Updated: October 20, 2014
Only a few years ago, Amazon introduced the first Kindle Fire which was a popular tablet with Wi-Fi included. Amazon has come closer to competing with the iPad with the release of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.
Within the last few years, Amazon has made significant strides in improving their device line beginning with the Kindle eReader and then moving to the Kindle Fire with Wi-Fi, and on to its recent introduction of the Amazon Fire Phone. The latest in the line of tablet/eReaders is the Kindle Fire HDX with an 8.9 inch screen.
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is lighter than the Sony Xperia Tablet Z and the iPad Air with ergonomics that make the device comfortable to hold in your hands. The wide bezel means a slightly smaller screen however, it prevents you from accidentally touching the screen when you grip the device in your hands. The HDX 8.9 has also been designed with improved 3G and Wi-Fi capability to accommodate the latest applications.
The HDX 8.9 is offered in several different models which include 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. You can choose a version with or without ads, as well as a Wi-Fi only model or the upgraded 4G LTE version. Additionally, if you are looking to stream videos read books, and listen to music, the HDX 8.9 may be worth your consideration.
Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 Specifications
What is surprising about the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is it is very lightweight, weighing in at just over 13 ounces with a great display screen that has a 2560 x 1600 resolution with 339 ppi (pixels per square inch). It is obvious the display is designed for consuming Amazon content with vivid colors and contrast that makes streaming and viewing videos and TV shows a very pleasant experience.
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is equipped with Fire OS Mojito 3.0. Although the operating system is based on Android, this is not really made known in the specifications since Amazon is not Google certified. The HDX 8.9 also provides robust performance using a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor which is quad-core and clocks in at more than 2GHz. This is a much higher performance level than the previous Kindle Fire HD and includes an Adreno 330 graphics processor.
The operating system is focused around Amazon products and applications with access to Amazon Prime. You also have access to the Appstore for Android but not the Google Play store. The Appstore provides you with a selection of games and apps but is rather limited in an effort to keep you Amazon focused.
Fire OS 3.0 also provides easier content management which allows you to move items you do not frequently use to the cloud with one tap of your finger. This frees up space to allow you to manage content you use on a more frequent basis. The operating system is also equipped with accessibility features that accommodate the visually impaired with access to a screen magnifier, screen reader with text-to-speech-voice, and explore by touch.
The HDX 8.9 is equipped with dual-band Wi-Fi which includes a Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) antenna. This configuration has done pretty well on speed tests with PC Magazine, pointing out that that you can get a download speed of 7.66 Mbps when you are positioned thirty feet from your router with a 100MB (megabit) connection and a metal door in the middle.
The dual-band Wi-Fi allows you to enjoy hours of high definition content without having to hassle with dropped connections, slow downloads, and buffering when watching your favorite videos. This technology also allows you to be further away from the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot without sacrificing connectivity performance.
The Wi-Fi technology supports any hotspot that uses the 802.11a/b/g/n standard. You also have encryption support for WEP (Wireless Encryption), WPA (Wireless Protected Access), and WPA2.
If you choose the 4G LTE version of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, the HDX technology supports multiple bands to ensure a speedy mobile broadband connection provided by Verizon and AT&T. The 4G LTE connection is faster than Wi-Fi and allows you to multitask wherever you go and without any lag time.
You also have access to location-based services in the Wi-Fi model. The 4G LTE version has GPS assistance added to the services.
Browsing and Multitasking
The Kindle Fire HDX is equipped with Amazon Silk which is Amazon’s signature web browser. The browser has been redesigned to provide less clutter and more functionality with a new menu on the left hand side that makes navigation easier and faster. The content pages have been changed to make web content easier to locate with easy access to what’s trending now, sites most visited, bookmarks, and more.
You also have access to the new email app which makes synchronization easy, with support for web-based email accounts. Additionally, there is access to YouTube and social media which makes it easy for you to share content with your friends and family.
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is equipped with a 3.5mm stereo jack, built-in microphone, and Dolby Digital Plus audio engine. On the back of the device are two speakers which provide decent sound. However, if you want to fill the room with high quality sound, it is necessary to connect the HDX 8.9 to your home entertainment system.
If you are on the go, you can boost the sound quality with a pair of high end headphones or speakers. The HDX 8.9 provides support for headphones and speakers that are A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) compatible. The built-in Bluetooth connectivity provides support for a wide variety of wireless accessories, including a keyboard.
One drawback is the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 does not offer an SD card slot. However, Amazon makes up for this shortcoming by providing you with unlimited cloud storage, in addition to 5GB of storage for personal files.
There is a 2.0 micro USB port for connecting the HDX 8.9 to your PC. This USB 2.0 port also serves to charge the HDX 8.9 with the PowerFaster charger which is included with the device.
