PROS / The Fire HDX 8.9 has a stellar 2560 x 1600 resolution.
CONS / Its performance as a tablet is a step behind competing tablets.
VERDICT / The Fire HDX 8.9 isn't the most current tablet, but of Amazon’s Kindle and Fire offerings, it still has the best features.
The Fire HDX 8.9 occupies an uncomfortable spot in Amazon's Kindle lineup. With its stellar internal specifications, it's easily the fastest and most powerful tablet Amazon offers. At the same time, the last version of the HDX 8.9 came out in 2014, and the series has since been replaced by budget offerings from Amazon. Against Amazon's other device offerings, the HDX 8.9 is essentially a premium tablet without a home. While the HDX 8.9's age brings up problems in some areas compared to current mainstream tablets, its excellent build quality and features help it earn the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award.
As with all Amazon devices, the HDX 8.9 benefits from the retailer's usual suite of software and content options. In addition to using this Fire as an eBook reader to access to books, magazines and newspapers, you can load your device with content like apps, photos and audiobooks to take with you wherever you go. Amazon's X-Ray service displays song lyrics, movie trivia and actor information on the content you view. Like all Amazon devices, the Fire comes with Whispersync, a feature that syncs your Amazon purchases, bookmarks and history across all devices. If you forget your Fire, you can still read your books, magazines and newspapers on your cell phone or computer.
Internally, the HDX 8.9 is powered by a Snapdragon 805 processor that performed excellently in testing from our colleagues at Laptop Mag. In performance benchmark Geekbench 3, the tablet produced a score of 3,082 points. By comparison, Amazon's lower-end Fire HD tablets only averaged around 1,500 points in the same test. While the HDX's performance now falls in line with mainstream tablets from other manufacturers, it's still more than capable of handling high-end gaming or other demanding tasks.
The high-pixel-density HDX display is remarkable and boasts an impressive 2560 x 1600 resolution. The difference between the HDX and the typical high-definition screen is immediately apparent. This new display has a strong pixel density of 339 pixels per inch, and in our testing we found pictures to be crisp with strong clarity and accurate colors. Against the rest of the Fire tablet family, the HDX's specifications are especially notable. Lower-end models are built with displays that have dramatically lower resolutions of 1280 x 800 to 1024 x 600. While these models are still capable of tasks like basic web browsing, the HDX's screen is the best by a considerable margin.
Testing from Laptop Mag illustrated the Amazon Fire HDX's lengthy battery life for a tablet. During its benchmarking, which simulates web browsing until the battery powers down, the HDX lasted for 10 hours and 19 minutes before turning off.
Physically, the Fire HDX falls in line with comparable upscale tablets. With dimensions of 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.3 inches and a weight of 13.2 ounces, the Fire is designed to take advantage of its spacious screen. Despite its size, holding it in your hands is comfortable thanks to the beveled edges on its backside. However, as with other large-scale devices, holding the Fire with one hand is a bit of a challenge.
This device has 16GB of internal storage, and you can take advantage of the free cloud storage Amazon offers every Fire user. If your Amazon library has a large quantity of movies or music, though, the Fire is also available in a 32GB or 64GB capacity for a higher cost.
Along with standard Wi-Fi support, the HDX 8.9 can be purchased with support for 4G mobile data connectivity for an extra fee. Tablets with this functionality can connect to cellular data networks and use the internet without needing a local Wi-Fi connection.
The HDX 8.9 also features rear and front cameras. The rear camera on the device is 8 megapixels and has an LED flash, as well as a handful of additional features for snapping photos in all kinds of situations or shooting video in 1080p high definition. The 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera has decent fidelity for applications like making video calls and taking pictures.
Help & Support
This Kindle is covered under a standard one-year limited warranty, but U.S. users can opt to get the two-year extended warranty for an additional cost. Amazon offers troubleshooting options through a variety of channels, including phone, email, live chat and the company's Mayday service. Mayday directly connects you to an Amazon consultant on the tablet, and he or she then walks you through your technical problems.
It isn't the newest model available, but the Fire HDX 8.9 still has a remarkable amount of flexibility for a tablet. The premium Fire features all the functionality you find in most tablets, paired with stellar specifications and an equally excellent display. For power tablet users who are already using Amazon services, the Fire HDX 8.9 is still the best Kindle on the market.