Review Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9

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Review Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9 - Amazon is hoping you'd say that since they've released the Kindle Fire HD 8.9", a tablet that's a little bit smaller than the iPad and appreciably more roomy than 7" tablets. The Fire HD 8.9 starts at a very reasonable $299 for the 16 gig WiFi model, making it an appealing budget tablet with better than budget features. Like all Kindle tablets, it runs a heavily modified version of Android, so this tablet is best for those looking for easy consumption of Amazon's products and services (ebooks, music, Amazon Prime video, magazines and apps) rather than a jack of all trades tablet like general purpose Android tablets.

Review Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9


Everything here is the same as the Kindle Fire HD 7" model we reviewed two months ago except the tablet size, display resolution and CPU (thus our reviews will share some text). A larger screen begs for a higher res display and Amazon delivers a very sharp 1920 x 1200 IPS display with pleasing, accurate and rich colors. That's the same resolution as the Asus Transformer Infinity TF700, but a bit lower than the class-leading 2560 x 1600 Nexus 10. To push all those extra pixels, the CPU is a bit faster vs. the 7" Fire HD. It's a 1.5GHz dual core OMAP 4470 and it benchmarks faster than the 7" Fire HD, though not as fast as Tegra 3 and Exynos CPU-based tablets by a long shot.

The tablet is is a third of an inch thick with the same styling and Dolby stereo speakers as the 7" version. The bezel sizes are the same as is the soft touch finish and fiddly power and volume controls. At 1.25 lbs. it's lighter than many 10" tablets on the market, but it's an inch smaller as well. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is available in 16, 32 and 64 gig storage increments and there's an AT&T LTE 4G + WiFi model for $499 with 32 gigs of storage. A 64 gig LTE model is available, but the WiFi model stops at 32 gigs.


Design and Ergonomics, Video and Audio

In terms of looks, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" is actually a good looking tablet for the $299 price. At 0.35" it's a member of the skinny tablet crowd and it's a little thinner than the 0.4" Kindle Fire HD. The Fire HD has a micro USB port so you can charge the tablet and transfer content to the tablet (books, music, videos and personal files). You can also use Amazon's unlimited cloud storage service to transfer content to the tablet and stream anything you've bought from Amazon, obviating the need for more internal storage or an SD card (the HD Fire models lack SD card slots). Amazon includes a USB cable in the box but no charger.


Audio

We rarely devote a section to a tablet's speakers, but the Kindle Fire HD models have remarkably good stereo speakers with Dolby audio. Not only are they a vast improvement over the meek original Kindle Fire speakers, they're full and rich sounding with noticable channel separation.


Performance and Horsepower

The dual core TI OMAP 4770 CPU runs at 1.5GHz, which is 300MHz faster in terms of clock speed than the 7" Fire HD. That's also a somewhat faster CPU with a slightly faster PowerVR SGX 544 graphics processor. The 8.9" Fire HD needs that extra horsepower to drive all those additional pixels vs. the 1280 x 800 resolution Fire HD. It has solid though not cutting edge 3D performance. It handily outperforms the Nvidia Tegra 2's GPU, but can't touch the quad core Tegra 3 with 12 core GeForce graphics. The Fire HD 8.9" has 1 gig of DDR2 RAM.

Review Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9

Software

Really, little has changed from the last gen Kindle Fire, but we'll note the new features here. The Fire HD now has access to X-Ray for movies in addition to books, so you can get info about the movie and actors when watching an X-Ray compatible Amazon video (courtesy of IMDB, which Amazon owns). You can read a book while listening to it read aloud via text to speech and now with Audible companion books too. There's Whispersync to keep your place in books, movies and audiobooks. In fact, Whispersync can save your place in compatible games too via the new GameCircle that also handles social gaming.


Battery Life

The Kindle Fire HD 8.9" has a 6000 mAh Lithium Ion battery that's sealed inside. As mentioned, it doesn't come with a charger so you'll either use your smartphone charger or buy Amazon's $20 charger. You can charge via your computer's USB port but plan on keeping it plugged in overnight if the battery is nearly drained. The company claims 10 hours of use with mixed tasks that include web browsing, reading books, watching video and listening to music. In our tests, the tablet averaged a respectable 9 hours and standby life is much better than average.


Specs:


  • Display: 8.9" IPS touch screen. Resolution: 1920 x 1200, supports both portrait and landscape modes. Has an ambient light sensor, accelerometer and gyroscope. LTE model has a digital compass.
  • Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable (sealed inside).
  • Performance: 1.5GHz TI OMAP 4470 dual core CPU with PowerVR SGX544 graphics. 1 gig RAM, 16, 32 and 64 gig storage options. 64 gigs available only on LTE model.
  • Size: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.35 inches. Weight: 1.25 pounds.
  • Cellular: Optional LTE 4G on AT&T.
  • GPS: LTE model has aGPS, WiFi model uses location triangulation via WiFi only.
  • Camera: Front HD camera with Skype.
  • Audio: Built-in stereo speakers with Dolby audio, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.
  • Networking: Integrated dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n with MIMO and Bluetooth.
  • Software: Android OS 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich heavily customized by Amazon.

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