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Kindle Fire HDX For Dummies
By Nancy C. Muir
John Wiley & SonsCopyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
All rights reserved.
Overview of the Kindle Fire HDX
In This Chapter
* Comparing Kindle Fire HDX to the competition
* Surveying all of the Kindle Fire HDX's features
Let's start at the beginning. A tablet is a handheld computer with a touchscreen and an onscreen keyboard for providing input, and with apps that allow you to play games, read e-books, check e-mail, browse the web, watch movies, listen to music, and more.
Amazon, the giant online retailer, just happens to have access to more content (music, movies, audio books, and so on) than just about anybody on the planet. So, when an Amazon tablet debuted a couple of years ago, and as Amazon stacked up media partnerships with the likes of Fox and PBS, the Kindle Fire tablet was seen as the first real challenge to Apple's iPad.
Now, in its third generation, the Kindle Fire HDX offers several very nice improvements at the right price and feature mix for many people, while offering the key to that treasure chest of content that Amazon has been wise enough to amass.
In this chapter, you get an overview of the Kindle Fire HDX: how it compares to competing devices and what its key features are. Subsequent chapters delve into how to use all those features in detail.
What's New in Kindle Fire HDX
WHAT'S NEW IN (HDX)
Kindle Fire HDX and the new operating system, Fire OS 3.0, bring several new or improved features to the table, including:
[check] Mayday: A support feature that allows you to interact with a live tech advisor who can talk you through procedures, point out items on your screen by circling them, or actually take over your Kindle Fire and perform procedures for you.
[check] X-Ray: This feature was available on Kindle Fire HDs, but with Fire OS 3.0 it has been enhanced to provide information about books and music in addition to TV shows and movies. X-Ray makes available information about topics such as movie cast members and vocal artists, and can even display song lyrics as music plays.
[check] Grid View: The Favorites area in the lower part of the Home screen has been redesigned into a grid, the first two lines of which contain icons for commonly used apps such as the Silk browser and Email. You can add apps and content such as books and music selections to this grid so that you can access them more quickly.
[check] Quiet Time: If you don't want to hear notifications for events such as arriving mail or download completions for a time, just tap the Quiet Time button in the Quick Settings bar (swipe down from the top of the screen to display Quick Settings).
[check] Quick Switch: To see content and apps you've used recently, from any screen but the Home screen swipe up or to the left from the Options bar (depending on whether it's positioned at the bottom or on the right of the screen) to see a scrollable list. This Quick Switch feature lets you quickly jump to another option without returning to the Home screen.
[check] Printing Support: You can now print docs, photos, and e-mail messages to wireless printers.
[check] Accessibility Tools: Screen Reader, Explore by Touch, and Screen Magnifier have been added to help people with hearing or vision challenges. See Chapter 3 for more details about these features.
[check] Second Screen: This feature wasn't yet available when Kindle Fire HDX first shipped, but it will appear soon. It allows you to "fling" content on your Kindle Fire HDX or the Amazon Cloud to your television. This causes the content to stream to the TV so that your Kindle Fire HDX is freed up for you to do other things with it while watching.
[check] Kindle FreeTime: This improved feature lets you create a unique environment for your kids by limiting what content and apps they can use. When you turn on FreeTime, your kids see only the content you've given them permission to use, and it's all shown against a more kid-friendly graphical background.
[check] Goodreads: This service is like a social network for readers. You can download the free app and then track and share what you're reading and get access to reviews and recommendations from other readers.
[check] Immersion Reading: You can synchronize a book on your Kindle Fire HDX with an Audible audiobook. When you do, text in the e-book will be highlighted as each word is read from within the Kindle reader, which Amazon considers a more "immersive" reading experience to aid learning.
[check] Kindle Matchbook: This sales feature, coming out soon, allows you to get a discounted Kindle version of any book you've purchased on Amazon.
[check] 1-Tap-Archive: If you haven't used an app in quite some time, say, a month or more, a check mark appears on it to indicate that it's not being used. If you want to remove the app from your Kindle Fire HDX, you can simply tap the app to do so.
A Quick Rundown of Kindle Fire HDX Hardware Features
Kindle Fire HDX comes in two sizes: 7 inches (see Figure 1-1) and 8.9 inches. Improvements with the third generation HDX include a faster processor, longer battery life, and higher screen resolution in both models. The 8.9-inch model includes both front- and rear-facing cameras, and both models offer dual microphones.
Looking for your Kindle Fire HDX speaker? With this latest model, it has been moved from the back of the device to the top.
