Dominating online commerce and being a great driver of digital content consumption, mainly books, Amazon was launched to the tablet market completing the Kindle family, which until then was only composed of e-book readers. The Fire range tablets underwent a renovation in mid-September, the Fire HD and the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, the most powerful and the one we will analyze here.
The Fire HDX 8.9 from Fourth generation, or 2014 version, is placed as the most complete and “capable” Amazon tablet, since it has a hardware that lives up to the best in its segment. We already know the essence of Kindle Fire: a complete experience and perfect union with Amazon services and the consumption of digital content, with the arrival of other tablets of its size, such as the Nexus 9, can the Fire HDX 8.9 compete with them using Fire OS 4.5 Sangria ?.
- Design, materials and sensations
- Conclusions and Opinion
- Final score
Review of the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (2014)
We begin this analysis by reviewing the technical section of the Fire HDX 2014. With the update of the model, Amazon has taken the opportunity to equip its star tablet with last level components, the most obvious is the screen panel, the most remarkable part of a tablet after all.
In honor of his name, we have a LCD panel with 8.9-inch IPS technology, a size that many manufacturers have gradually adopted, halfway between the more compact 7-inch and 10 ’, too large for many users. This screen has a huge resolution of 2560 × 1600 pixels, which in that diagonal gives us a screen density of 339ppi.
Already inside, we continue with height hardware: Qualcomm processor Snapdragon 805 at 2.5GHz, of which there is not much left to say and its performance is more than demonstrated today, accompanied by 2GB of RAM and an updated Adreno 420 GPU. Regarding storage, the Fire HDX 8.9 is available in versions of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, without the possibility of expanding with microSD, so if you are going to consume a lot of local content, you better avoid the basic one, since less than 10GB are available to the user.
Features Kindle Fire HDX 2014
- IPS LCD 8.9 ″ screen with a resolution of 2560 × 1600 (339ppp)
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core at 2.5 Ghz
- 2GB RAM
- Adreno 420 GPU
- Battery with 12 hours of mixed use and 18 hours of reading.
- Dolby Audio, stereo speakers, built-in microphone
- Dual band and dual antenna Wifi (HT80 MIMO)
- HD 720p front camera, 8 MP rear camera with LED flash
- 16, 32 or 64 GB
- 4G LTE option
- 231 x 158 x 7.8 mm
- 375 grams
- Fire OS 4 Sangria (based on 4.4 KitKat)
Refering to camera, the main and rear mounted a sensor 8MP accompanied by an LED flash, while the front is suitable for video calls as it offers a maximum quality of 720p. In addition, integration with Amazon Cloud offers us unlimited free storage for all photos taken with Fire devices.
Finally, according to Amazon, its battery (which in some listings seems to be 6000mAh) offers a range of Up to 12 hours with mixed use. Later we will detail its use, but it is true that consumption is very good and at rest it is tremendously efficient. For the rest, there is a 4G version, the speaker system is signed by technology Dolby Audio and uses dual antenna MIMO technology to reach WiFi speeds of up to 600Mbps.
Design and construction of the Fire HDX 8.9 4th Generation
If this tablet stands out in something, it is in your reduced thickness (7.8 millimeters, although thinner at the edges) and above all, its weight, about 375 grams for the WiFi version that are really nice to keep the tablet for hours and that is always appreciated when transporting it from one side to the other.
The construction of the Fire HDX 8.9 2014 combine plastic and glass from the screen. We do not have “premium” materials such as aluminum or any other metal, but despite being plastic, it has a great finish and gives a strong feeling. The front part houses nothing more than the large 8.9-inch screen, on which is the front camera and the brightness sensor, no physical or capacitive buttons.
To find those buttons we must not go to the frames, which are almost completely smooth except for the microphones, the 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB connector. So where are the buttons? the answer is found on the back, there we see the physical volume and power buttons, separated and placed at the ends.
That position is somewhat strangeAt the beginning, we are used to having them in some frame or even on the front, as Samsung does with its Tab models. With that placement, it is very easy to access them when we hold the tablet horizontally, avoiding having to move your fingers or pass in front of the screen. In that case, it is a wise decision, but in my opinion it has more inconveniences than advantages.
