8 Things Kindle Fire HDX Does That iPad Air Can't

The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is one of the hottest new tablets on the market. But how does it stack up against THE hottest modern tablet? CIO.com's Al Sacco highlights eight things the latest Kindle Fire HDX can do that Apple's iPad Air cannot.

Thu, December 12, 2013

CIO — Tablets are sure to be some of the most popular gifts this holiday season. Both Apple's new iPad Air and Amazon's latest tablet, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, will be atop a lot of gift lists. The iPad is inarguably the most popular tablet today, and the Air will help Apple continue its dominance in the tablet market. But the new Kindle Fire upped Amazon's tablet game, and it outshines the iPad in a number of ways.

 Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and Apple's iPad Air tablets
Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and Apple's iPad Air tablets

If you're considering buying a tablet as a gift - for a family member, a friend, a special someone or for yourself - this comparison will help inform your purchase.

Amazon sent me the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 a couple of weeks ago, and after putting it through its paces, I feel confident in saying there are at least eight good reasons you might want to buy Amazon's tablet instead Apple s latest and greatest iPad.

Before I get into specifics, it's worth noting that I don't mean to imply the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is "better" than the iPad Air; the iPad does a number of things the Kindle Fire cannot. And, in some ways, the iPad Air may be "better," depending on your specific wants and needs. This is article is meant to stimulate thought and demonstrate that the iPad Air is not the only high-end tablet that deserves your consideration.

Here's a list of eight ways the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 outdoes the iPad Air.

1) Amazon Prime Movies/TV and Offline Viewing

One of the best things about Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets is their integration with Amazon's content ecosystem and services. And perhaps the most noteworthy content feature is Amazon Prime subscribers' ability to download Instant Videos for offline viewing.

Of course, you need to have an Amazon Prime membership, and the service costs $79 a year. But that price is reasonable - less than $7 a month - and you get free two-day shipping on most items, access to more than 41,000 movies and TV episodes, and you can download 350,000 Kindle books. You also don't have to pay for each Prime movie or Kindle book, so you can afford to be more experimental with the content you download.

Prime subscribers with iPads or iPhones still get access to the Amazon movies/TV shows and books, using Amazon's iOS apps. But they can't download the movies or TV shows to their iOS devices for offline access.

So, for example, if you want to watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation during some holiday air travel, you could download it for free using your Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and then watch it during a flight. Many Prime films also have three different quality options (Best, Better and Good) to help manage download times and storage on your device.

 Amazon Instant Video Download Options on Kindle Fire HDX 8.9
Amazon Instant Video Download Options on Kindle Fire HDX 8.9

iPad users with Prime subscriptions can stream the film on Amazon if they have a network connection, but if their flights don't have Wi-Fi (or the airlines block streaming services, and many do) they're out of luck. Of course, iPad users could buy the film on iTunes, download it and watch it during a flight. But they'd have to drop $4 to rent it or pay $10 to buy the movie.

Netflix, the leading movie- and TV-streaming service on the Web, doesn't allow for offline viewing of its content on any platform, so the ability to download films and episodes from Amazon's Instant Video streaming service is unique, at least in the United States. And the latest Kindle tablets are the only devices that currently support the feature.

Some newer Internet-connected TVs also support Amazon Instant Video out of the box, but you have to purchase a $100 Apple TV device if you want to watch iTunes content on your TV. (Amazon says a "fling" feature for Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is coming soon, and it will let you quickly send media from your tablet to your compatible TV and then use the tablet as a remote control, another unique Kindle Fire feature, but I did not test this functionality.)

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