- Best-looking tablet screen on the market
- Slim, lightweight design
- Good performance
- Long battery life
- High-quality Camera
- No microSD memory card slot
- Heavy Amazon advertising
Quick TakeThanks to its outstanding hardware, the 2014 version of the Fire HDX 8.9 is one of the very best mid-size tablets on the market. The strong ties to Amazon’s webstores might turn away some potential customers, though.
Amazon released the Fire HDX 8.9 last year, and then updated it this fall with a faster processor, better sound, and updated software, but kept the same display and design.
Although it’s only $379 and its screen is not quite 9 inches, this is Amazon’s largest, most expensive tablet.
Build & Design
There are very few tablets that can make Apple’s iPad Air seem big and heavy, but the Fire HDX 8.9 is one of them. At 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.3 inches (231 mm x 158 mm x 7.8 mm) and 0.8 lbs (375g) the device is very thin and light, with a design that has almost nothing in common with the clunky shapes sported by its smaller counterparts.
The casing is all plastic, and comes in any color you want, as along as what you want is black. While the corners are rounded, in general the design is angular, making the tablet look like something Darth Vader would use.
It is comfortable to hold, though. And the build feels fairly solid – there was no flexing in our attempts to twist or bend the device.
The first version of the Fire HDX 8.9 had one of the best displays on the market, and Amazon wisely stuck with it for the 2014 edition. It has a 2560 x 1600 resolution, giving it an extremely high pixel density of 339 ppi. The result is razor-sharp images and fonts.
Beyond just the pixels, this screen handles colors beautifully, and Amazon has successfully reduced reflectance to almost nothing. DisplayMate makes screen-calibration software, and compares the screens of all kinds of computers – it called this the “best performing tablet display we have ever tested.”
That said, this is an 8.9-inch screen, which means this version of the Fire doesn’t quite qualify as a full-size tablet. The display doesn’t feel cramped, but it does feel smaller than the 9.7-inch screen on the iPad Air.
Ports and Buttons
Rather than being on the sides, the power button and volume up/down rocker are located on the back. The controls are easy to access there, making this arrangement both practical and cool looking.
The headset jack is on the right side. This provides above-average quality when playing music over headphones thanks to Dolby technology, and Dolby Atmos support is intended to make the audio for movies sound more realistic.
The micro-USB port on the left side is used to charge the Fire HDX 8.9, but it does much more as well. The tablet can be cabled to a desktop or laptop to transfer pictures or other files. And a SlimPort adapter (sold separately) can be attached to connect to HDMI or VGA TVs and monitors.
On of the flaws in the design of this tablet is the lack of a microSD memory car slot. Still, all the models in the Fire series have free access to Amazon Cloud Drive where they can store an unlimited number of pictures taken with the tablet as well as Amazon books and movies, and 5 GB of other files for free.