It's the big day. You've been waiting to tear the bow and paper off all those gifts that have been temptingly resting beneath the tree, and now you've finally been able to do so. We're curious what you got, but we certainly hope it was all you dreamed for. And, if your holiday haul included the latest tablet from Amazon, then we'd like to give you a bit of help.
Amazon refreshed its lineup of tablets just recently, and several of us here at BetaNews have been enjoying the latest models. Not long ago I reviewed the 7-inch version, and my colleague Mark Wilson has been reveling in the fabulous screen of the 8.9-inch model of the device.
Before you Start
Given the most recent numbers, there's a fairly good chance that you already are familiar with Android, via a smartphone. Many of the tablets on the market work exactly the same. The Kindle Fire line, however, is not among that group. Yes, it's Android, but don't expect to recognize it as such. Expect a completely different experience from the Nexus 7. That's not a bad thing though, but more of an FYI.
Where to Begin
You'll need an Amazon account and, if you have a Prime subscription, then that will be a huge bonus. Like any Android device, you can swipe down from the top to get a menu that includes screen brightness, settings, wireless and the now famous "Mayday" button. Conversely, swipe up from the bottom to get the app drawer.
However, the main portion of the screen is also occupied by the apps list. Swipe in from the right to begin scrolling across the single file column. Recetly watched TV show series' also show up in this list.
Don't go looking for Google Play or, for that matter, other Google apps. They aren't there. You are now part of the Amazon ecosystem, but that includes a full-featured app store that contains most any Android app you want, so things aren't so dire as they may first seem.
The email still allows you to use Gmail (though you also have an "@kindle.com" address if you care to know). You won't get other Google services, but chances are you will not really be longing for them, as the Fire HDX will soon make you forget that you thought you needed them.
The big selling point here is Amazon Prime. Unlike standard Android, the service is built right into the operating system. Fire OS, as it's known, displays a menu across the screen top, giving options for video, newsstand, audiobooks (through Audible), books and much more. Click any of them to reveal a beautiful clean interface.
Regardless of which model you've unwrapped, the experience is largely the same. The device is thin, lightweight and boasts one of the best screens that you'll ever see on a tablet, at least in this generation of models. Both have front facing cameras, though only the 8.9 contains a rear lens.
Do yourself a favor also -- if you didn't get the Origami case, then grab one from Amazon. Propping the tablet up is key to getting the full experience. It's made for media and the cover, not only protects it, but enhances the audio, as it reflects the rear stereo speakers' sound back towards the viewer.
Someone is quite fond of you if this was a gift beneath your tree. We have only touched on the basics, but it will get you started. There's plenty to explore and, if you encounter a bump in the road, hit the Mayday button. Amazon promises fast customer service and, in our testing, it delivers.