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is equipped with both a front and rear-facing camera which are average at best. The front facing camera is 1MP (megapixel) which is okay for video chats but that’s about it. The rear-facing camera is 8MB which is average and produces inferior photos in low lighting environments.
In terms of video, the front facing camera supports 720p video and runs at thirty frames per second. The video quality on the front facing camera tends to make faces look washed out during video chats. The rear facing camera offers a 1080p resolution which runs at thirty frames per second and captures average videos at best.
The battery which is included in the HDX 8.9 has been greatly improved and provides up to ten hours of use when multitasking. Although Amazon claims a battery life of up to 12 hours, the average is nine to ten hours of use since most people use the device for multitasking. Recharging takes place in under five hours using the PowerFast charging unit. However, you can reduce the time by using a micro USB power adapter which is not included with the device.
Amazon has continued to include the Mayday service in the HDX 8.9 which is great for those that are not tech savvy or do not want to spend hours fixing an issue. The Mayday button immediately transports you to a qualified Amazon technician who can walk you through any issue by drawing directly on the screen. You simply tap on the Mayday button to receive live video technical assistance free of cost. The service is available 24/7 365 days per year and requires you to be close to a hotspot or other Internet connection to receive assistance.
The following video provides you with a hands-on overview of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.
There are a variety of other features you can enjoy which include:
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 supports screen sharing with your big screen television and allows you to convert your television into a tablet monitor. This is accomplished using the Second Screen feature which allows you to transfer Amazon Instant Videos to your big screen television or a media streaming device such as Roku or PlayStation 3. Then you can free up the Kindle device for use as a remote using playback controls. It also allows you to take advantage of the X-Ray display which allows you to learn more about the program you are watching via the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) site.
Here is a visual demonstration of how the X-Ray feature works.
It is also possible to mirror your Kindle Fire screen using accessories that are enabled with Miracast. This converts your big screen television into a tablet monitor. There are a variety of Miracast accessories available on Amazon that are compatible with the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 provides features that allow you to get things done when you are not enjoying the wide genre of entertainment, books, and other products. The HDX provides ActiveSync which allows you to manage and reply to email messages, as well as view Microsoft documents and presentations on the go.
You can also work with files and print documents using the wireless capability. The HDX 8.9 supports printing to wireless printers and allows you to easily connect the device to a Local Area Network (LAN) in the workplace, in addition to being able to connect to your company’s network using remote VPN (Virtual Private Network).
The Kindle Fire HDX includes access to unlimited cloud storage free of cost which allows you to store Amazon content and organize it into collections. This provides you with access to your content from anywhere and at any time. The cloud collection can also be synchronized with other reading apps and Kindle devices.
Pros and Cons
The Amazon Kindle HSX 8.9 makes an excellent device for consuming media, books, and shopping on Amazon, as well as accomplishing general tasks throughout your day. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons:
- Super lightweight construction and excellent design.
- Choice of options for storage and connectivity including 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB, as well as Wi-Fi only or 4G LTE connectivity.
- Easy and convenient access to Amazon’s ecosystem.
- Immediate access to on-demand Mayday video technical support around the clock.
- Beautiful display allows you to enjoy books and movies in vivid color.
- Fast Snapdragon processing performance gets you where you want to go and allows you to enjoy streaming videos and music without disruptions.
- Access to an endless selection of magazines, books, periodicals, movies, TV shows and music.
- Dual-band wireless capability provides you with high performance wireless connectivity.
- Free access to cloud storage ensures you never lose your content.
- Camera and video performance is average at best.
- Lack of app variety outside of Amazon apps.
- Interface is designed to keep you focused on purchasing from Amazon.
- Tech support is unavailable when you are offline.
- You must pay an additional fee of $15 to remove the ads from the home screen.
If you like everything about Amazon, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is a great tablet that will provide you with hours of video streaming, listening to music, reading books, and other activities. However, if you require a device that offers more flexibility and versatility, it may be more worthwhile to consider another type of device.
If you already have an Amazon Prime membership and simply want to enjoy everything Amazon, access television shows and movies, engage in some light gaming, read books, magazines, and periodicals, shop, and listen to music, it is very likely you will be pleased with the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.
The HDX 8.9 is Amazon’s top tablet device to date and offers exceptional hardware and performance for a device of this caliber. The software outside of Amazon apps is not the most functional with limited access to outside apps, however it should be okay for most Amazon customers.
In terms of price, you can expect to pay around $375 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only version of the HDX 8.9. The prices increase as you add more storage and 4G LTE connectivity.
The current design and capability is a sign of what is to come in the near future for the Kindle Fire device which has certainly come a long way from the initial Kindle eReader. Overall, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is ideal for anyone who wants a highly functional multimedia device that provides superior connectivity and excellent hardware.