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All three models expand on an X-Ray feature that Amazon introduced last year. While watching a movie or TV show on older Fires, you can get a list of actors appearing in that scene. Click on one for more information, mostly culled from Amazon's IMDb celebrity-database service. With the new devices, you also get summaries on major characters and opportunities to buy songs played during the show. You also get trivia and goofs, such as a lottery ticket having the wrong code in one scene of "Breaking Bad." You can jump directly to that scene with a click. When playing music, you also see lyrics for selected tunes, perfect for sing-alongs.
My favorite new feature is Mayday on the HDX. It's free, live technical support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A tech adviser appears in a small window on your Kindle, but the adviser can only hear you and see what's on your screen. Advisers can guide you by highlighting certain settings and buttons with a virtual orange marker. Advisers can also take control of your device and do the task for you, though you're better off learning to do it yourself.
I tried three times to stump the tech advisers. For the most part, I found them patient and knowledgeable. It appeared to me they were really thinking through the problem, rather than following a script, as I typically find with my cable company. That said, one late-night staffer was willing to give up easily and dismiss my issue as a device malfunction, until I nudged him to walk me through the steps to discover one I had inadvertently skipped.
I'll wait until the support center is fully staffed and trained before making a final judgment, but I'm pleased with what I've seen so far. I particularly like the security protocols; the adviser made sure to pause the screen sharing whenever I typed a password.
As devices get complex, we could use more of this type of offering. I'm hoping Amazon's approach to customer service gets adopted by Apple, Samsung and other rivals.
As for the hardware, the 7-inch HDX has a screen resolution of 323 pixels per inch, which is the same as the Nexus 7 and better than Apple's iPad Mini and Samsung's Galaxy Note 8.0. (continued...)
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