If you’re in the market for a new tablet or are lucky enough to have received an Amazon gift card and want to spend it on a new gadget, check out the Kindle Fire HDX. The design and specs of this tablet are impressive, but what really stands out is the Mayday Button, a radical concept that’s a game changer in tech.
The killer feature of the HDX, the one that will be a key factor for many people considering this tablet, is the Mayday button. This button gives you free instant access to an Amazon operator who appears in a video screen in the bottom corner of the tablet, ready to help you within seconds.
The Mayday operators are available 24/7 to answer your questions about using the HDX. You can see them on your screen, but they can’t see you.
They can help you understand and navigate your new tablet. Go ahead, ask them how to link your email to your Fire. They will answer your question and then find out what else they can do to help you.
They can draw on your screen and help you maneuver around and through different apps, and other features of your tablet. Imagine never being frustrated at tech because there is someone ready, willing and able to help you every step of the way.
Swipe from the top of your HDX screen to reveal the Mayday button, tap on it, press the Connect button and a square will appear in the bottom right corner of the screen. Within a few seconds a friendly operator will appear to help you with your question.
I tested the Mayday button on what was bound to be a busy day for Mayday: Christmas. I was greeted within seconds by a helpful operator. I first tested the Mayday button at 10:00 AM, Eastern time, and saw the operator within eight seconds. I tried again at 10:00 PM and my wait was about 20 seconds, not bad considering extended hold times for many customer service phone calls.
I used the Mayday button again on December 26 from a different Kindle Fire HDX tablet, not the one Amazon sent me for review. The response time was seven seconds for a friendly operator from Kentucky.
Each of my three Mayday tests was successful. The operators, two men and one women, were friendly, helpful and patient. I am now officially spoiled for all future customer service experiences. I truly hope Amazon is setting the standard for customer service that many other companies will follow.
According to Amazon, they beat their goal of a 15-second response time with an average of 9 seconds on Christmas Day. Amazon also shared some reactions of people trying Mayday for the first time on Christmas:
- A young girl got a Kindle Fire HDX for Christmas. She was playing around with it and accidentally tapped the Mayday button–when she saw the Tech Advisor, she just screamed “MOOOOOOMMM!”, not having expected a person to pop up on the screen. Her parents could be heard laughing in the background.
- “Not only is the device awesome but the Mayday feature is absolutely FANTASTIC!!!!! The Kindle team has hit it out of the park with this one as did Santa!”
- A customer put a picture of their Christmas tree and their stockings hung in front of the fireplace on their Fire HDX display, and called in to wish the Tech Advisors a Merry Christmas.
- “Just tried the mayday button on my hdx. 15 second response time…amazon has done it again. Thoroughly impressed.”
- A group of carolers called in and sang to the team–they wanted to thank the Tech Advisors for their work and spread some holiday cheer.
- “You can take control of my Kindle? You guys come look! WOAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! THAT IS SO COOL THANKS BETHANY!” This is what it’s all about.”
- “This Mayday thing is amazing! I had heard and done a lot of research about it but I figured it would take like 30 minutes to get someone! That was not the case at all. Amazon has great customer support! I’m always so amazed with you guys!”
I gave the Kindle Fire HDX as a gift to a loved one who had never owned a smartphone or tablet before he received the HDX on Christmas Day. He was able to find his way around the HDX quickly and when he had a question, he pressed the Mayday button and quickly received a response from a helpful operator. He was delighted to own his first tablet and confident that he would soon be using it like a pro, with the help of the Mayday operators.
The Kindle Fire HDX comes in models with 7″ and 8.9″ screen sizes. Amazon sent me a 7″ HDX for review (yes, I must return it). The build is solid yet sleek. The edges are curved for a graceful look and pleasant feel.
The tablet has physical buttons on the back for power and volume controls. The buttons are raised to make them easy to use without having to look at them, which is good because you don’t want to have to flip the tablet over and back every time you hit a button. You can access these buttons even if your HDX is wearing a Kindle case.
See, Create a Custom Kindle Case! for my full review of custom cases.
The tablet is equipped with an advanced processor which makes using the features speedy without annoying lag time. Pages appear instantly, apps open quickly and games flow smoothly.
