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Five ways the iPad is lagging behind the Kindle Fire HDX

Regular readers will know that I'm a big fan of Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX. A huge fan. I like it because I feel that Amazon now makes a better tablet than Apple. While I think that the fifth-generation iPad Air is a great tablet, I feel that Apple is iteratively evolving the iPad as opposed to giving it a full revamp it deserves.
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1 of 6 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Introduction

Regular readers will know that I'm a big fan of Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX. A huge fan. I like it because I feel that Amazon now makes a better tablet than Apple. While I think that the fifth-generation iPad Air is a great tablet, I feel that Apple is iteratively evolving the iPad as opposed to giving it a full revamp it deserves.

Before I go any further, I want to point out something. I'm not saying that the iPad is rubbish. Far from is. It's an awesome tablet, and Apple's App Store offers the best ecosystem out there. But over the past few years it has become clear to me that Apple is resting on its laurels, relying more and more on the iPad to sell because it's the iPad, as opposed to it being the best tablet it could be.

Also, for the purposes of this piece, I'm comparing the iPad Air with the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX.

So, how exactly is the Apple's flagship tablet lagging behind Amazon's flagship product?

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Price

The 16GB wi-fi variant of the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX is $379. A similarly spec'd iPad Air is $499. Bumping the Kindle Fire HDX up to 32GB and 64GB sets you back $50 per bump. For the same storage Apple charges you $100 per bump.

For both Apple and Amazon, these storage bumps cost about $10 in flash memory.

I get it that premium products command a premium price, but $200 for silicon worth less than a tenth of that is rather hard to swallow.

I believe that Amazon's pricing structure better reflects the actual cost of the storage and I'd like to see Apple give people who need more storage – most of it storage for stuff bought from Apple's digital empire – a break.

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Speakers

Five minutes with the Kindle Fire HDX and you realize just how bad the iPad speakers are. The sound from the Kindle Fire HDX is rich and covers the highs and lows brilliantly, whether I'm watching a movie, listening to an audiobook or playing a game, which is to be expected given that it is kitted out with a Dolby Digital Plus audio engine.

Compare this to the iPad's speakers sound tinny and weak. In anything but the quietest of situations I find myself having to resort to headphones.

Given that the iPad is seen as the ultimate content consumption tool – don't let this statement fool you though, you can create content on it – this is a massive oversight and a huge win for Amazon.

The image above is of the inside of a 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX.

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Battery life

Apple has managed to squeeze 10 hours of "surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music" time from the iPad Air, which isn't that bad until you see that Amazon has managed to get 12 hours of battery life out of the Kindle Fire HDX.

Amazon wins here big style.

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The "Mayday" button

Those of us to handle tech each and every day have little idea what it's like to not be au fait with… well, everything tech.

This is where Amazon's Mayday button is a huge win. A couple of taps and the user is talking to a human being who can help them sort out their problems or get the most from their device. No text chat, no endless form filling, no pinging an email off into oblivion, and no having to cart the device to an Apple Genius Bar.

This is support, 21st century style!

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Wi-fi

The iPad is not bad at all at seeking out and connecting to relatively poor wi-fi connections, but the dual band, dual antenna (MIMO) wi-fi capability found in the Kindle Fire HDX is far superior, turning what is a poor connection on the iPad Air into a perfectly usable connection on the Kindle Fire HDX.

In an increasingly mobile world, a better connection to the web makes all the difference.

The image above shows the antennas from a 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX.

UPDATE: The iPad Air also features MIMO, but the Kindle Fire HDX still trumps it in the tests I've carried out.

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