My Kindle Fire HDX has been a great device for over four years…and that’s a problem :)

My Kindle Fire HDX has been a great device for over four years…and that’s a problem 🙂

I think must people expect a gadget to last a year or two nowadays.

That’s very different from the way it used to be, when you might be able to count on inheriting your grandparent’s vacuum cleaner (and washer, and refrigerator, and…).

I use my Kindle Fire HDX every day, often for hours a day (since it reads to me in the car). Knock virtual wood, but it’s been one of the most reliable pieces of technology I’ve had. It does what it does quite well.

I have the

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

but it’s really just a back up and guest device. I like the interface, but it’s a bit muddy by comparison.

So, I’m satisfied with it: why is that a problem?

Apps are evolving past it.

I have a morning routine, and that’s included the CNN app (as one of different news sources I check, in part for my Flipboard magazines).

I wrote to them recently, because the Tech section clearly hadn’t been updating…even when there were tech stories in other sections.

Then, maybe a week ago, it couldn’t display an ad on the Featured section…and wouldn’t show me any stories in that category.

About a week, it informed me that my version of the app was no longer supported, and to download the newer version.

That didn’t work, either.

So, I can’t really blame them.

As hardware becomes more capable, software evolves to match it. As the apps begin to push the edge of the capabilities of the hardware, the machine again gets better to match (and surpass) it.

Then the software evolves again, making for a virtuous cycle.

It’s a bit like…imagine that you’ve been going to your favorite movie theatre for years, and it’s the mid-1920s.

You love that place. The ushers know you by name. The organist plays like Lon Chaney in Paris. They program it really well.

You go every weekend, and it’s well worth your two bits.

1927 comes along, and Al Jolson ad libs a line…the talkies are born.

In the next town over, a theatre is wired for sound.

Even if your theatre wanted to wire for sound, they just aren’t set up for it.

You stay loyal, and enjoy every minute of it.

This goes on for another five years…in 1931, you are tempted by Frankenstein and Dracula (you’ve read the books, and saw Lugosi on stage), but your theatre is so…comfortable.

Eventually, though, all the movies you want to see have sound, and spoken dialogue.

You can’t blame the studios if they aren’t making silent movies any more. You can’t blame your theatre…it’s just as good as it ever was. You can’t blame the new theatre: your theatre was cutting edge once, too

That’s the problem with long-lasting gadgets…eventually, the content will outgrow it.

I expect to keep using HDXter for some time…but I’ll have to start thinking about a new one, too.

What do you think? Do you have any hardware that outlasted its compatible content? How long should a tablet last? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


25 Responses to “My Kindle Fire HDX has been a great device for over four years…and that’s a problem :)”

  1. Phink Says:

    A few months ago I became quite dismayed when I discovered that tablets very well might become useless, or at least not do all you want one to do, before it is actually ready for the trash bin.

    A few years ago I decided digital movies were for me and since then I no longer buy DVD’s unless it comes with the digital version for the same or less money. I left Apple early in this process after realizing what a pain it was that my purchases only worked on Apple products. This is why I don’t do business with Apple these days. I decided to go with VUDU over Amazon after doing my research.

    I am finally getting to my point. My Samsung Galaxy Note 8, which I love, because I like hand writing on the screen, especially when doing mystery customer shops. It’s great for taking notes such as how long it took to get my order and what knot. Well, my VUDU app no longer works. It tells me to download the newest version but in the Google app store it says “this version is not available on your device.” I contacted VUDU and was told it simply won’t work with my tablet. I have pretty much decided not to buy anymore tablets. If my tablet will not work for me but 2 or 3 years down the road than I don’t want one until a model that I’d actually want gets super cheap. It is rare I watched movies on my tablet but sometimes at the table, when eating alone, I certainly would.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Yep…exactly the same issue. As things move more into the cloud, this hardware mismatch should be less of a concern. We may eventually get back to something more like the “dumb terminals” we used to have.

