Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9in review
The best Android tablet to date, with astounding performance and lightweight design. Only the usual Amazon lock-in puts us off
Review Date: 4 Dec 2013
Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray
Price when reviewed: Wi-Fi: 16GB, £329; 32GB, £369; 64GB, £409. Wi-Fi and 4G: 16GB, £399; 32GB, £439; 64GB, £479 (all prices inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
The Amazon Kindle Fire started life as a smaller cheaper alternative to the iPad, but with the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9in, it's grown into much more than that. This is now a fully fledged rival, packing in the latest hardware, a high-DPI display and a design that's different to Apple's, yet arguably just as appealing.
In terms of looks, the 8.9in HDX is very similar to the smaller Kindle Fire HDX. The rear is mostly matte, soft-touch, black plastic, with wide angled borders that slope towards the edges, and a glossy plastic strip along the top, framing the speaker grilles and camera lens. It's extremely well made and remarkably light.
We were blown away by how light the iPad Air was when we first picked it up, but this tablet weighs even less, at 369g. Admittedly, the screen is smaller, but 0.8in isn't much to sacrifice for a 21% weight saving.
As with the 7in HDX, we don't like the positioning of the volume and power buttons, which are on the rear, close to the left and right edge. It's a poor design decision, and we found ourselves feeling around blindly every time we wanted to switch the tablet off, or adjust the volume.
Still, there's plenty about the HDX to compensate for this, and in terms of hardware it's at least the match of the iPad Air. The screen is a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution IPS unit, boasting a ridiculously high pixel density of 339ppi. It has the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU and Adreno 330 graphics as found in its little brother, where the iPad's CPU is a dual-core 1.4GHz unit. There's an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with an LED flash and a front-facing, 1.3-megapixel shooter for video calls, and as with the smaller HDX, no microSD slot for storage expansion.
In many respects, it's a specifications list that sees the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9in leap ahead of the iPad Air. The really exciting part, though, is that the Kindle is £70 cheaper for the base 16GB Wi-Fi model, and the price gap grows even greater as you move up the range.
Display, performance and battery life
The question is, how does all this powerful hardware perform? The display is excellent. Measured with our X-Rite colorimeter, it yielded a maximum brightness of 470cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 1,244:1 – both better figures than the iPad Air.
Movies, games, books and websites (at least those optimised for high-DPI displays) all look great. One small complaint is that there's a small amount of backlight bleed in the bottom-left corner, but this is only obvious in dim conditions.
Basic apps unavailable
Just for example even Google Maps is missing. As for Sky Go you can't even load it yourself. I feel that any tablet which is almost usable out of the box doesn't deserve a recommendation.
By tirons1 on 25 Nov 2013
The screen is smaller...
By a lot more than 0.8". When you take the proportions into account, kindle's screen is 3/4 the size of an iPad.
By petermillard1 on 26 Nov 2013
I personally enjoy the Kindle a lot more. iPads are too big for me and my Kindle works faster than my iPad does. I got mine from http://www.bundleofwires.com for a good price. I use it everyday now
By frenchy123 on 13 Dec 2013
A marked improvement on the Fire HD
It's smaller, noticeably lighter, faster, has a much better screen (although the Fire HD wasn't bad) and the sound quality has improved. It's great for reading, watching movies, listening to music and audiobooks and playing Android games. True, the apps available on the Amazon Appstore are limited compared with the Google Play Store BUT for the people who read PCPro that shouldn't be much of a problem because you can sideload apps from another Android device. A few won't work - such as Sky Go, but the majority do. First ones to be sideloaded on ours were the Google Chrome and Firefox browsers and the Nook ereader app. All work fine
Missing from the 7" model is a rear camera - a mistake in my view. I also don't like the way the charging/micro USB lead connects at an odd angle to the screen.
My wife won't go back to her Kindle Fire. She loves the HDX. Myself - I plan on getting a Nexus 7 2013 to replace my 2012 version.
By Jaydax on 23 Dec 2013
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