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Summary:

After using an Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 for several weeks, I’ve decided it’s not for me, even though it’s an outstanding device. My wife likes to live in Amazon’s limited world, however, and it didn’t take her long to buy Amazon’s new tablet.

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9

Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is definitely a slick device that competes well at $379 compared to Apple’s $499 iPad Air. It, and the Kindle Fire tablets that came before, are better suited to a specific type of tablet user though.

For example, I ordered the original Kindle Fire two years ago, only to find it really didn’t meet all of my needs. Instead of returning the tablet, however, my wife scoffed it up. For the past several weeks, I’ve used a review unit of the latest Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and ironically a similar situation arose: I have no interest in buying one but my wife ordered her own after using it for 15 minutes.

Different needs dictate different tablets

So what’s the difference between us, aside from her having good looks? She’s more than satisfied with the experience that Amazon provides, while I like a wider range of apps and services. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve spent hours enjoying the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.

Total Recall on Kindle Fire HDX

The 2560 x 1600, well-calibrated display is outstanding; better than any I’ve ever used for a tablet or computer. So the device excels at content consumption — noticeably. I watched the remake of Total Recall through Amazon on the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 as well as my Chromebook Pixel and iPad Air and even with my terrible eyesight, the Kindle wins out: Color replication is superb and clarity is fantastic. The stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus support make for good soundtracks.

(Note: We tend to buy movies through Amazon over other digital retailers because it’s the most versatile for us. We can watch the content through two of our Smart TVs, all of our iOS devices, any of our computers and of course, though a Kindle. Our situation may be unique in that regard.)

Reading ebooks is as good as it gets

I’ve also read several ebooks on the new Kindle Fire HDX; I read one to three titles a week so the reading experience has to be good on a mobile device. And thanks to the crisp display and Amazon’s Kindle application, it is. The 8.9-inch tablet offers plenty of reading space but doesn’t weigh too much — just 13.2 ounces — so it’s easy to hold and read for hours. Magazine reading isn’t bad, but I’ve had a slightly better experience on larger displays.

Of course, using Amazon’s Kindle X-Ray feature for books — and movies, for that matter — really shines here thanks to the display and the fast processor.

Browsing and apps for the masses

Amazon’s Silk browser hasn’t overly impressed me in the past but I’m a different web user than my wife; probably different from most folks, in fact. I need the fastest online experience possible with the ability to easily get though multiple tabs. But my wife? She’s content with one tab at a time; perhaps a few more from time to time. She’s thrilled with the Silk browser for its simplicity and speed the way she surfs the web.

You can draw the same parallel with apps. I like to try different tablet apps every day and there are more to try in the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store than in Amazon’s storefront. The basics are there though, which again is all my wife needs: Facebook, Twitter, Bejeweled 2 and even Candy Crush.

Funny sidenote: She tried (and failed to grasp the mechanics of) Despicable Me 2: Minion Rush, but the point is: it’s mainstream enough to be in the store.

jenga

A great device to live in Amazon’s world

Yes, the new Kindle has an 8 megapixel rear camera that takes solid pics and a 2.2 GHz quad-core processor that keeps the tablet performing without any lag. My wife doesn’t care about specifications though, and I doubt she’ll ever use the camera when she has a perfectly good one on her iPhone 5s.

amazon kindle fire zapposShe loves the Kindle not because of the hardware components inside but because of the experience it provides. With her new tablet, she can quickly check email, update Facebook, watch a television show, play a game or read a book. And it all happens in a flash with a battery that lasts for at least 11 hours in my testing.

It doesn’t matter that she’s locked into Amazon’s world because it’s a world she likes living in. In fact, that’s no different than those who live in Apple’s iOS world: People don’t mind it if the locked-in ecosystem provides a great experience thanks to total control from the device maker.

Although I live in the realm of Amazon for many things, I need a little bigger world than what Amazon provides. Many people, however, are similar to my wife: They just want the basics on their tablet in a way that makes using it a fun and enjoyable experience. If you’re one of those people, I highly recommend taking the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 for a spin. Sometimes a limited world feels unlimited thanks to a combination of fantastic hardware and curated digital content.