      I’m a little disappointed that virtual/augmented/mixed/merged reality is as balkanized as it is. Fortunately, I could get an app that allowed me to use Cardboard apps on my Samsung Gear, so that opened up more possibilities. One of my relatives has an older Samsung phone (an S3 versus my S7), so I couldn’t give the same headset I had. I gave a much less expensive third-party headset…but that means Cardboard apps. So, I wanted to be able to do Cardboard apps so I could provide some guidance.

  2. Phink Says:

    I work in a big box retail store. I work in whatever department they need me in that day. When I work appliances sometimes customers tell us, “my current washer (or fridge, or whatever) lasted 10 years but finally quit on me. I want a new one that’ll last as long as that one did.” We are honest and tell them “Sorry sir/ma’am, but that’s probably not going to happen.” Then we start trying to sell them the extended warranty. We do not tell them it won’t last 10 years to sell them a warranty. It’s just the honest truth. I view appliances as disposable nowadays. This is why I don’t spend a lot when one needs replacing. We just recently starting selling a $6,000 refrigerator. In California that may not be much money but in Arkansas it’s a heck of a lot of money. I can’t afford it and if I could that’s a lot of money for a product that very likely will not be around more than 5 or 6 years. I’d pay $6,000 for a fridge if it came with a ‘no questions asked guarantee for my lifetime.’ That’s the only way.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      It’s partially a result of our reverse pyramid pattern of technology acceleration, I think. There’s no point in making hardware that last ten years if the software five years from now will be so alien that it can’t run on it…

      • Phink Says:

        Very good point and I look at this fridge and think is this the future. It has a huge screen on it and features that you know has software and hardware. Are we coming to an age where appliances have the same problem as tablets? For instance you can order groceries from this fridge. You can look inside the fridge on your phone or tablet. When looking at your fridge through the screen there are numbers at the top. Place that number (1-10 days) on a food item and even if you move that item the number moves with it and counts down till it expires.

        Let’s say this fridge orders from Amazon green or whatever it’s called. I don’t know it does but let’s say it does. Let’s say in a few years Amazon has advanced past the fridge’s capabilities. Then I guess that means that feature will no longer work. Wait. Who am I kidding. The fridge itself won’t last that long LOL.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Phink!

        It does sound like a cool fridge…pun intended. 😉

  3. Sloop JB Says:

    I received a Kindle HD 8.9 for Christmas in 2013; I believe that it is the 2012 (not 2013) model (QVC Black Friday sale). It still works, but I have had a love-hate relationship with the thing. Loved the screen (still do). Hated that it made molasses seem fast (still true) and that you either had to get the apps from Amazon or sideload them, only to find that the errored out half the time b/c the Google Play store was missing (still true, alas). Now it mostly sits little used. The final straw for it was when Verizon did the exact same thing for the Fios app. You have to upgrade, but can’t, so you’re stuck.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about how long technology can be expected to last. I certainly do not think that most personal budgets can handle having to cycle tech every year or two, except for phones (which get used the most and which also tend to get beat up b/c you’re carrying them around) and “disposable” tech (like those $50 Kindle Fires). For tablets, a lot has to do with how nice the model was at the time of purchase. iPads, for instance, can be expected to last for four years if reasonably well treated. We had a iPad 3 (refurbished no less) which worked until last fall, when I stupidly left it on top of the car while in a hurry and drove off. While it would still be working (as in turning on and doing stuff) but for my mistake, it was reaching the obsolete stage, since it was stuck at iOS 9. I would expect something similar from well-made and thought-out tablets of any stripe. So I believe that the choice is between investing in a nice (at the time) tablet and expecting to keep it for 3-4 years, or to spend less on a cheaper tablet, but then having to replace it every year or two b/c it is no longer working; whether it broke on its own or it was assisted to its end by its frustrated owner is an exercise that I will leave to the reader.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Sloop!

      I think it’s going to be hard to set up guidelines like that, because of the acceleration factor. As software develops more quickly, the practical lifetime of hardware may shorten. However, it’s hard to predict…if off-device processing continues to improve, there may be less necessity to upgrade the hardware.