The HDX has dual Dolby speakers and a microphone for audio capabilities. You can listen to music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies and TV shows using the HDX.
The HD screen of the HDX is bright and sharp with vivid colors. Watching a movie on the high-resolution display was enjoyable as the screen is packed with pixels.
The HDX charges via a micro-USB plug, as do all other Kindles, but the curved edge means that the plug inserts at a unique angle. The stated battery life of the device is 11 hours of active use. The HDX also has a feature that minimizes the use of power if you’re reading a Kindle book to extend the battery life to 17 hours.
The 7″ HDX comes with an HD front-facing camera that takes photos and video, for Skype video calls and taking selfies. The 8.9″ model also has an 8 MP rear facing camera. The HDX has photo editing capabilities built in such as filters, stickers, drawing, cropping and more. Advanced photo editing apps are also available in the Amazon Appstore.
Like its predecessors, the Kindle Fire HDX comes equipped with Immersion Reading, a helpful feature that highlights the text of a Kindle book as the Audible audiobook reads aloud.
This feature is especially helpful for budding readers, those learning a new language, those with vision problems and people who need help to focus on what they’re reading.
The HDX gives you the ability to find out more about the video or song you’re playing without having to leave the Amazon app. Just tap the screen as you’re watching a video using the Amazon app and you’ll see X-Ray information pop up on the left side of the screen.
With movies and TV shows you can find out more about the actors who are on screen in the scene, learn what song is playing in the background and find out trivia such as goofs in the filming of the scene.
See, Kindle X-Ray – Quench Your Thirst for Knowledge for my full review of the Kindle X-Ray feature for videos.
With X-ray enabled songs you can see the lyrics scroll as the words are being sung.
The Amazon Appstore is filled with apps to make your HDX even more useful. Be sure to check the Appstore for the free App of the Day to equip your HDX for free.
Amazon doesn’t release how many apps it has in its Appstore and I don’t have time to count them all. Be sure to check in the Appstore to see if your must-have app is available.
Note that apps purchased from the Appstore also are compatible with many Android devices.
Accessing the Hidden Menu Bar
Hidden in the HDX is a top menu bar, different from the one that appears on the top of the home screen. To access the hidden menu bar, swipe down from the top of the screen. This reveals:
This important menu bar is key to using the HDX because you need to use this to connect to Wi-Fi and access the Mayday button. No Internet access = no Mayday access.
I suggest Amazon add an arrow icon at the top of the screen or other indicator that this menu bar exists. As is, this hidden menu bar becomes a Catch-22: You can’t call Mayday to ask how to access this menu bar because you need the menu bar to call Mayday.
Who Would Enjoy the Kindle Fire the Most
With its ground-breaking Mayday button, the Kindle Fire HDX is ideal for anyone who may want some help with using their tablet. Any question you have, tap a button and someone is there to help you. Actually, who doesn’t want that?
The Kindle Fire HDX is also a good fit for Amazon Prime members who can use the stunning screen of the tablet to watch Amazon Prime videos, including free movies and TV shows, read Kindle books and use other Amazon Prime benefits.
The HDX is also good for tech journalists who can ask the Mayday operator questions instead of having to research them. Not that I did that…
The Kindle Fire HDX is available at Amazon in 7″ and 8.9″ sizes, Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi + 4G/LTE, with 16, 32 and 64 GB capacity. The 7″ model starts at $229 and the 8.9″ model starts at $379.
Adding 4g/LTE so you can connect to the Internet when you’re away from Wi-Fi increased the price of the HDX by $100. Unlike Kindle ereaders, Kindle Fire tablets require you to pay extra to use 4G/LTE beyond the extra cost of the device. The Fire HDX offers monthly data plans through AT&T and Verizon, similar to your data plan for your smartphone.
The combination of the Mayday button with advanced hardware and useful software features make for a tablet that’s worthy of your consideration.
My hope is that someday a reader will find this article and wonder, “Instant video customer service, what’s so radical about that?” But for now, the Mayday button is the feature that makes the Kindle Fire HDX radically different.
What are your favorite features of the Kindle Fire HDX? Do you like the Mayday button? Do you like the idea of free video customer service instantly? Let us know in the Comments section below!