The KIndle Fire HDX Second Screen
Second Screen is bound to get more traction among more tech-savvy users — well, once the company rolls the feature out to more platforms, anyway. At launch, it’ll play nicely with Samsung Smart TVs and Sony’s PlayStation 3 and 4. We asked about other platforms like Chromecast and simply got a “stay tuned.” That would certainly be a killer combo, but then again, this feature could actually be a setup for Amazon’s own rumored set-top box. Like the PlayStation app and Microsoft’s SmartGlass, the feature is an attempt to harness the fact that you’re probably already sitting in front of your TV with your tablet anyway. (It’s a shame, really, that Andy Rooney isn’t around to reminisce about the days when one giant screen was more than enough to hold our attention for half an hour.)
The feature lets you “fling” content to your TV. What actually happens is that your set picks up the stream where you left off on your Fire, pulling video from the cloud and therefore not relying on the HDX for any processing power. You can also just pick up and leave the room with Fire in hand and the stream on the set will remain unaffected. Your tablet, meanwhile, is freed up for other things, be it checking your email or playing a game. If you’re the sort who likes to actually pay at least half-attention to the TV while you’re in the same room, you can also follow along using X-Ray, which offers up contextual information about actors as they pop up. That feature has also been expanded to include information about songs and trivia from Amazon-owned IMDb. Once you’re done, you can fling that content right back to your tablet.
Second Screen is a cool feature, certainly, and it’s a clever way of leveraging the foundation the company has been laying down with X-Ray. There are, not surprisingly, a few moments of buffering as videos jump from one device to the other via the cloud, but otherwise it works fairly well, and certainly makes X-Ray a lot more usable than attempting to split a 7-inch screen between a video and that feature. Still, it’s a shame that Amazon opted not to include a wired video-out option on the HDX, an omission that may turn off some users.