  4. Jennifer Martin Says:

    Hi, Bufo. I have a Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, (great for my bad vision!) And I don’t know what I’ll do if it breaks. It was a present from my best friend, I could never afford it myself. Probably has meant more to me than any present I’ve ever received. I have mine full of books, so far the apps I use all work. I’ll just have to do without any that won’t update! Regards, Jennifer Martin

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Jennifer!

      I get that. 🙂 Just because my KFHDX won’t run CNN doesn’t mean I’m done with it! I read CNN on my phone now…I don’t like that as well, but it works.

  5. Man in the Middle Says:

    My iPad mini retina still works fine, but is slower than I wish. I’d expected to upgrade with today’s announcement, assuming it would include an iPad with an A10 CPU like the iPhone 7. Sadly, no speed improvement was announced, so I’ll live with our existing iPad a while longer. It’s still fine for reading Kindle books, just a bit slow for Plants vs Zombies.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      That’s another interesting angle. When we’ve had a tablet for a few years, we tend to develop an emotional attachment to it…I have. 🙂 So, we may be less likely to trade up to get software we would otherwise find attractive. That could even mean that some software has slower adoption…

  6. john doe Says:

    I bought the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 when it first came out. Late last year I had to get an emergency out-of-warranty replacement from Amazon because the battery started expanding and popped the case apart. Other than that, zero complains. It’s a great device.

  7. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Planned obsolescence has been with us for a long time. Back in the fifties cars didn’t last very long. Riding in a car two or three years old was like rumbling around in a bucket of bolts. Car ownership was on a 3 year cadence. These days hard goods like cars and household appliances routinely last 10 years or more. Similar lifetimes are possible with most current electronic devices.

    However, the H/W is not usually the issue — it’s the S/W and content that we put on these devices that drives them to be functionally obsolete. These things are often on a cadence that is only a year or two.

    The providers of these devices and software are faced with a dilemma: how do they generate enough income to survive? This is made even more difficult as we consumers have developed an expectation that most S/W apps should be free. Some developers use advertising to provide the revenue; others (like Amazon) underwrite the costs because by providing devices and apps they facilitate other objectives (like buying stuff in their store).

    Perhaps the biggest thing that developers have to consider is the cost of after sale support — this can often represent as much as 80% of the total expense of a product over its lifetime. So while developing a product for an environment (like tablets based on Fire OS) might not be large, the relatively small population of users, and the high cost of providing support resources for yet “another” environment often leads to developers sticking with only the most popular environments (like IOS and Android in the case of tablets).

    Its very hard to create a viable product ecosystem in the face of entrenched competitors. Amazon tried it with the Fire Phone, and the Fire HDX tablets (which at the time from a H/W perspective were as good or better than the dominant tablets of the day). Amazon has withdrawn from phones and has devoted their tablet efforts to devices that mostly facilitate access to Amazon stuff. As such their current crop of tablets are just OK from a H/W perspective, but they are cheap, and they do the job. I expect Amazon to continue to drive their tablet prices down (as they have done with the kindle) so that the population of users able to easily consume Amazon “stuff” grows large 😀 .

    I own a Fire HDX 8.9 (most recent generation). It is a fine tablet, but I find that I don’t use it much. I think tablets span a fairly narrow use case, and that more and more stuff is now done on Smartphones.

    I’ve sort of resigned myself to getting new devices every year or two (:grin).

    • Phink Says:

      The paragraph about 80% of a products cost coming after the sale is interesting. I have cookbook software that I got for Christmas a few years ago. It had syncing abilities. If I added a recipe on my computer I could hit sync and then go to my oldest kindle fire, which I converted into an electronic cookbook, hit the sync button and it’d appear on the fire. This was just one of the multiple really nice features the software had.

      They have new versions of their software every year which can be purchased but no matter the product it’s very rare I ever upgrade to a newer version. I’m still working with Office 2007 for example. Or is it 2008? Anyway….

