Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 in-depth review - A money burner for Amazon fans

Look and feel

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX is wonderfully slender and light for a full-sized tablet, making this one highly portable device. It feels as good as it looks, with a soft-touch back, and nifty rear-mounted power and volume buttons.

 

Ease of Use

The Kindle Fire OS presents your most popular content via a handy carousel, and spending your cash on Amazon is also incredibly easy. Things can get a little fiddly once you dive into sub-menus.

 

Features

Media and web fans will delight at the supremely sharp HD screen, boasting a greater resolution than the Apple iPad Air. The dual cameras are effective and it’s great to see some unique features such as the Mayday live support.

 

Performance

The latest Snapdragon processor keeps everything running with a beautiful smoothness. Games and HD media are easily handled by the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX.

 

Battery life

With seven hours of video playback, the Kindle Fire HDX doesn’t quite stretch to effortless all-day use like Apple’s iPad Air and iPad Mini, but it’ll keep you going for a lengthy trip.

 Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 Review - A money burner for Amazon fans
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2013 3:25:22 PM

9

out of 10

Performance

9

out of 5

Look and feel

7

out of 5

Ease of use

9

out of 5

Features

8

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Super-sharp HD screen; Fast Amazon and Lovefilm access; Mayday help feature; Highly portable

Cons:

Screen could be brighter; Lack of customisation

Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets are basically gateways into the consumer giant’s online store, allowing you to buy and consume Kindle ebooks, apps, movies, music and more, all on one device. The Kindle Fire HDX is the latest version, boasting a new mega-high-definition screen, all-powerful Snapdragon processor and some cool new features, including a 24-hour Mayday button.

 

 

Design: Two sizes fit all

 

The Kindle Fire HDX comes in two different sizes, much like the original Kindle Fire HD. Our review model was the 8.9-inch version, but you can also pick up the Kindle Fire HDX in a 7-inch model, if you’re more concerned with portability than having a spacious screen. However, the 8.9-inch device was still effortless to cart around, thanks to its slim and light build. At just 7.8mm thick it’s easy to slip inside a bag, while the 374g weight makes it considerably lighter than even Apple’s iPad Air. That means it’s comfortable to clutch one-handed, even for extended periods.

 

Kindle Fire HDX review

 

If you take a squint at the edges of the Kindle Fire HDX, you’ll see that Amazon’s placed almost no buttons or ports there. You get a microUSB slot on the left edge and a headphone jack on the right, but that’s your whack. The power and volume buttons are actually found on the rear, near the edges so your fingers fall on them naturally. Unlike the LG G2, we never found ourselves fumbling around to find them, neither did we accidentally hit them when handling the tablet.

 

Kindle Fire HDX review

 

OS: Mojito time

 

Although built on Google’s Android OS, Amazon has created its own interface for the Kindle Fire tablets, known simply as Fire OS. The latest version is nicknamed ‘Mojito’, which sounds even more lip-smackingly delicious than Google’s sweet-based names, and it looks a damn sight different to Android. Whereas Android is fully customisable, allowing you to set your own backgrounds and themes and decorate your desktop with widgets, the Fire OS is basically geared around your content.

 

Kindle Fire HDX review

 

Load up the tablet and you’re presented with a scrolling shelf (or ‘carousel’) of your books, apps, movies and other Amazon content. Your most recently-accessed content appears first, so you can quickly dive back into that crime novel or TV show you were halfway through, and you can remove anything you want from the carousel to declutter it. Beneath the carousel is a collection of your installed apps, while above it you’ll find a traditional menu, broken into collections such as ‘Web’, ‘Games’ and ‘Videos’. At this level it’s all fairly straightforward, but once you dive into some of the menus and sub-menus, it can be a little tricky to find exactly what you want (at least until you’re used to the OS).

 

Kindle Fire HDX review

 

Amazon isn’t a fool, and on the Kindle Fire HDX it gives you hundreds of ways to spend money through the online store. The unlock screen an Amazon ad, and the very first menu option is ‘shop’. You’ll also get recommendations on new ways to part with your money every time you finish a book, and so on. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, and in fact we’d be shocked if Amazon didn’t fully embrace this marketing opportunity. We’re personally happy to be told which books, movies and games we might enjoy based on our past purchases, even if our bank managers aren’t so keen...

 

 

Display: HD-Xtra

 

Our 8.9-inch review model’s screen packed a mighty 2560 x 1600 resolution, making it sharper even than the Apple iPad Air’s Retina display. At 339ppi, HD images look absolutely stunning. Not only are they pin-sharp, but they’re brought to life by rich and realistic colours. We found the viewing angles to be wide enough for more than one person to crowd around and enjoy a movie, with only a slight darkening of the image as you tilt the tablet. Our only complaint is that it’s a little dim on top brightness, so we were occasionally troubled by pesky reflections.

 

Kindle Fire HDX review

 

If you’re a Lovefilm user, you have quick access to your watchlist through the video section, for streaming movies and TV shows. You can also download movies direct from Amazon, or simply copy them across from your computer (but playing videos on your tablet really should be a more prominent option).

 

 

Performance: Snapdragon

 

The latest Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor is backed up by 2GB of RAM, and the resulting power means the Kindle Fire HDX can effortlessly handle the latest hardcore games. The likes of Real Racing 3 looked absolutely stunning and played without a single hitch. Apps and media loaded quickly, and web browsing was as slick as you’d expect. Battery life is also a winner, making this a highly portable device – we managed almost seven hours of video playback with the screen brightness turned up to maximum, a solid effort beaten only by the likes of Apple’s iPad Air.

 

Kindle Fire HDX review

 

With anything from 16GB to 64GB of on-board storage, depending on the model you opt for, you should have enough space to carry plenty of books, apps, movies and more around. The Kindle Fire HDX can also quickly identify which space-hogging apps you haven’t used in a while and chuck them onto the nifty Cloud service instead, freeing up more space.

 

 

Features: Mayday!

 

 

The new Mayday button is one of the more unique features we’ve seen on a tablet, connecting you to a live support guru for technical help. You actually see the helper pop up in a video window (although they can’t see you, most likely so practical jokers can’t wave their bits in the poor support workers’ faces), and they sort you out by drawing on your screen and guiding you through any woes. The connection is impressively quick (a matter of seconds) and the assistants appear both friendly and knowledgeable. The service is available all day every day, great news if you have trouble setting up the tablet over Christmas.

 

Kindle Fire HDX review

 

An eight-megapixel rear camera captures impressive shots both indoors and out, packed with a solid amount of detail. There’s a flash for evening shots too, something we don’t see too often on tablets. You don’t get much in the way of features (HDR and Panorama modes, plus the ability to shoot HD video), but they aren’t really missed. We’re much more interested in the front-facing lens, which is sharp and effective for online chats and those all-important profile pics.

 

Kindle Fire HDX review

 

The verdict

 

The Kindle Fire HDX takes an already solid tablet (the Kindle Fire HD) and bumps the screen resolution and performance, making this the ultimate way to digest your books, movies, apps and other content – providing you’re on-board the good ship Amazon. A couple of nifty new features such as the Mayday button make it even more family friendly, while the slender build and long battery life means it’s one of the most portable full-sized tablets out there.