Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (2014 Edition) Quick Review: Still The Best Tablet For …

December 19, 2014 - Kindle Unlimited

Picture yourself on a couch. Now, opposite a room is a television. It’s usually a 48″ 720p flatscreen, bending adult to a digital wire box Time Warner sent we like 8 years ago that is delayed as molasses and has no remaining DVR space, and beside that is a aged Xbox 360 we haven’t overwhelmed in many a fortnight and is presumably home to a tiny yet happy civilization of dust-eating molds and fungi who are substantially as aged as a member video wire we have trustworthy to it. Oh, and there’s a DVD player.

Your cousin/nephew/niece/sibling/whatever got we one of those Chromecast things, yet honestly, we don’t even wish to try how to learn to use it, so it’s still in a box. You review eBooks on your aged Kindle DX, and we use your laptop as your TV a lot these days given it has Netflix and Hulu and stuff, yet that laptop is unequivocally removing to be a bit of a laggard. You also sequence a lot of things on Amazon, given it’s a name we trust and we like product reviews and good prices.

You wish a tablet. Which one do we get? It’s substantially a Kindle Fire, be it a 6, 7, HDX 7, or HDX 8.9. They’re all fundamentally a same in your mind – it’s usually a disproportion of shade size, storage, performance, and price. It’s not that we don’t caring about technology, it’s some-more that you’re kind of set in a proceed of doing things and a awaiting of an Android inscription creates we a tiny distressed given there are usually so damn many of a things.

Then we see that big, happy ensign promotion a Kindle Fires. They all get during slightest 4 stars – that’s encouraging, and there are thousands of reviews. The 7″ HDX starts during $179, yet we know what, we wish something fully-featured. This will be your usually tablet, and your laptop is on a final legs. You wish a square of hardware that’s going to take over during slightest some of that workload, even if that usually means browsing Buzzfeed and YouTube. So, a 8.9 creates clarity – it’s powerful, newly-released, gets a best battery life, has dual cameras (front and rear!), and it reviews ideally decently.


$380 puts it subsequent iPad territory, and even if it’s not cheap, it comes with a giveaway hearing of Kindle Unlimited, Prime Instant Video (with offline videos), and Prime Music. There are some genuine value-adds to be had there. It does Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and many other video services. It has apps. You can review your Kindle books, emporium on Amazon, do Facebook, and crop a web. The same things we use laptop for, strong into a tablet-y essence.

For this person, a Fire HDX 8.9 is an glorious tablet. The no-frills user interface, intensely discerning entrance to content, and faith in a Amazon name have done a Fires unusually renouned devices.

This year’s Fire HDX 8.9 doesn’t change many from 2013’s. In fact, a improvements are flattering teenager in each way, and unequivocally notable in usually one: a processor. The Snapdragon 805 chip introduces a quicker GPU, faster Wi-Fi, and some smaller improvements in several areas, yet really, that’s many of a story here. Versus a 800 in final year’s model, a differences aren’t huge, they’re usually incremental. Amazon unequivocally had no reason not to refurbish a SoC in a HDX 8.9, and it also used a event to toss some new Dolby firmware in there that adds support for 3D approximate sound when regulating headphones (content contingency support it). Otherwise, this is fundamentally a same as final year’s HDX.


The handling system, though, has altered given final year, with a recover of Fire OS 4 “Sangria.” 4.0 adds a series of new features, a many advertised of that has been Amazon’s Firefly. Essentially, Firefly is Google Goggles yet for things Amazon sells. Using a camera or microphone, Firefly will brand products, music, movies, and TV shows if Amazon has them in a database (or IMDB). It indeed works decently, if we go in with a mindset that it’s not magical. Product boxes are flattering frequently identified, as are bar codes, books, and songs. TV and cinema are a bit some-more strike and miss, as is any non-book/CD/DVD product not in a box. If Amazon doesn’t have an partial of film in a streaming system, it’s substantially not going to be means to brand it. Still, if we use Amazon to buy a lot of stuff, we can see how Firefly could be useful, generally if we use something like Amazon Fresh or subscriptions. Still, systems like this all have a enlarged proceed to go before they’re something I’d cruise regulating on a unchanging basement for tangible products, there are usually too many limitations.


Multi-user support is baked in, too, now, and we consider that’s going to be a vast strike with parents. You can emanate accounts generally for children, name a apps and calm they can entrance (Amazon even has a list of “kid friendly” calm for apps and games), and set time limits, goals, and other kinds of things (the giveaway time interface unequivocally is utterly powerful) we won’t see on a customary Android tablet, such as locking out a camera. Try and obey this functionality on a Nexus 9 or an iPad – we usually can’t. Amazon even has a subscription use we can buy for total entrance to children’s apps, games, and interactive training experiences, dubbed Free Time Unlimited. Amazon is gunning for a family marketplace here, and we consider they have a substantial leg adult on both Apple and Google.

Aside from those changes, Fire OS is still not hugely opposite from what we saw final year. Yes, there are cultured alterations and blueprint changes, yet a program takes an extremely iterative proceed to visible changes, and my theory is that it’s mostly to equivocate treacherous business who don’t like unsolicited updates to their products.