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  1. umesh prakash shaw Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    everything without google and youtube apps . its waste for lot of peoples.

    1. Google and YouTube are available on the web, so while not ideal — if you want apps — I’m not sure I’d say it’s a waste. Just about every Google service is available through the web, no?

  2. agree with Umesh. Without google apps (google, maps and youtube), even apple’s iPhone\iPad is useless.

  3. Some of the comments call it useless. I don’t get that. For most of the people that use tablets this does everything they need and does it better then everyone else and at a better price. Okay, you need Garage Band ? get the iPad. need to boast that you have the latest OS? get the Nexus 7/10. But if watching videos, listening to music, staying informed, and keeping in touch with email and chat is what you do on a tablet then this is the tablet to get.

  4. You can sideload Chrome, Google Maps, and YouTube from 1mobile.com very easily. I am running all these and virtually everything else I want on my Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. Amazon’s experience is not nearly as closed as Apple’s as you can sideload to your heart’s content without rooting the device or voiding Amazon’s warranty on the device.

    1. I was able to side load Google Maps and Chrome on a family member’s HDX 7″ via 1mobile. While Chrome works falsely, the version of Google maps from 1mobile (marked as from Google) has some issues with text corruption; It looks like every label on the map has overlapping text and it gets progressively worse by task switching or pinch/zoom operations where all the map labels become unreadable. Turn-by-turn, local attractions, and other features seem to work just fine.

  5. alexmedawayhasleftthebuilding Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    Love the self-deprecating humour

  6. I am in love with my kindle! It has everything I want in a tablet. I hate Apple products so that was never an option that interested me and their price ouging for an experience that can be had elsewhere just for the sake of imagined luxury seemed ridiculous to me. I previously had a pure android tablet, but the experience wasn’t what I wanted. It’s an open environment, but it feels more disjointed somewhat like using a Linux box and just couldn’t hold my interest. Besides, outside of gmail and maps, I don’t use many google products so that advantAge was lost for me. I use apps (have about 30 on my kindle) mostly geared towards office suites, notes, games and entertainment, but nothing niche apps that I couldn’t find). Kindle on the other hand offers more of a cohesive and lightning fast environment for me to enjoy. I do have firefox, dolphin and chrome installed but I tend to use silk primarily. Firefox is not bad, but chrome doesn’t seem to.provide any big improvement. If I want speed of browsing I use the ice browser, which chrome can’t touch. At any rate I use kindle for work daily – love the office pro app! And I use it for second screen features to watch tv and play games on the big screen, I have a ton of books, magazines and audio books and I also use it for the few classes I am taking online. I can’t think of a single thing I’m missing or could want. I think many many people have been looking for an experience just like this and kindle provides it. It somewhat like the roadblocks syndrome where pure android and ions were not quite right for me, but finally something came along that is. Ironically, it very much is like an ions walled garden and like with ions many do not see any compelling reason to leave it, at least there is nothing out yet to offer more.

  7. I bought the device looking at the reviews.
    With in one week, how hard I tried, it doesn’t work for me.
    The browser is very bad. Third-party browsers, you can only side load them. No browsers to be found from Amazon market place and they keep crashing after side load.
    So, in the end, it is a big disaster. It is still lying on my desk, waiting to be craig-listed.
    It always wonders me, how can it get so many good reviews, when we cannot even do basic browsing?

    1. Why doesn’t the browser work for you? Not doubting your statement, just curious. I agree, it doesn’t meet my needs for heavy-duty browsing, but for people who use a single tab to browse for bits throughout the day, I think it’s fine.

      1. Hi Kevin, I purchase a lot from Amazon, am a Prime member, read a lot but also do a lot of browsing using multiple tabs. Everything I read about the Kindle HDX 8.9 sounds great except the browsing. Any help is appreciated, thank you.

    2. Chakri, are you located in L.A? I’ll be happy to take the Kindle off your hands.

  8. Sorry, I also use Google a lot.

  9. Hi. Thanks for the review. What do you recommend instead, Kevin?

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