      Well a Christmas or two ago they sent out an email begging people to upgrade. They said every time we hit the sync button they have to give Google money. They rent their cloud space from Google I guess. They talked about all the expense they have after the product sells. I felt kind of sorry for the guy and want their company to succeed because I loved their product. I upgraded for something like $50 just to help them out. Within a couple months they decided to do away with syncing and some other features unless you are a monthly subscriber. I was not happy seeing how I just spent $50 as pretty much a donation to the company. They now charge $4.99 a month for a slew of benefits. None of which I care about except the syncing. Therefore, my kindle fire which was turned into an electronic cookbook is now a never gonna get touched fire. It’s too much trouble to manually tweak or add recipes in multiple locations. I use the software exclusively on my desktop now.

      I see the dilemma the company faced and am not unsympathetic to their plight. I mean would it have been better if they just went bankrupt? If they had I still could not sync the product. However, I felt, if they could at all financially, they should have allowed us who just upgraded a couple months ago, to have all the monthly subscriber benefits for a year. I know what most will say. They’ll say something like “they sold that product with the promise of syncing so they should only turn off syncing on new versions. Not ones that have already sold.” I agree mostly. The problem is like I said. What if that drove them into bankruptcy? It is a rough situation for small companies. Too bad they could not do what it seems every other small company does and sold to Google or Amazon.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Phink!

        It’s a tough situation. I do think they could have converted your $50 into a monthly subscription, giving you at least 10 months.

        When we bought our Tivo, we were able to pay $250 for a lifetime subscription. We kept that device going to a very long time (I replaced parts of it twice with parts from WeakKnees). It eventually died beyond my ability to repair it…and that ended our relationship with Tivo. I have so many video options now, it’s just that it’s not worth it to pay for a DVR. For example, one thing I would Tivo was Survivor (I picked that as a successful show before the first American episode aired). I usually head for bed at about 8:00 PM (getting up around two or three), so it was on too late for me. I could watch it in the morning that way before I read spoilers. 🙂 Now, I mirror my Galaxy to my Fire TV and watch it on the CBS website in the morning.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      It’s interesting: I think of planned obsolescence at first at meaning the thing falls apart, but that’s not really a case of obsolete: it’s a case of broken. 😉 As I look online, though, they have both of the ideas…outpaced by development and decaying.

      I suspect a lot of people in Cuba wouldn’t agree with your characterization of 1950s American cars… 😉

      My plan at AT&T now allows a pretty quick upgrade to the phone…you can pay more to be on a shorter cycle. I may be tempted by the new Galaxy. 🙂

      I do use my tablet…a lot. However, I also my phone, my laptops (plural), and my VR headset. 😉

  8. Jacqueline r walker Says:

    I have a 8.9 Hdx fourth edition it’s great…had a third edition when it first came out but it wasn’t updating so Amazon gave me a new one.. I have a hd6..a kindle fire… A kindle hd8 also but was thinking about buying the hd10 but my son says no I don’t need no more tablets..I have them in case of back up and also some apps and games is not compatible to the other….

  9. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Two of my Kindle Keyboards are about to become obsolete. Amazon gave a new deadline for upgrading them to the latest software version, but unfortunately, if I complete this upgrade, it will make 86% of my Kindle books unreadable on those devises because of the horrible kerning on larger font sizes. They have already extended the deadline twice. I have a feeling the third time will be the charm. Fortunately, in the year since they first started warning that Kindle Keyboards would lose cloud access if not upgraded, they have made improvements in the kerning of larger text sizes for the Voyage software. They also added Amazon Ember font which is easier on my eyes. My only remaining concern about losing cloud contact for my K3’s is that eventually I will need to restart them and then I will lose the date so I will no longer be able to successfully sort content by “most recent” but I can get around that by creating a top folder to hold my “in progress” books. I should also still be able to download content manually. I’m just not sure if Amazon will be making changes that would cause new purchases to be unreadable on older software. Time will tell.

    Did anybody else mention printers and scanners? It’s so frustrating to have to replace perfectly functioning printers when new computers change connector ports or fail to update drivers on older devices. I had to upgrade a printer and scanner when Apple switched from ADB and SCSI to USB. I also had to replace a perfectly functioning photo printer when they stopped making ink cartridges for it.

