Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9in review

4 Apr 2013

Amazon upgrades its Android-based tablet with a bigger, better screen

Price when reviewed 
229
4

The Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablet made its UK debut in 7in form last September. Now, the 8.9in variant is here. With prices starting at £229 for the 16GB model, the new format is distinctly pricier than its 7in sibling, which comes in at £159.

Where the 7in model’s broad bezel looked cheap and chunky, however, this one is more comfortably proportioned, with thumb-sized edges sitting neatly around its 8.9in panel. And a fine panel it is: its 1,920 x 1,200 resolution represents a superfine pixel density of 254ppi – a smidgen behind the 264ppi of Apple’s “Retina” iPads, but a step up from the Nexus 7 and Amazon’s own Kindle Fire HD 7in, which both offer 216ppi. With a maximum brightness of 480cd/m2, and an excellent 980:1 contrast ratio, it’s beautifully bold and crisp, and a delight to read on. It also lends itself admirably to magazines and comics, an area where the traditional Kindle struggles.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9in

The Kindle Fire is also a gateway to Amazon’s Lovefilm streaming service. Predictably, watching video is a pleasant experience, with rich – if not exactly vibrant – colour and excellent viewing angles. Dual-band, dual-antenna wireless helps ensure a smooth streaming experience (an LTE model is also offered in the US, although not yet here).

The speakers are nice and punchy, too, although if you turn up the volume to maximum, distortion becomes a problem. The glossy screen is rather susceptible to reflections, but a micro-HDMI port at the base makes it easy to hook up a TV if you prefer to watch on the big screen.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9in

Naturally, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9in isn’t as light as an E Ink Kindle, but at 567g it can be thrown in a bag easily enough. Similarly, while battery life is measured in hours rather than days, it’s very creditable by the standards of touchscreen tablets. With wireless disabled, and the screen set to half brightness, our video rundown test looped for 12hrs 26mins on a single charge – enough to keep you entertained on even the longest flight. When streaming wirelessly from Lovefilm, battery life naturally falls, but Amazon still promises more than ten hours of viewing time.

Through all of this, Amazon’s custom front-end puts your content front and centre, and cleverly encourages you to build up your library by placing recommendations directly on the homescreen, ready to be purchased with a few clicks. If you’re primarily looking for a tablet for consuming books and videos, it’s all accessible and effective.

Detail

Price ex VAT £191
Price inc VAT 16GB, £191 (£229 inc VAT); 32GB, £216 (£259 inc VAT). Without ads: 16GB, £199 (£239 inc VAT); 32GB, £224 (£269 inc VAT)
Warranty 1 yr return to base
Overall rating 4
Performance 3
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 5

Physical

Dimensions 239 x 163 x 9mm (WDH)
Weight 567g

Display

Primary keyboard On-screen
Screen size 8.9in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,080
Resolution screen vertical 1,920
Display type LCD

Battery

Battery capacity 6,000mAh

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz 2MHz
Integrated memory 16.0GB
RAM capacity 1.00GB

Other

WiFi standard 802.11n
Integrated GPS yes

Software

Mobile operating system Android 4