Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: Three months in and it still feels right

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: Three months in and it still feels right

Summary: Since picking up the latest tablet from Amazon I regularly get asked what I think about it. This is my take on using the Kindle Fire HDX for both work and play.

TOPICS: Mobility, Amazon, Tablets
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The great hardware and reasonable price drew me into buying a Kindle Fire HDX three months ago. It was a good value and I felt it would fit my needs. After using it for a while it is my favorite tablet for leisure activities.

The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is the perfect size for me. The high-resolution screen is the right size to display things without the device being too big. The light weight in combination with that size makes the tablet feel right in the hand. That doesn't sound like much but it's a very big deal when using a tablet for extended sessions.

I often use it for hours; it's a common sight to see me with the Kindle in hand. The tablet is as good or better than other tablets for conducting leisure activities. Online activities feel natural with the Kindle.

It's no surprise that the Kindle Fire HDX is a good ebook reader; it's easily the best ereader I've used. The Kindle app is tightly integrated with the hardware. The reading experience is so good I forget about the tablet, and that's the way it should be.

See related: Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: Two weeks in and replacing the iPad Air (almost)Why you should buy a Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (review) | Kindle Fire HDX: Smooth operation, great screen (hands on) | Belkin QODE Keyboard Case for Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: Poor design at a price | Review: Poetic Keybook Case, take the Kindle Fire HDX to work

Surfing the web with the Silk browser is as good as it gets on a tablet. Web pages render almost instantly, and touch operation is first-rate. Amazon has done an amazing job with the browser and it shows.

With one exception, apps on the Kindle Fire HDX are very good. The fast hardware runs all apps smoothly and without lags. The screen scrolls fluidly and touch operation is smooth. The one exception is the Facebook app that displays text too small on the high-res screen to be useful. Facebook needs to fix this ASAP.

Watching video on the Kindle draws me into the content. The crisp display and the close proximity to it while watching video is in an immersive experience. The audio is great, which complements the video.

Using the Kindle Fire HDX is so pleasant that I use it far more than other tablets I own. I always use it at home and often carry it with me when I go out. It is highly portable so I often grab it when heading out the door.

Poetic Keyboard Case (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

I use it for my writing work a lot, although I wish there was a better physical keyboard available. I use the Poetic Keyboard Case for writing, and while it's OK it could be better. I can't wait for ZAGG to release the 8-inch Auto-Fit Keyboard, which should fit the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. Given my experience with ZAGG keyboards I believe this one will facilitate my writing work. I expect I'll carry the Kindle all the time for my daily work outings once I have a good keyboard.

The mail app on the Kindle handles my Gmail email nicely. It's easy to keep on top of work issues as a result. The integrated Microsoft Office viewers on the Kindle Fire HDX work very well for reviewing documents sent via email. I simply click on the attachment and the viewer displays it perfectly.

To sum up why I like the Kindle Fire HDX so much, I have to come back to the fact that it just feels right. The combination of the size, the weight and how it's distributed across the device, the high-resolution screen, and the Fire OS, work together to make the tablet enjoyable to use. Using it is natural, and as surprising that sounds it's not always the case with tablets.

The Kindle works perfectly in portrait orientation, which is how I prefer to use tablets. The long dimension of the screen displayed vertically is more natural, and the device is more comfortable to hold. 

I am very happy with the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and consider it one of the best purchases I've made in years. It is my go-to tablet for play, and will likely be for work, too, should a decent keyboard case come along.

Topics: Mobility, Amazon, Tablets

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  • Silk

    I am my 3rd color Kindle. I liked all of them and handed them down to other family members so I could get the latest one. I use them mostly for reading and news. I have been thinking of adding a keyboard so I could use it for e-mail.

    The weakness is Silk. I find it to be one of the worst browser I have used. There are so many pages that will not display on them. I avoid it as much as possible.
  • James - Glad you like your HDX 8.9

    I'm still using the iPad 1. Without updates, it is getting more and more difficult to surf the web with. Also, most apps are not compatible with the original iPad anymore. Been looking on getting a newer tablet and am keeping the HDX 8.9 in mind. I think I still would prefer a 4:3 screen like the iPad over the longer dimensions of the HDX.
    • Re: iPad 1....

