Kindle Fire HDX or iPad Air: Basics for Deciding Which to Buy for Christmas

Kindle Fire

Amazon has taken its Kindle Fire HDX marketing up a notch this week by offering 9-month interest free financing for the device, but even at that, can it really compete with the iPad Air? Tablet computers are one of the hottest items this Christmas and consumers want quality, but don’t want to break the bank either. It is Kindle Fire HDX vs. iPad Air in the battle to top Christmas lists this season. A comparison of the two may be helpful in deciding which way to go this Christmas.

First things first, how do each of these respective products affect the bottom line? With a heftier price tag, starting at around $499 for a 16GB model, the iPad Air is likely going to need to offer some significant advantages in order to beat out the Kindle Fire HDX that starts at about $379 for 16GB.

Storage capacity is another factor of primary concern when deciding whether to buy the iPad Air vs. the Kindle Fire HDX this Christmas, and it also has an effect on the bottom line. Both devices offer 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions, with iPad Air offering an additional 128GB version. Each bump up in storage capacity will cost an additional $100 with the iPad Air vs. $50 per bump with the Kindle Fire HDX. The Kindle Fire HDX gets the advantage here again due to its much lower price for additional storage. With the vast majority of tablet purchasers looking for either a 16GB or 32GB device, it seems unlikely that the iPad Air’s additional 128GB version will offer much of a benefit to most consumers.

Screen size and quality is another serious concern. The Kindle Fire HDX is available in an 8.9 inch size, while the iPad Air is 9.7 inches. The iPad Air has the edge on size, but what about the quality of the display? Both offer a retina display, but the Kindle Fire HDX gets the edge on quality of image with a 2560 by 1600 resolution display and a pixel density of 339 pixels per square inch. The iPad Air has a 2048 x 1536 resolution display with a pixel density of 264 pixels per square inch.

The quality and quantity of apps available for the two respective devices may also be of concern for those looking to purchase a tablet for the holidays.  For those already heavily tied to iTunes or the Apple App store, the iPad Air will probably be a better fit in this capacity.  The Apple App store is known to have the largest selection of apps, with nearly half a million that are tablet friendly. However, users of Amazon’s app store seem satisfied with it as well in spite of its much slimmer offerings. In addition to being tied exclusively to Amazon’s selection of apps, the Kindle Fire HDX is not compatible with Google Play, while the iPad Air is. Personal preference is what it is likely to come down to on this front.

As with apps, the iPad Air will allow access to a larger array of accessories to personalize the tablet, though the Kindle Fire HDX has a good number of options available as well.

How about the cameras? Both devices have a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera. The iPad Air features a 5 megapixel rear facing camera, while the Kindle Fire HDX features an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera. The Kindle Fire HDX also features a flash on its rear camera, but for most users, either camera will be satisfactory.

Another feature to consider before deciding which device to purchase is that the Kindle Fire HDX has a standard power port, while iPad Air has the proprietary Apple ports. For those who are already Apple enthusiasts, this may not make a difference, but for those who use a variety of devices and wish to keep their options open the Kindle Fire HDX’s standard port may be advantageous.

Battery life may also be an important consideration in the decision as to which tablet to purchase. The battery life of the Kindle Fire HDX is up to 12 hours, while the iPad Air boasts up to just 10 hours.

Sound quality may also be worth considering when making the decision whether to purchase the Kindle Fire HDX or the iPad Air. The speakers on the Kindle Fire HDX are placed at the bottom of the device when held in landscape mode. This may make it more desirable when using the device for watching video, as the iPad Air’s speakers are at the bottom of the device when it is held in portrait mode. However, when considering the overall quality of sound, the edge seems to go to the iPad Air as the more clear and crisp source.

Finally, if the tablet is being purchased for a family or for a child, the availability of parental controls may be a consideration. The Kindle Fire HDX clearly has the edge on this front with easy to access features that allow parents to control content on the device as well as the length of time that it is used. The iPad Air also features parental controls but they are not as easily accessible and lack the specificity of those that the Kindle Fire HDX offers.

There are undoubtedly many more considerations to be made when deciding which way to go in the Kindle Fire HDX vs. iPad Air debate this Christmas. For those wishing for a tablet this year, the difference may ultimately come down to issues of personal preference and the individual’s intended use for their device, making the Kindle Fire HDX and the iPad Air both viable candidates for providing Christmas joy this year.

By Michele Wessel


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