Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: Two weeks in and replacing the iPad Air (almost)

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: Two weeks in and replacing the iPad Air (almost)

Summary: The longer I use Amazon's latest tablet, the less I use the iPad Air. If not for one thing it's lacking, the new Kindle could replace the iPad Air.

(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

I have been impressed with the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 from the moment I took it out of the box. The favorable impression grows the longer I use Amazon's latest tablet. The hardware is outstanding and the software is quite good. It is the tablet I reach for most of the time, leaving my iPad Air feeling neglected in the corner.

My time with the Kindle Fire HDX has demonstrated it is as good as the iPad Air in almost every way. This is significant considering it was $250 cheaper than Apple's latest iPad. My Kindle is configured the same as my iPad, 64GB with 4G LTE.

For an in-depth look at the Kindle Fire HDX, check out my review with photos. Go ahead, we'll wait here for you.

See related: 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

That gives you an idea why I like the Kindle. I admit I am surprised that I am preferring it over the iPad Air. This is significant for someone who proclaimed the iPad Air to be the best tablet ever made. Of course, that was prior to the appearance of the Kindle Fire HDX.

What makes the Kindle so special? It may not be the same for everyone but for this writer it's because it is more enjoyable to use. The interface keeps the most-used apps front and center, along with music and books. Recently accessed content and apps live side-by-side on the home screen carousel, and that just feels right.

The Kindle Fire HDX is much lighter than the iPad Air, and its slightly smaller form is easier to handle for extended sessions. Even with the Origami Case from Amazon in place, the Kindle feels better in the hand than the iPad Air. I never thought I'd be saying that, but that's the case.

Speaking of the Origami Case, Kindle Fire HDX owners should definitely get one if you haven't already. The design using magnets to hold the case in the proper form of a stand for the Kindle is superb. It's quick work to open the cover and pop the case in the proper form, and the case is very stable with the magnets holding the folded cover. I like the Smart Cover for the iPad Air, but it pales in comparison to the cover from Amazon. The higher price ($55 - $70) of the Amazon Origami is well worth it.

There are lots more apps in the iTunes App Store than there are in the Amazon shop, but I have yet to want an app on the Kindle that isn't available. I have apps for leisure and apps for work on the Kindle Fire HDX that handle all of my needs.

The primary apps  I use on the Kindle Fire HDX (in no particular order) are the following:

  • Mail, Silk Browser (preinstalled on the Kindle)
  • TweetCaster (Twitter client)
  • toodleTasks Tablet (toodleoo to-do manager)
  • Evernote
  • Facebook
  • WeatherBug for Kindle Fire
  • March Madness
  • gReader for Feedly
  • Flipboard
  • Gmail, Google Play Music (requires sideloading procedure detailed on the web)
TweetCaster (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Can the Kindle Fire HDX totally replace the iPad Air for me? Almost. There's one need I have that prevents my ditching the iPad entirely. This shortcoming affects my using it for work, and it will be a factor for companies wanting to deploy the tablet from Amazon.

Regular readers know I use all of my tablets for my work, and that requires a physical keyboard for my writing. I can compromise to a degree for such work, but I write too much to put up with shortcomings too great.

That's the situation I have with the Kindle Fire HDX. There aren't many keyboards available for the Kindle, and the two I bought aren't as good as my favorite keyboard for the iPad Air.

If the folks from ZAGG would make a ZAGGkeys Cover for the Kindle Fire HDX, my ability to migrate totally would be possible. While the Poetic case I use is workable, it's not good enough for heavy use like I need.

Those not needing nor wanting a keyboard should find the Kindle Fire HDX to be a good alternative to the iPad Air. You'll have a bit of cash left in your pocket, in addition to a good tablet.

The keyboard situation makes the iPad Air better for those wanting a tablet for work, and for those companies looking to deploy tablets. While tablets can be used without keyboards, many employees are going to prefer having them for typical office tasks such as creating documents. 

For now, the huge accessory ecosystem for the iPad makes it the better choice for the enterprise. The Kindle Fire HDX can compete fairly with the iPad Air as a tablet, but the lack of keyboards make it fall short for some work.

Topics: Mobility, Amazon, iPad, Tablets

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  • Ad

    Obviously paid by Amazon.
    • probay not

      I got the 7" kindle Fire HDX a few months ago and like the interface much better than stock Android. I am not very experienced with iOS but find it copies Google Android more and more rather than do anything different.