    • Phink Says:

      I really need to download all my books just in case. I don’t have any of them downloaded to my computer. I think this year I’m going to do that and keep them on a flash drive.

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        I have my Kindle 1 archived on an SD card. I tried transferring a book from the SD card to one of the K3’s, and it wouldn’t open on the K3. I know there were a lot of changes in the Kindle from K1 to K3. I’m not sure if different Kindle software requires different formats for successful delivery, or if the books are coded to work only on the designated device. The last time I downloaded a Kindle book to my computer, I had to designate a specific Kindle for that book. I successfully transferred it to that Kindle. I didn’t try it on another Kindle to see what would happen.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        The books are generally keyed to a specific device (when they come from the Kindle store). If I don’t want a book right away, I usually send it to my Cloud reader. When you download a book from your archives, it should be formatted and keyed specifically for the device you choose.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Phink!

        Well, be aware that most Kindle store books are keyed to a specific device. If you downloaded them for, say, “Fire Tablet #1”, they wouldn’t work on “Fire Tablet #2”. They don’t make it obvious which are which…I believe it says “Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited” on the Amazon product page, it won’t have the DRM (Digital Rights Management) which would limit it to one device, but I’m not positive that’s true.

  10. sherrigodsey Says:

    I have a Kindle Fire HDX 7″ that I purchased refurbished back in December 2014. It is my 3rd Fire. The Kindle is perfect for my purposes. I watch it mostly at home using WiFi, and I have a small payment every month to AT&T so I can connect to that if for any reason I’m away from home or if our power goes out and I lose Wifi. I don’t have to connect to that very often.

    I never got a regular tablet, like an iPad, because I needed to avoid the cost of paying separately for a data plan. I’m almost 69, no tech guru, and appreciate the simplicity of using a Kindle. And I’m on a very, very restricted budget now that I can no longer work. The Kindle has been my lifeline. I used to purchase numerous movies and books–love watching and reading stuff on my Kindle. I’ve had to cut back on what I purchase, or even rent, but there are still plenty of TV and movies available through Prime. And I’ve splurged by getting Netflix and Hulu. I carry my Kindle with me everywhere in the house.

    I’ve been watching CNN on it for several years, and was really upset to have the app stop working last week. Did a search to try and find out why, and yours is the ONLY site where I’ve found any real info on the issue. I’ve thought on and off about how long my Kindle will last; it’s an important subject for me because of my financial situation. It would be very difficult for me, now, to replace my Kindle should the battery die (I have to keep it plugged in most of the time as it tends to drain faster than I’d like), and now I’m concerned that I might start losing content due to changes in the items I choose to download, like a new CCN app! After reading comments here, I’m also now concerned about my ebooks. Should I be downloading these to my computer so I don’t lose them? I’ve only had this Kindle for 2 years and 3 months, so I should think it would last longer than that. Do you advise that as a safety for hanging onto my ebook purchases? I’ve found CNN on the Silk Browser and am watching clips there, and of course I have Fire TV and I can view it there. But I really miss being able to click on that app.

    I’ve bookmarked your site here so I can return should I have additional questions, or just to try and stay updated on Kindle issues. Really appreciate your presence.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, sherrigodsey!

      I’m glad you found the site, and feel free to ask questions. I usually get back pretty quickly, although it took a few days on some of them this time.

      Your Kindle e-books should work when you download them from the Amazon “cloud”, even if you get a different kind of Amazon device. Not every feature of every book works on every device: for example, I’m reading Patricia Cornwell’s Ripper right now, and it has animations which work on my Fire, but wouldn’t work on my Voyage or Paperwhite. However, I could still read the book there…the pictures just wouldn’t move.

      The reason to download your e-books is if you think Amazon might fail…I find that unlikely (knock virtual wood), and don’t store my e-books myself.

      Yes, I definitely miss the convenience of the CNN app working on my Kindle Fire 7. I do it now on my SmartPhone…not the same experience.

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