Table 1-1 provides an at-a-glance view of Kindle Fire HDX features.
Key Features of Kindle Fire HDX
Kindle Fire HDX is a tablet device with all the things most people want from a tablet packed into an easy-to-hold package: e-mail, web browsing, players for video and music content, built-in calendar and contacts apps, an e-reader, a great online content store, access to tens of thousands of Android apps, and so on. In the following sections, you get to explore all these useful features.
Storage on Earth and in the Cloud
Kindle Fire HDX offers 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of storage in its 7- and 8.9-inch models. Any storage amount will probably work just fine for you because when you own a Kindle Fire HDX, you get free, unlimited Amazon Cloud Drive storage for all digital content purchased from Amazon (but not content that you copy onto Kindle Fire HDX from your computer by connecting a micro USB cable). This means that books, movies, music, and apps are held online for you to stream or download at any time you have access to Wi-Fi, instead of being stored on your Kindle Fire HDX.
This Amazon Cloud Drive storage means that you don't use up your Kindle Fire HDX memory. As long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, you can stream content from Amazon Cloud at any time. If you'll be away from a connection, download an item (such as an episode of your favorite TV show), watch it, and then remove it from your device the next time you're within range of a Wi-Fi network. The content is still available in the Cloud: You can download that content again or stream it anytime you like.
If you want to go whole hog into Kindle Fire HDX, you can opt for the highest memory device, the 64GB 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX 4G LTE Wireless version of the device. Just be aware that 4G devices come with the added cost of an AT&T or Verizon data plan.
Kindle Fire HDX is generally easy to use, with a simple, Android-based touch-screen interface. Its primary focus is on consuming media — and consuming media is what Amazon is all about. Kindle Fire HDX also offers its own Silk browser, an e-mail client, calendar and contacts apps, and an available Skype app, as well as the Kindle e-reader (see Figure 1-2 ). In addition, the OfficeSuite productivity apps are built in and include word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation programs.
Just because a particular type of app doesn't come pre-installed on Kindle Fire HDX doesn't mean you can't get one @@you can, and often for free. At this point, the selection of apps available for Android devices isn't nearly as robust as those available for Apple devices, but that will change over time. See Chapter 11 for a list of ten apps that can flesh out your Kindle Fire HDX with popular features such as a budget tracker, weather reporter, and drawing app, and check out Chapter 12 for ten or so great game apps.
Here's a rundown of the functionality you get out of the box from pre-installed apps:
[check] E-reader to read both books and periodicals
[check] Music player
[check] Video player
[check] Audiobook player
[check] Contacts app
[check] Calendar app
[check] Docs document reader for Word, PDF, RTF, and HTML format files
[check] Silk web browser
[check] Camera and Photos (see Figure 1-3) in which you can view and make edits to photos (such as rotate, change brightness and adjust for red-eye, and crop)
[check] E-mail client (use this to set up Kindle Fire HDX to access your existing e-mail accounts)
[check] Integration for Facebook and Twitter
[check] OfficeSuite for simple word processing and spreadsheet functionality
Check out the apps stored in the Cloud (meaning that these apps are stored at Amazon, rather than pre-installed on your device) by tapping Apps on the Home screen and then tapping the Cloud tab. Here, you may find a number of free apps, such as a Wi-Fi analyzer (to check your Wi-Fi connection), free games, and more.
Here are some of the things you can use your Kindle Fire HDX for:
[check] Shopping at Amazon for music, video, apps, books, and periodicals, and viewing or playing that content.
[check] Storing Amazon-purchased content in the Amazon Cloud Drive and playing music and video selections from the Cloud instead of downloading them to your device. Amazon content doesn't count toward your Amazon Cloud Drive storage limit (20GB), but other content backed up there does. Note that you can go to www.amazon.com/clouddrive Chapter 1: Overview of the Kindle Fire HDX 13 and purchase anywhere from 20GB for $10 a year up to 1,000GB of storage for $500.
[check] Sending documents to yourself at a Kindle e-mail address that's assigned when you register your device (see Chapter 2 for more about setting up your Kindle Fire HDX, and Chapter 10 for more about using your Kindle Fire e-mail address to send documents to your Kindle Fire HDX).
[check] Sideloading (transferring) content from your computer to your Kindle Fire HDX by using a micro USB cable that comes with the tablet. Using this cable (see Figure 1-4 ), you can copy photos, music, videos, and documents (Word or PDF) from any computer onto your Kindle Fire HDX.
