Amazon’s consumer electronics division makes a lot of hardware. I’m sure the strategy is more than trying everything and seeing what sticks, but it sometimes feels like that from the outside. It’s easy for products to get lost in the fray, but one that shouldn’t be is the Fire Max 11.
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This is a $229.99 Android tablet with an 11-inch (2000 x 1200, 213 PPI) screen powered by an octa-core MediaTek processor (2x Arm Cortex-A78 up to 2.2 GHz and 6x A55 up to 2 GHz) with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Battery life is rated at 14 hours, and there’s a microSD card slot.
For $100 more, you get a keyboard with back cover/stand and stylus. The product page advertises using the former with the Microsoft 365 (Office — still a dumb rebrand) suite of apps, with productivity being a clear focus of the $329.99 model. We can’t speak to the quality and performance just yet, but this is such a compelling product on paper.
In fact, it’s everything that Google wanted when it called “Android Tablets” the “future of computing.” The company has said:
We believe that the future of computing is shifting towards more powerful and capable tablets. We are working to deliver the next chapter of computing and input by launching seamless support across our platforms and hero experiences that unlock new and better ways of being productive and creative.
Google wants to see stylus-first applications, while it believes that large (touch)screens not “physically connected to a keyboard” will result in unforeseen use cases. It has explicitly raised the possibility of tablets overtaking laptop sales with price undoubtedly being the key factor.
The belief is that tablets started to be just much better for things beyond consumption, and were being used for creativity and productivity and there was a need for more screens and devices to support that.
On the software side, Google has been optimizing Android since 12L, with work continuing in 13 and 14. Over 50 first-party apps have been updated to support large screens, including foldables, for a night and day difference from a few years ago.
On the hardware front, the Pixel Tablet is launching next month with the best Google has to offer (with the exception of the camera) in one package. It’s a long time coming, but I don’t think this is what the company had in mind with Android Tablets as the future of computing.
Rather, the Google Play Store-less Fire Max 11 fits that vision more by being incredibly affordable and by nature of Amazon having the largest retailer presence. A physical keyboard is still the gold standard for office productivity, and the Pixel Tablet doesn’t offer a first-party equivalent. Meanwhile, I remain surprised that Google didn’t announce an official stylus, instead relying on general USI 2.0 support.
This is all because Google thinks of the Pixel Tablet as a smart home product and a Nest Hub successor. As such, it leaves an opening for another model. A Pixel Tablet Pro would fit that bill, but much more interesting is a Pixel Tablet A-Series that only offers an okay media consumption experience so that it can provide an equally okay productivity experience with a keyboard accessory. Going affordable rather than premium is how Google fulfills that Android Tablets ambition, battling Chromebooks in the process, of its OS running on the successor to laptops.
The Pixel Tablet is $499. An A-Series tablet priced around $349 with an included keyboard, at the least, would be the sweet spot.
Charitably, the Google tablet we will soon have is only 49% productivity-oriented, thanks to optimized Workspace apps (and 51% Nest Hub + media consumption device). We haven’t seen the company try for a cheap, large screen that runs Google Docs well. The Pixel line of A-Series phones is quite good, and I think Google could hit it out of the park with tablets if it really tried.
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