day of constant usage.

Winner: Tie. The HDX may last a little longer, but  both tablets will hold up for several days of moderate use or a full day of heavy use on a single charge.

Both the Fire HDX and the Nexus 7 use Android, but the former runs a "forked" version of Android, meaning that Amazon has essentially built its own mobile operating system (called Amazon Fire OS 3.0) on Android's original framework. The Nexus 7, on the other hand, runs the latest version Android Jelly Bean, so it will receive updates for the latest base version of Android as long as Google supports it.

Amazon places its own content front and center on the Fire HDX, hoping to constantly tempt you to invest in more stuff. As you scroll through the media carousel, you'll see additional suggestions associated with every book, movie, or music title you've downloaded. The avalanche of buying opportunities can be a little overwhelming at first, but the carousel is also why you might gravitate toward the Kindle for reading and watching. Rather than having to sift through myriad disjointed apps, you can find everything you could possibly want to use a tablet for in one place.


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