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Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (2014) review

Richard Easton
10 Dec 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
339
inc VAT

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 has a gorgeous screen and superb battery life but is still hampered by Fire OS

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Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805, Screen size: 8.9in, Screen resolution: 2,560x1,600, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage: 16GB, Wireless data: 4G +£110, Size: 231x7.8x158mm, Weight: 375g, Operating system: Fire OS 4 Sangria (based on Android 4.4)

Like its predecessor, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 has great hardware, but it’s badly hampered by the Fire OS operating system. Fire OS 4 Sangria looks and runs well on the tablet but, although the OS is based on Android, you have to use Amazon’s own app store for adding content. This isn’t as well stocked as Google’s Play Store and also means you miss out on some staple Google apps such as official apps for Maps, Chrome and Drive. There are also no 4OD or ITV Player or apps for any major banks. If you're considering any models from Amazon's Fire range, bear in mind that they're really just for consuming content and browsing the web, and are nothing like as versatile as a real Android tablet. 

Amazon’s own products and services are well integrated into the operating system, as you might expect. The tablet acts in part as a shop window and the number of shortcuts directing you to Amazon content can begin to feel intrusive. Amazon’s parental control setting, called Free Time, offers a good degree of control, allowing you set up individual accounts and control how long the tablet can be used for and even set goals for activities such as reading. The HDX 8.9 also has Amazon’s Mayday service for technical support from a live Amazon operator that could be a useful feature for inexperienced users who might run into difficulties. We were connected very quickly to technical support each time.

There’s also Amazon’s Firefly function, as found on the Fire Phone. This uses the tablet’s camera and microphone to identify products by scanning barcodes or television shows or music through audio recognition. The camera can also identify web and e-mail addresses and phone numbers, saving you from having to type them in. In reality, Firefly proved hit and miss, occasionally struggling to pick out details from a business card or identify a product.

In the end, if you’re not dissuaded by some of the limitations of Amazon’s Fire OS and, better still, if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber or buy a lot of content from Amazon such as Kindle eBooks, the new Fire HDX 8.9 is by far the best tablet Amazon has produced to date. Its battery life is incredible, its display is fantastic and it looks and feels great in your hands. It is expensive considering its limitations, however; if you need a proper Android tablet computer as opposed to a content viewing device, buy a Google Nexus 9 instead. 

Hardware
ProcessorQuad-core 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
RAM2GB
Screen size8.9in
Screen resolution2,560x1,600
Screen typeIPS
Front camera1 megapixel
Rear camera8 megapixels
FlashYes
GPSYes
CompassNo
Storage16GB
Memory card slot (supplied)MicroSD (none)
Wi-Fi802.11ac dual-band
Bluetooth4.1
NFCNo
Wireless data4G +£110
Size231x7.8x158mm
Weight375g
Features
Operating systemFire OS 4 Sangria (based on Android 4.4)
Battery size6,000mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price£329
Supplierwww.amazon.co.uk
Detailswww.amazon.co.uk
Part codeKindle Fire HDX 8.9

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