[check] Making video calls using the free Skype for Kindle Fire HDX app.
[check] "Flinging" movies from your device to your large-screen TV using the Second Screen feature.
The magic of Whispersync
If you've ever owned a Kindle e-reader, you know that downloading Amazon content to it has always been seamless. All you need for this process is access to a Wi-Fi or 4G network. Then you simply order a book, music, or a video, and within moments, it appears on your Kindle device.
Kindle Fire HDX enjoys the same kind of easy download capability via Amazon's Whispersync technology for books, audiobooks, music, video, and periodicals.
Whispersync also helps sync items such as bookmarks you've placed in e-books or the last place you watched in a video across various devices. For example, say you have the Kindle e-reader app on your Kindle Fire HDX, PC, and smartphone. Wherever you left off reading, whatever notes you entered, and whatever pages you've bookmarked will be synced among all the devices without your having to lift a finger. (See Chapter 6 for details on notes, book-marking, and more features of the e-reader.)
Immersion Reading is a feature that uses Whispersync to allow you to play an audiobook and have the current word that's being spoken highlighted in the text. This feature supposedly aids in reader retention, so it might be a nice match for those late-night study sessions with textbooks.
You want content — Amazon's got it
As I've stated before, Kindle Fire HDX is meant to be a device you use to consume media, meaning that you can use it to play/read all kinds of music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, e-books, audiobooks, magazines, and newspapers. Amazon has built up a huge amount of content, from print (see Figure 1-5 ) to audio books via its subsidiary Audible (more than 22 million) to movies, TV shows, songs, books, magazines, audiobooks, apps, and games.
Count on these numbers to have risen by the time you read this: Amazon continues to rack up deals with media groups such as Fox Broadcasting and PBS to make even more content available on a regular basis.
Tap a library — such as Books, Music, or Videos — on the Kindle Fire HDX Home screen, and you can find various kinds of content in the Amazon store by tapping the Store button. Tap Newsstand to shop for periodicals (see Figure 1-6 ) and Music to shop for songs and albums; tap Video and you go directly to the Amazon Video store. Tap Apps to shop the Amazon Appstore. All the content you purchase is backed up on the Amazon Cloud Drive.
Another form of content that you get for free is the information contained in the IMDb, a database owned by Amazon. This information is used by the X-Ray feature to show you information about actors and characters in videos, song lyrics in music, and characters in books.
When you own a Kindle you can take advantage of the Kindle Owner's Lending Library, where you can choose from more than 200,000 books to borrow at no charge for as long as you like. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can also get one free book a month for your permanent library.
If you're concerned about kids who access content over your Kindle Fire HDX, check out the limitations you can place using the FreeTime parental controls (see Chapter 3).
See Chapter 4 for more about buying content and apps for your Kindle Fire HDX.
Browsing with Amazon Silk
Silk is Kindle Fire HDX's browser (see Figure 1-7). Silk is simple to use, but the real benefits of Amazon Silk are all about browsing performance.
Amazon Silk is touted as a "Cloud-accelerated split browser." In plain English, this means that the browser can use the power of Amazon's servers to load the pages of a website quickly. Because parts of the process of loading web pages are handled not on your Kindle Fire HDX but on servers in the Cloud, your pages should display faster.
In addition, you get what's called a persistent connection, which means that your tablet is always connected to the Amazon Internet backbone (the routes that data travels to move among networks online) whenever it has access to a Wi-Fi connection.
WHAT'S NEW IN
New with Kindle Fire HDX comes Reading View in the Silk browser, which removes from your browser view all but the written content. In addition, you get easier-to-use navigation tools and content pages that let you view web content by categories, such as Most Visited and Bookmarks. See Chapter 5 for more about using the Silk browser and Reading View.
The Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch and 8.9-inch Wi-Fi models can connect only via Wi-Fi; the 7 inch and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX 4G LTE Wireless models have both Wi-Fi access and 4G LTE access, so they can connect to a cellular network just as your mobile phone does.
Another touted capability of Silk is the way it filters content to deliver it faster. Say you open a news site, such as MSN or CNN. Obviously, millions of others are accessing these pages on the same day. If most of those folks choose to open the Entertainment page after reading the home page of the site, Silk essentially predicts what page you might open next and preloads it. If you choose to go to that page, too, it appears instantly.
Excerpted from Kindle Fire HDX For Dummies by Nancy C. Muir. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Excerpted by permission of John Wiley & Sons.
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