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.


Sideloading apps

The Kindle Fire HDX is firmly entrenched in the Amazon ecosystem, and that means there is no access to the Google Play Store. Apps must be purchased from the Amazon App Store, which has a much smaller selection than Google's. That said, I have yet to find an app I want that is not available in the Amazon store.

Amazon realizes that its app selection is not the best, so it has enabled the Kindle to accept sideloaded apps. These are apps you can find on the web and copy to the tablet over the micro-USB connection. This process is simple, and once the app is on the Kindle you install it. These work fine and greatly broaden the usefulness of the Kindle.

You can also install Google Apps through a process detailed on the web. I have Gmail, YouTube, Google Play Music, and Google Search installed on my Kindle through this method. It's straightforward and works well. You can actually install the Google Play store app, but it requires some serious hacking. I don't find I need it with the simpler method of sideloading apps.

The value proposition

My Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is configured the same as my iPad Air. They both have 64GB of storage, and LTE. I gave $829 for the iPad Air, a princely sum. That makes the Kindle a bargain at $579. That's a big difference in price, and factored into my decision to buy the HDX.

The Kindle Fire HDX has hardware just as good as that found in tablets costing much more. Some will argue that it's not real Android, but as detailed in this article I find it to be better than Google's version. Amazon has nailed it with the Kindle Fire HDX and Fire OS.

Kindle Fire HDX owners should not overlook the Origami Case from Amazon. This case is one of the best I've used on any platform, and is incredibly useful. See it in action on my review of the Kindle.

Is it better than the iPad Air?

No. It's different than the iPad, and some will like it better, others will like the iPad better. There are some things I like on the Kindle Fire HDX more than similar things on the iPad, and vice versa.

The Kindle Fire HDX has enterprise features built into the Fire OS. It has VPN capability, a full Office document viewer, and wireless printing, making it a good BYOD solution. Amazon also has WhisperCast, which allows the IT department to remotely support Kindles used in the workplace. This includes the ability to push corporate content to the work force using Kindles.

I don't recommend products over others as everyone has different things they like better than others. I like using my iPad Air. I enjoy using the Kindle Fire HDX.

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?