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Amazon’s(s amzn) new Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is definitely a slick device that competes well at $379 compared to Apple’s(s aapl) $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.
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(s fb), Twitter(s twtr), 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.
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.
She 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.