      Its a crime Apple never made the iPad 1 compatible with iOS6.
  • Anyone using the Firefox for Android browser for the Kindle tablet?

    Is Firefox for Android in Amazon's app store yet? Or does it still require download from Mozilla's web side and installation via side-loading?
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Just checked

      Don't see it in Amazon's App Store.
  • How can you stand the interface?

    I find Amazon tablets to have the worst interface of all time. It hides everything except links to areas where stuff can be purchased. Who in the world wants to navigate their tablet interface using a carousel motif?? Horrible!
  • Good Review but you left out...........

    The fact the Amazon won't let you load "outside" Android apps. Yes, I know how to side load apps, but is this a tablet you're going to give to your non-techy Aunt and ask her to do that? I've had two Kindles, but my Nexus 7 is far more useful.....
    • He doesn't use it for much.

      Considering he says he mostly uses it for reading Kindle books, doing emails, and viewing content, I'm guessing he doesn't run into that severe app limitation. The way he uses the device, it isn't an issue for him.
      • True.......

        Sounds like it. That's what I used mine for too. I just reached a point where I wanted a tablet that could do more. I'd also admit to being invested in the Android/Google world with a Moto X and a Chromebook. So I'm probably biased.
      • wrong

        I use my tablets (including this one) for more activities than most everybody.
        • you obviously don't use widgets

          Or SD cards
          Or XBMC with MHL hdmi
          Or OTG usb

          All I see here is an iPad user turning a kindle fire into a cloud laptop.
    • The non-tech Aunt

      I think the key is your 'non-techy Aunt' doesn't need to sideload those outside Android apps. She's going to be happy with e-mail, web pages, and a handful of games or simple informational apps, and there's plenty of those for Kindles.

      Amazon also does the "free app a day" that will let someone accumulate a fairly broad range of decent apps for no cost. Between that and the Mayday support feature I think this is *exactly* the tablet to give any non-techy relative.

      The more tech-savvy relatives are the ones who would know enough to want a general Android app not found in the Amazon-mediated store, and for them the side load process will be a piece of cake.
    • Good Reason

      The fact that Amazon curates all the apps it allows is one reason the experience works as well as it does. If an app is really that good, it will be available on both the Play store and the Amazon store. I, for one, like the fact that Amazon checks out all the apps it allows. That way, I will not be bothered with random crashes, lockups and reboots.
  • I agree

    I have been using my 7" Fire HDX for about 6 months now. I love it for all the reasons stated. I especially love the ease of purchases since it is incorporated with Amazon. I use dropbox and onedrive if I run into space issues.
  • Great hardware; limited software

    The Kindle 8.9 HDX truly is a wonderful piece of hardware (particularly at its price point), and it's available now (unlike, say an equivalent from Google).
    But, it's limited. Yes, Amazon's app collection is large, but I like Google's Gmail app. Yes, it can be sideloaded (and I've done that), but the supporting software keeps crashing (annoying, not fatal), and there are lots of apps available from Google that aren't available from Amazon.
    It's a compromise, and not a bad one, but it would be a killer device if Amazon would open it up to allow Google's apps, too.
    • no errors

      After Gmail is working uninstall the Google Framework. Errors go away.
    • Note 10.1 & Pro 8.4

      Get a proper Android tablet from Samsung that does everything and not just a cloud client.
      Both the Note 10.1 and Pro 8.4 does come with the same SD800 SOC as the kindle fire and has hires displays.
      They also do infrared and sd cards and widgets and OTG usb and hdmi.
  • Mouse & VPN

    To truly set itself apart from an Ipad, the Kindle 8.9 HDX would need to be able to use a mouse while VPNing into the office. Can the Kindle 8.9 HDX run a VPN app and can it use a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard at the same time?
    • Yes to bluetooth and VPN

      Yes the Kindle HDX has bluetooth and yes the latest version of their OS supports VPN.
      • ...and yes to keyboard/mouse *simultaneously*

        Just realized I didn't quite exactly answer one of your questions: yes it can use a bluetooth mouse and keyboard *simultaneously*. I saw at least one bluetooth keyboard/mouse advertised for it on Amazon. No reviews for it though, so not sure how well it works, but at least it's an option. (I think most people go with a keyboard combined with touch and don't bother with the mouse)