      Amazon has made an incredible, easy to use and intuitive interface for the device. Also if you are giving it to say grandma - there are very useful tutorials the first time you use it and the first time you go to any new section. Overall, I was quite impressed.

      Onlyndownside - but not a great problem - is that there is slightly fewer useful apps in the Amazon store compared to the Google Play store
    • Rude

      You just called the author a liar. Disagree with his opinion, but not his integrity.
      • And He Can't have an Opiniion?

        Reviews of consumer goods in publications that have that consumer good advertised in it are always suspect. Upsetting fanboyz is also a no-no. I'm not saying Kendrick is not being honest, but he did not mention the higher price for the ad free version of the Kindle or that it is tightly wrapped into the Amazon infrastructure. Suspiciously uncritical. But, when did 'Road and Track' ever just plainly say "The new Ford is a total piece of crap!" when the Pinto and Maverick and quite a few others models of all car manufacturers entirely deserved it?
    • Obviously a kneejerk reaction,

      By someone who cannot believe that anyone could possibly have an opinion, without his permission.
    • Then he's got them ALL fooled...

      If Ed's getting paid for his articles by tablet manufacturers, then he's doing a helluva good job as his posts range from positive to negative across virtually all major platforms on the market. In fact, the only thing I would fault him on is that it all feels a little "tablet-of-the-month-club".

      Ed apparently has the wherewithal and proclivity to acquire new hardware at rapid pace. Unfortunately, it means that this month's darling is likely to be next month's paperweight if tablet manufacturers continue the pace of tablet evolution.
      • Correction: James - not Ed

      • I agree. I don't always agree with JK but he's legit

        And most of the time I do agree.
      • What James REALLY wants

        is a Galaxy Note 8 with a 1920x1200 screen.
        I can't believe he will give up the S-Pen and multi-windowing for the Kindle HDX 8.9
        I'm hanging onto my badly worn out Note 8 until they make one with a better screen.
        I just played with a Galaxy Note Pro 12.2
        James, DO NOT go near one of these or a thousand bucks dissappears from your account!
        • Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

          2560x1600 screen 8.4" SD800 for $400
          Note Pro 8.4 please Samsung!
    • Not James K. He seems legit.

      His favorites move around and he tries a lot of stuff.
    • Are you an automated response system?

      Any time an article comes out that in any way says something may be better than Apple, then they must be paid by the respective company. I think you should try something novel, like actually saying something.
      My wife has been using the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 since December. It has replaced her laptop and she loves it. We don't use it any more, but that Mayday button was actually quite amazing when we hit a snag.
    • Apple Fanboy

      Obviously someone who has never handled a Kindle HDX tablet!
      Ole Rellik
  • I bought a new pair of sneakers.

    I am wearing a new pair of sneakers. I am quite impress with the feel of them right now. I am not totally gone to replace my old pair of sneakers.

    I admit I am surprise how much I am liking these new pair of sneakers over my old pair of sneakers. They are lighter, feel great around my feet and, newer.

    Can these new pair of sneakers replace my old pair of sneakers. Almost. But, there is one place I will still need to use my old pair of sneakers. Such things as yard work, exercising, working on dirty trails, etc.

    The new pair of sneakers can fairly compete with my old pair of sneakers. But, for now I still need to wear my old pair of sneakers, for certain occasions.
    • Funny but not that relevant.

      I don't think it is a new vs old issue at all. The issue is that you have two devices both with great software and hardware but one is $250 cheaper. And the cheaper one is slightly easier to use but doesn't have a good keyboard. If you were going to compare shoes, pick a high end brand that is $600 and a brand that is $350. But the $350 pair is a bit more comfortable and even better looking than the $600 but the store he sells for offers the $600 shoes and not the $350 so he needs to wear the $600 shoes. If he could he would choose the $350 pair but can't.
  • This is funny

    Now James is giving Apple fanbois fits.

    [Rhetorical] Question for James: Can the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 do wave equation migration?
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • no

      Maybe turning wave. :-)
  • Again, comparing small to big

    Are you serious, spamazon tablet is smaller, it should compete with the mini not the air. It's like comparing van to a wagon and act like the wagon is a vehicle.
    Raleigh Brecht
    • Um, no

      The Kindle Fire HDX in the article is 8.9 inches. That's 0.8 inches smaller than the iPad Air and 2.9 inches bigger than the iPad mini.
      • Math Much?


        iPad Air = 9.7"
        Fire HDX = 8.9"
        iPad Mini = 7.9"

        The HDX appears be pretty much between the 2 Apple sizes. Where did you get 2.9" ??