- Editor's Rating
- Large, vivid screen
- Excellent sound quality -- truly exceptional for a mobile device
- Great video playback
- Surprisingly good email client
- Amazon Prime offers a wealth of "free" video and the loan of one Kindle Library book per month for paid members
- Low price
- Unpolished hardware with some rough edges
- Lack of a home button is a minor annoyance
- Glare is a real problem, depending on lighting conditions
- Some WiFi connectivity/Hulu playback issues
- Locked into the Amazon ecosystem for content
- Slightly disappointing battery life
Quick TakeIf you're an Amazon loyalist with a Prime membership, it's a no-brainer, but if you're looking for a more general-purpose tablet that can entertain you and keep you productive on the go, you would be better served looking elsewhere if your budget allows.
Amazon’s largest tablet to date, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is a nice slate that offers a vibrant display, but with the ever-expanding tablet market, it surely isn’t the best that money can buy.
The Fire HD 8.9’s larger screen real-estate is a well-welcomed feature from Amazon’s previous offering, and its 1920 x 1200 resolution makes text, photos and videos pop with sharp colors. However, the display suffers greatly from glare, making reading books somewhat difficult. Measuring 9.4-inches tall and 6.5-inches wide, the device is similar in size to Apple’s iPad, though it is slightly narrower than the popular slate.
Like most tablets, this one relies on a virtual onscreen keyboard, which unfortunately has a somewhat slow response time. Performance is also delayed, with TabletPCReview finding noticeable lag in certain instances. Of course, Amazon makes it extremely easy to purchase new content on the device, while other functions aren’t as easy as they should be, a result of the slate’s heavily customized version of Android. Yet, the productivity of the device is surprisingly sophisticated, with Calendar and Contacts apps syncing perfectly with a variety of services, including AOL and Gmail. However, the lack of a home or menu button is a big oversight, as is the tiny active area near the top of the screen that makes it almost impossible to access the settings icon.
Keeping in line with its predecessors, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is an entertainment device at heart, offering a good reading experience, as well as a great platform for watching videos. Users should keep the charger handy though, as TabletPCReview found the battery life to be “somewhat less than expected.”
The tablet houses a front-facing camera, which is a nice addition compared to the original camera-less Fire. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is certainly the best of the Fire family, yet overall it’s not as polished as the iPad or other higher-end tablets. While the tablet is priced reasonably at $300 for the 16GB ad-supported version, users may want to consider alternative slates if their budget allows.