Guess Android tablets aren’t dead yet. Following Google’s official launch of the Pixel Tablet last week, Amazon has unveiled a new Fire tablet called the Max 11. For just $230, the Fire Max 11 offers an 11-inch LCD display, slim aluminum frame, and Alexa smart home controls. I was able to briefly check out a sample at a briefing last week and am impressed with how much Amazon offers for its money.
By the way, this isn’t your average Fire tablet. While the company’s previous listings have found a niche as affordable, kid-friendly portable entertainment devices, the Max 11 has grown it all up. With slimmer bezels, a more premium aluminum body and a weight of just over a pound, it’s designed for those who also want to do some work and multitask. To that end, the tablet uses an octa-core MediaTek processor that Amazon said is about 50 percent faster than the “fastest tablet.”
There is a fingerprint sensor built into the power button, making the Maxx 11 the company’s first tablet to offer this feature. The 11-inch display, which Amazon says is “the largest and most vibrant tablet display,” has a 2,000 x 1,2000 resolution and is low blue light certified. It also supports WiFi 6 and runs Fire OS 8, which offers some split-screen and picture-in-picture features to let you fire up emails while monitoring your favorite YouTube live streams (like the Engadget Podcast, perhaps?).
More importantly, the company also made a keyboard and stylus case for the Max 11 that you can get for an extra $100. If you don’t need the pen ($35), you can get the case just for $90. It attaches to the device magnetically and also connects via pogo pins. I like that the cover comes with a kickstand, and in my short experience it was sturdy enough to support the tablet at different angles. The keyboard is detachable so you can take it away when you don’t want it on the road. Its keys were surprisingly springy and deep, with a well-spaced layout. While I think the trackpad is a bit small, I’m glad Amazon at least included one instead of eliminating it entirely.
I also enjoyed writing my name and a random greeting with the “Made For Amazon Stylus Pen,” which uses a replaceable AAA battery that the company said should last six months. Palm rejection on OneNote was effective during briefing, and you can also type directly in the search and message fields, and Max 11 will convert your writing into text that you can send.
Of course, this is a very different device than the Pixel Tablet, which comes with a speaker dock that keeps it charged and turns into a smart display when plugged in. But lest you forget, Amazon already offers Show Mode on its tablets, which turns them into dashboards for your connected home, much like the Echo Shows. The same is true of the Max 11, and with the stand on the box, you can basically turn it into a smart display. Sure, it won’t always stay charged unless you plug it in, and it won’t have a premium sound system when left stationary. But you can kind of replicate the Pixel Tablet experience here for $150 less. Alexa can always listen in, too.
The Max 11 itself will last 14 hours on a charge, according to Amazon, and 64GB and 128GB models will be available. For those who are curious, the device will have 4GB of RAM and 8MP front and rear cameras. And in case you’re clumsy or expect the kids in your life to squabble over this tablet, it’s reassuring to know that Amazon claims the Max 11 is “three times more powerful than the iPad 10.9” (10th generation).
Like the company’s other tablets, the Fire Max 11 supports comprehensive parental controls and multiple user profiles so you can share this with peace of mind. For just $330, the Fire Max 11 offers plenty of features that make it seem like a solid value. It’s definitely cheaper (when you include the keyboard case price) than the Galaxy Tabs, Surfaces, and iPads that have long dominated the tablet market. There are companies like Lenovo to look out for, of course, but given Amazon’s strong foothold in the family-based space, it looks like the Max 11 is about to find its home in the backpacks of many school-going kids soon. You can pre-order the Fire Max 11 starting at $230 today.
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