The first one we have when we are using the tablet vertically, the buttons remain in an unnatural position, and the same if we have the Fire HDX supported On a surface. In that case it is impossible to turn on the screen without lifting the tablet, since, unfortunately, Amazon does not incorporate a “touch to unlock” function KnockOn style.
Except for the top of the back – where the camera, the flash and the double speaker is, which by the way sounds great – the rest of the tablet has a finish plastic with some rubbery touch which is really pleasant to the touch and improves grip, although it is a real magnet for fingerprints and keeping it clean of marks is complicated.
In general, Amazon has done a good job in the design section of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. It is robust and solid, but at the same time light and thin, although we miss a better job of reducing frames around the screen. It would have helped to reduce the total size of the device by a few millimeters.
Display: 8.9 inches high resolution
The screen of a tablet should be up to par, it is the essence and attractiveness of a device that we will only use through it. The one used by Amazon in the Fire HDX 8.9 complies and very well with what we ask of it. We have a panel of 8.9 inch LCD with IPS technology It offers a resolution of 2560 × 1600 pixels.
Those more than 4 million pixels enclosed in a compact size give a density of 339 pixels per inch, which results in a very good definition of all kinds of content, although we especially appreciate it when reading magazines and books. The colors are very vivid and real, according to Amazon, it represents 100% of the RGB profile so the tones of images and videos should be traced to those of reality.
The level of brightness is high for indoor situations, reaching 400 nits, and outdoors, despite not being a wonder (most terminals, smartphones and tablets, fail here), it can be used without major problems. As for the minimum brightness, it is probably a personal requirement, but I miss a lower level.
We already know that to read books, a tablet is not the most appropriate and sooner or later the panel lighting will end up getting tired of our eyes (not to mention the reflections outdoors), but lowering the brightness at least we can minimize that situation. Regarding the viewing angles, we consider them almost perfect even at the most extreme angles, there are no color changes or clareos in the colors.
Just as the screen is a vital aspect on a tablet, the camera is not so much. Yes, they can get us out of trouble or help us capture some concrete detail when we have nothing better at hand, but they do not reach the level we find in high-end smartphones and in many cases it is more a face-to-face component, than a practical one.
In this Fire HDX 8.9 the thing does not change much, although there has been a small improvement over the model of last year. The rear camera mounts a sensor 8MP (We don't know the exact model) and it is accompanied by an LED flash. With good light, we have vivid and successful colors, although a slight lack of detail which tries to fix with a false definition effect that causes the appearance of many points and noise in the image. While in low light, that lack of definition is further portrayed by the aggressive postprocessing to replace the poor lighting, giving rise to images with little detail and a lot of "watercolor effect".
The front camera uses a 1.2MP sensor and fulfills its purpose for more basic photos and as a complement to video calls, since he gets one HD quality (720p). As for the native camera application, it doesn't have much mystery, because its options are rather limited. The interface is simple, with access to the change of camera, gallery and others in areas of easy touch and we hold the tablet horizontally we will see at the same time the viewfinder and our digital photo reel.
Total absence of advanced settings Like the choice of exposure, balances or other manual touch-ups, all we have are HDR, Panoramic and Lenticular modes, nothing more.
In a basic camera that fulfills its purpose if you need to take an image on occasion, but its software also does not give much room for improvement.
User experience and software
We reach the point where the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 moves away from any other Android tablet against which it competes: its software. In it we find a modified version of the Android that we all know, a fork Amazon has got us used to it, just like we saw on the Fire Phone.
With the renewal of the Fire tablets, it also arrived Fire OS 4 Sangria, the latest version of the Amazon fork that matures a little more, but continues to deeply strengthen that integration with the rest of the Amazon ecosystem and all its services. Specifically, the version we find is Fire OS 4.5.1, which among its latest developments are the music playback controls on the lockscreen or access to the camera also from there.
That joins the changes introduced in version 4 of Fire OS, such as the update of most native applications to make them more productive (email, Silk browser, calendar …), the arrival of the family library, the improvement of energy management or user profiles (highlighting the parental mode to control children in the house).
