With Amazon’s announcement of the new Kindle Fire HDX last week, everyone has been asking: Should I upgrade my tablet? Kindle Fire reviews have always been high, the various models all receiving Viewpoints scores above 90/100, so there are high expectations for how the Kindle Fire HDX will perform. The tablet does have some new specs improving upon the Kindle Fire HD, the most notable being the “Mayday Button”, where 24-hour tech support can pop up on your screen if you have a question or problem, and clearer, sharper graphics. Getting new features your current tablet doesn’t have is fun, but whether or not you invest in a new tablet should depend upon two main things: what you are going to use it for and price.
When considering upgrading to the Kindle Fire HDX, the first thing you should think about is what you want to use the tablet for. Is it just for play—games, videos and searching the web; is it just for reading; or is it for both work and play? Which of these three categories your needs fit into will narrow down your choices of tablet so you can start looking at reviews and prices.
Tablets can range from $100 to $500, sometimes even more. Three competing and top-rated tablets on Viewpoints fall in this price range: the iPad with Retina Display, the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Paperwhite. Each also belongs to one of the three categories above.
iPad with Retina Display: The best everything tablet
If you are looking for a tablet you can do everything on—email, surf the web, edit video, games, movies, read—then the iPad with Retina display is the one for you. This tablet can be used for both work and play with all of the app choices available, but with prices starting at $499 it is also one of the more expensive tablets on the market. With a Viewpoints score of 94/100 based on 53 reviews, many reviewers found this tablet to be worth the price for its apps, speed and portability.
Editor’s note: Our Apple expert, Terry Nakagawa, predicts some significant improvements to the new iPad, with an announcement expected in October. You might want to wait to upgrade to the new model, or wait for discounts on older iPads.
“Where the iPad shines is in Apps. There are so many great apps for productivity, school, games, and entertainment that no other platform currently offers.” –rokkstarr, Reviewer since 2011
“This is an awesome tablet to own…My husband uses it as an ereader, to browse the internet, to play games, to check facebook, twitter, and his email. He also uses it for his work during presentations and speeches.” –agravette, Reviewer since 2011
Kindle Fire HD and HDX: The best for media consumption
With a Viewpoints score of 94/100 based on 132 reviews, the Kindle Fire HD, and its soon-to-be-released upgrade the Kindle Fire HDX, is a highly rated tablet that would be the best option for someone who would use it for media consumption. Priced between $139 and $269 this tablet is cheaper than the iPad and Kindle Fire reviews say it is great for streaming video, playing games, listening to music and surfing the web.
“I enjoy the large variety of apps and games to choose from and how many are free. My household can find something to keep them entertained/informed with this Kindle, making the purchase well worth the price.” –svanderlinden, Reviewer since 2013
“The Kindle lets me stream videos, and the picture and sound are wonderfully crisp and clear. There are also a couple of games on the Kindle that I’ve played a TON… I have an Amazon Prime membership, so I’ve spent a lot of time on there browsing books and videos. For some reason, the Kindle does a better job of streaming the videos than my laptop.” –time2cre8, Reviewer since 2008
Kindle Paperwhite: The best eReader
If you solely want to use your tablet to read, the Kindle Paperwhite is a good choice for you. With a Viewpoints score of 93/100, the Kindle Paperwhite is one of the highest rated eReaders available. With a front-lit screen, this eReader can be used in the dark and in bright sunlight with no problem. And with a price of $119, it is one of the most affordable eReaders on the market.
“I finally decided to upgrade to the Paperwhite. I could not be happier! It’s easy to use, holds battery life for a long time, and there is no glare while reading in the sunlight. I love bringing this on vacation and being able to pack the sleek technology instead of lugging books with me. It’s such a convenience and works so well.” –pestochaneo, Reviewer since 2013
“The touch screen makes books easier to breeze through than the original. The paperwhite feature adds to reading clarity. I have poor eyesight, so I love the fact that I can pick my font size. It saves us a ton of space, because we get rid of our hard copies as we download the Kindle edition, which is often free. The built in dictionary is a big plus. I used to have one on my nightstand to utilize as needed. Now, all I have to do is tap the word and the definition appears.” –elflady05, Reviewer since 2009
If you’re looking to upgrade your tablet, as always you should first consider what you want to use it for: everything, just for play, or simply to read. If you already have a Kindle Fire HD and are happy with it, you might not want to go through the expense of upgrading. But, if you are already in the market for a new tablet, the Kindle Fire HDX is a good option with its upgraded hardware and battery life, as long as it fits your needs and your budget.