No, Fire OS does not have any Google apps. No, it doesn’t have many of Android’s native, built-in features. You can’t change a launcher yet sideloading an APK (even then, many are cart or simply incompatible). Or a wallpaper. Or, frankly, roughly any visible aspect of a OS. This is, we would again venture, in sequence to contend visible and organic coherence for users no matter that irritating in-law’s child gets ahold of their inscription during a subsequent family gathering. Amazon even creates we set a PIN out of a box now on your Fire.

The sequence of a top-level carousel shortcuts is as follows: shop, games, apps, books, music, videos, newsstand, audiobooks, web, photos, docs. You are an Amazon customer, and according to Amazon, this should roughly counterpart your expenditure priorities when regulating your tablet. You can't change this sequence – it is a proceed it is. Your tablet, a launcher, they’re usually gateways to content, designed to get we into a heart we wish as quick as possible. Amazon was also certain to outfit it with a good shade and some absolute speakers, to safeguard that media looks and sounds a best it can on a tablet. There isn’t many intrigue to Amazon’s inscription philosophy, I’ll contend that. But it works – you’ll never forget how to get to Kindle or Instant Video, given they’re permanent fixtures in a homescreen UI.

In short, this is not a inscription for me, it’s substantially not a inscription for you, yet we can roughly pledge that’s a inscription for someone we know, and that’s given these things sell. Anyone with an Amazon comment can figure out how to work a Fire tablet, and given Amazon so plainly saddles it with restrictions opposite modifications to a UI it’s flattering tough to forget how to work one, either. Even a big, labeled energy and volume buttons on a behind can’t be missed.


Are there problems Amazon should be solving, though? Absolutely. The build peculiarity of a HDX isn’t fantastic. While it’s intensely light and easy to hold, a unnecessarily vast bezels (something of an Amazon trademark, it seems) and groundless cosmetic support don’t roar “$380 tablet” to me, and we consider Amazon’s flagship line-up is rather desperately due for a pattern renovate here, even if it’s not an apparent priority for Amazon or a customers.

The rear-mounted energy and volume keys are something we was unconditionally incompetent to adjust to on final year’s model, and that hasn’t altered this year. we cite to use a HDX 8.9 in mural mode, and so remembering where a buttons are can turn a genuine pain. The back camera is flattering many a rinse in my opinion, a bearing is all kinds of wacky. And while a HDX 8.9 is fast, it isn’t by any means implausible in this regard. The browser, Silk, for example, is excruciatingly laggy during times and we simply wouldn’t be means to move myself to use it. And that’s not even removing into a crappy page digest issues. The email customer is decent, yet yet a first-party Gmail app, I’d substantially equivocate ever regulating that, either. For a many partial app preference on a Appstore is flattering good, yet a app itself is still frustratingly singular in terms of scrutiny and find on a device. There are no filters or hunt options, and that can make anticipating new and engaging calm difficult.


Most embarrassing, perhaps, is that Amazon’s possess earthy products selling app doesn’t even run that well on a HDX 8.9. It stutters and skips and takes weirdly enlarged to bucket during times, substantially given it’s mostly usually a saved web wrapper, yet still – regulating Amazon on my iPad Air 2 or even a Nexus 9 is a many smoother experience. Kind of an issue, guys.

The thing is, nothing of these problems are going to be terribly dire for someone indeed in a marketplace for a Fire tablet. They could be nuisances, certainly, yet a inscription does accurately what it says in a box: it lets we devour stuff. Lots of it. The Fire HDX competence have many of a facilities of a fully-fledged tablet, yet it’s so strongly secure in Amazon’s ecosystem that comparing it to such tablets on anything yet a simple turn becomes difficult. Not to put too excellent a indicate on it, yet if we can’t welcome a Amazon world, a Fire HDX is kind of a lump. For some people, though, carrying that universe tangible by a product right out of a box is value a other tradeoffs, tradeoffs they competence not even know exist. we like to consider of a Fire HDX as a inscription ‘starter kit’ (an costly one, albeit) – there’s so tiny to break, calm is unequivocally unprotected for a user to find, and it’s mostly set adult for we right out of a box (Amazon even signs we in).


Amazon also sent along some accessories with a HDX 8.9 – a folding origami box ($70) and a Bluetooth keyboard ($60). The origami box is, as it was final year, ridiculously thick and heavy. The usually changes we can note are a switch to leather (there’s even a premium leather case) and a tiny effervescent rope on a front for a stylus. The kickstand works, yet we don’t see any proof to a uncanny folding mechanism. The keyboard is functional, yet honestly, who buys a keyboard for a Kindle Fire? That seems uncanny to me. Like any keyboard this size, it is small, cramped, and a trackpad is radically invalid for anything yet enlarged self-torture. Weirdly, while a keyboard does accumulate divided magnetically into a origami box (creating a nearby inch-thick Kindle in a process), there’s no proceed to use it like a tiny laptop. Because a keyboard is stored on a tangible folding apportionment of a case, we have to take it out to column adult a tablet. Don’t worry, though, given it doesn’t unequivocally matter given propping a HDX adult in your path regulating a box is fundamentally unfit – you’ll need a flat, non-squishy aspect to set it on.

Anyway, that’s a Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. And accessories. You can get it starting at $379 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model, and work your proceed adult from there to a top-tier LTE 64GB version, at $579.


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