If you have never used Fire OS, The experience is totally different from that of Android stock (or modified by some customization layer). After a very simple lock screen, we find the «desktop», a place where we see a carousel that combines the latest open apps, documents, books, movies and in general any content recently used on the tablet. Under the carousel, a grid of apps that we can modify to always have on hand what we use the most.
Already at the top of the screen we have access to the different sections of applications, games, books, music, videos, web (the browser Amazon Silk), photos and documents, being able to create, view, edit or print documents Office (Word, Powerpoint and Excel). In each of the sections, it will always be divided between the contents of the device and those of the cloud (Cloud).
As you could imagine, by content in the cloud refers to all those that you have downloaded, free or paying, from the Amazon store. Yes, the Amazon store, the same that we all know and can install in our androids to take advantage of specific offers, is the only content store available on the Kindle Fire tablets.
How ?, that there is no Google Play? effectively, neither Google Play nor any of the official Google apps (YouTube, GMail, Calendar, Maps …), at least not officially, since there are ways to install the APK. Therefore, we must use the Amazon App Store to download the apps and yes, its catalog is very large, but they are not all or, if they are, they are not the latest versions. One of its biggest drawbacks.
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 render great and it is not for less, it has a last level hardware and anything that was not "flying" would be worrisome. Amazon has done a good job optimizing Sangria, the transitions are fast, there is no lag and everything loads almost instantly, as it should be a tablet to devour multimedia content.
If you are a "hooked" to Amazon and its services, the Fire is your thing, but if you are used to Android, say, classic, the change is great and even on many occasions you will feel limited. If we look at the Fire HDX 8.9 as a device from which to enjoy books, movies, music, surf the web (Silk is very fast and fluid), check email, events, etc … is suitable.
The most gamers don't have to worry either, the performance is excellent even in the most demanding games. However, an Android tablet can be much more than a tablet, we have seen on other occasions how to complement and enhance it with accessories and the software should also help. That’s why we take very missing functions to squeeze the tablet, type a multi-screen mode or the "simple" touch to wake up, something that makes these Fire HDX more than a device in which to melt the credit card in Amazon.
We always want the speakers to be on the front, but if they are placed as in this tablet they also convince us. They do not project the sound directly to the face, but they are not obstructed either thanks to the angled back. Include the Dolby Digital Plus technology to create a surround sound and is able to adjust the acoustic profile according to the content being viewed or heard.
Amazon says the new Fire HDX can endure "wake up" up to 12 hours with mixed use and is no less. With a regular use of web browsing, mail, reading and other light actions, we can vastly overcome Two / three days of autonomy. The consumption is very tight and is appreciated, especially if we control the brightness manually.
Resting it's a wonder, a lighter, a tiny consumption. We can stop using it for several days, with active connections, and pick it up again with only a few less battery points, in that sense it is very surprising, reaching its life in «stand-by» weeks.
To put your battery in perspective, it gives for 12 hours of reading, Internet browsing, watching movies or listening to music, but if we are only going to use it to read, we can extend its life until 18 hours, although this data can always vary with the habits of each.
Conclusion and opinion on the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 2014
On paper, the 2014 version of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 looks like one of the best tablets on the market. Pointer hardware, a sensational screen, great sound and durable battery, come on, Everything we ask for a tablet.
The truth is that for most users or at least, for those who are going to use “multimedia center”, a device with which to read, listen to music, view photos, movies, work with documents, email and surfing the Internet is very, very recommended. In addition, the beautiful design (despite being plastic) and the reduced weight are always a very good point in tablets.
Fire OS 4 Sangria moves very well, but it’s a big “crash” if you come from an Android smartphone or tablet, you encounter certain limitations that become very traumatic if you are a user of all Google services and, the Amazon App Store has much to improve until you can completely cover all the gaps left by the absence of Google Play.
Its price? From € 379 the 16GB WiFi version, an amount similar to that found in the tablets with which it competes, the main rival being the Google Nexus 9, totally opposite in software with the Android version more «pure Google»And with all the sweets of Lollipop.