Why you should buy a Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (review)

Why you should buy a Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (review)

Summary: After using the evaluation Kindle Fire HDX that Amazon sent me for a few days, I was so impressed I bought one of my own.


I like to have a tablet on each mobile platform to keep up with what's new. That leads me to buy too many gadgets, but I only buy those I find to be outstanding. That was the case with the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 from Amazon. This tablet is so good it has replaced two tablets in my stable.

Kindle Fire HDX
(Image: Amazon)

Amazon sent me a Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 to test recently and my review made it clear I was impressed by it. I found it to be so good it didn't take me long to buy one. Why I find it good enough to get my hard-earned cash can be detailed in several categories in which the Kindle Fire HDX shines.

The hardware

The full specs of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 are in the review so I won't rehash them. The model I bought is the 8.9-inch version, with 64GB of storage, and with integrated 4G LTE. 

See related: Kindle Fire HDX: Smooth operation, great screen (hands on) | Belkin QODE Keyboard Case for Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: Poor design at a price

The high-resolution display on the HDX is simply gorgeous. Everything displays crisply, and colors are bright and vivid. I tend to use tablets in both landscape and portrait orientations, and the HDX handles both nicely.

Amazon's Fire OS used on the Kindle is not only designed to be easy to use, it is very efficient.

The 8.9-inch screen of the HDX is almost as big as that of the iPad Air, which I also own, but the Kindle only weighs about the same as the much smaller iPad mini. This makes a big difference when using the Kindle for extended periods, something I do regularly.

The back of the HDX is not slippery so it can be used securely in the hand. This is something I can't do with the iPads as I find them too slippery, and I've almost dropped them several times. That's not the case with the Kindle.

The power and volume buttons are on the back of the Kindle, and I find them easy to use as a result. Most other tablets have them located on the side of the devices, which forces the OEMs to make them too small compared to these on the HDX. It quickly becomes intuitive to use them by feel as they are near the fingers when holding the tablet.

Audio is not overly loud on the Kindle, but it has a nice sound with Dolby technology. Listening to music and watching video is a nice experience due to the sound quality.

Integrated LTE is something I get on tablets when available. It's nice to have high-speed connectivity when Wi-Fi hotspots are not around. I don't like using my phone as a hotspot as it ties up my phone and kills the battery quickly.

The LTE option on the Kindle Fire HDX is better than that on the iPad Air as it works on both Verizon and AT&T. This makes it possible to switch carriers, something you can't do with an iPad.

Next: The user experience

Topics: Mobility, Amazon, Reviews, Tablets

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  • Wrong link to origami case review?

    Hi James, I clicked on the link to see your review of the origami case, but got somewhere else. Is this the correct link you intended to post?
  • Fixed

    The link has been fixed, thanks.
  • nice

    Nice review as usual James, definitely has me thinking about picking one up. On the current iPad Air's though, even though they come specific to one carrier, I thought I read somewhere that if you put an AT&T sim in the Verizon or vice versa it will work. Side loading takes the one concern away I had about the Fire HDX. Is it just as easy to tether with the kindle as the iPad with LTE?
    • Tethering yes

      In the Wireless settings mobile hotspot can be configured and turned on just like the iPad.
  • Kindle Fire HD lifecycle support

    How long will Amazon provide OS updates and/or upgrades to it's Kindle Fire HD users?
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Which two tablets did you replace?

    the kindle is a very very nice tablet.
    • These two

      Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 and the iPad mini (original model)
  • In my opinion the carousel still has issues

    One of the main things I can;t stand about the carousel is that it just keeps getting longer and longer; you have to manually erase everything on it. What Amazon should do is allow the carousel to be configured. Something like allowing a limit to the number of items and perhaps restricting the apps that show up on the carousel. Also, instead of the apps that updated showing up on the carousel, have a better notification system in place. When my kindle HD 8.9 sleeps, I never hear the notifications that go off on it. Also, if the carousel had an option to "pin to carousel" then it would effectively be a dock, with the favorites bar being for less favorite apps that you use regularly, but less often than the carousel apps. I also see no reason why Amazon doesn;t just allow google play store on it's device. While I like that Amazon vets their apps better than Google, updates always come extra late to the device.
    • Good points!

      You bring up some interesting items. However, rather than being deal breakers, they seem to be minor quibbles, that are easily overcome. It is not like any of them are a brick wall. If this were all I found wrong with ths tablet, I would gush about how great it is....(and I do....LOL)
  • Useful Review, Mr. Kendrick!

    Thank you very much. I'm not a tablet person, but I know some who are. Thank you again.
  • Another Believer

    Mr. Kendrick has given the specs and the user experience for the tablet, so I'll just say I strongly agree. I have both the HDX 8.9 and the HDX 7. Both are outstanding tablets, and that's before we even get to the slick way they run and are used. I also stay current with all major operating systems (expensive! but it's my only financial weakness:-), and I was worried at first about the comparison between this version of Android vs those on pure Google, LG, and Samsung machines. For me it's a tossup between the Kindle and the pure Google Android. But price is king here. I will be a buyer of the next 8.9, but will stay with the current HDX 7.
  • Kindle

    Amazon has the best prices o all the kindle Models CHECK IT OUT NOW! http://amzn.to/174bELn
  • Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" vs iPad Air

    I have both of these tablets and I agree completely with your assessment. I love them both for what they each do best. However, I find myself picking up the Kindle a lot more and the Air less and less...
  • Kindle, of course

    Ok, got the 8.9 HDX 32g WiFi. Extremely happy with it. Comments, lack of sd card slot is just plain 'mean'. You also didn't note that the Kindle annual subscription will be going up from $80.xx to $99.xx on your next renewal. If one uses it as we do, it's still an excellent value even if my pocket-book had to cry a purple tear drop.
    One other item. You're a big boy now. You can write articles on one page like the other adults. I know that you know this, because I've been telling you for over a year. This being said, if you can't put an article on one page, you will not be served green (or any other ind of) beer on St Paddy's Day. You already blew 'Pie Day. Please, Enuf already !
    Leo Regulus
    • Kindle HD

      Oh I did not know that there is an annual subscription too. What for? If that is an intergral part of owning a Kindle, I'm not going to buy it. Thank your very much. I do not like anyone squeezing my balls.
      George Rego
      • Subscription

        The subscription being talked about here is the Amazon Prime membership that allows you to access their Amazon Instant-video library as well as receive free 2-day shipping on many products they sell. While this isn't an integral part of owning a kindle, it's certainly a plus. If you have just the wi-fi version of the device, you can watch a lot of their content for free. Without it, you still have access to these things via paying for the content. There is also an option for "super-saver" shipping and free shipping when buying over a certain amount of stuff.
        Florence Bailey
  • Audio limited to files bought from Amazon ?

    This is the problem I had on my Kindle fire. I have some MP3 files (a spanish course) and could never listen to them on my Kindle fire, bought in the US. And Amazon proved unable or unwilling to help. So beware !
  • Kindle Fire HD

    What none of the reviews including the above makes no mention of Kindles primary function as an ereader. I take it that this is a tablet competing with the ipad or the samsung tablet and is not suitable as an ereader at all.
    George Rego
  • parental controls

    How is parental controls? I an considering the 16th model for my daughter.
  • Question regarding Kindle Fire HDX 8.9

    I am wanting to purchase this for my online business and my carrier is Verizon. Before I make this purchase I need to know for sure that this exact Kindle will work with Verizon.
    Can I rest assure this is true?