Together with the Kindle Fire HD 7, the 8.9-inch variant makes up the second generation of Amazon’s successful Kindle Fire series of tablets. The new Fire commands a price premium of at least an additional $100 over the base $200 MSRP of the Fire HD 7. The design is essentially identical to the smaller 7-inch Kindle Fire HDAs expected, the chassis of the HD 8.9 takes on the same materials and style as found on the HD 7. In terms of durability, the casing has translated well from the 7-inch HD 7 to the larger 8.9-inch version.
The same drawbacks have carried over, however, in this case the volume rocker and power button. When compared to other tablets, the HD 8.9 is neither noticeably thicker nor heavier than most other Android tablets of similar size. As basic multimedia tablets, the Kindle Fire series includes no dedicated solutions for specialized attachments and accessories.
Beyond the home screen, all other functions perform at a similar speed to its smaller 7-inch brother and sometimes slightly slower. Fortunately, the Amazon-centric services (App store, video streaming, and Amazon Cloud access) function smoothly and are free from glitches. A minor, though notable annoyance with the tablet is the delay after pressing the power button and before the lock screen is shown.
The unavoidable lock screen ads can sometimes take up to 2 seconds to loadCameras and MultimediaThe camera in general is acceptable for video conferencing with better than average performance under low-medium ambient lighting, but it lacks the raw power of rear-facing cameras as found on numerous other tablets and smartphones. Amazon stores continue to be barebones and easily navigableDisplayThe 8.9-inch display is the highlight of the tablet and the 1920x1200 pixel resolution helps the Kindle Fire series stay relevant in the tablet space.
Our Gossen Mavo-Monitor was able to record a maximum brightness of 486 nits on the top left quadrant of the display and an overall average of about 410 nits. Quadrant informationThe 1080p display demands not just more battery power, but more horsepower too to take advantage of the full array of pixels.
On the graphical side, the tablet was unfortunately unable to run any version of GLBenchmark during our tests. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website.
Amazon's aggressive pricing has positioned the Kindle Fire series as some of the best tablets for the buck. Unlike a number of other tablets that come in various sizes, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab series, the larger Kindle Fire is more than just an increase in display size as it now incorporates a full HD 16:10 (1920x1200) screen. The downside to the $300 model is the built-in randomized advertisements that appear on the lock screen.
This includes the slightly rubberized, but all-plastic back casing with hard plastic edges and corners. Twisting is minimal and only very small amounts of warping can be observed when applying pressure on either side of the tablet.
The texture of both buttons are not differentiated very noticeably and can result in accidental and undesired inputs.

Unfortunately, large borders exist on all four sides despite having the same native resolution as the tablet. The barebones packaging is indicative of this as only a USB charger is thrown in with no papers or quick guides to speak of. Apps and pages do not load or run significantly faster, at least subjectively, despite the faster processor in the 8.9-inch model. It is by no means a long pause, but it does take a bit longer than what we are used to with other tablets and smartphones. The camera certainly does not do the screen any justice and is only suitable if no other cameras are immediately available. We did, however, run into a few crashes with the Silk browser and users must manually select the 1080p option for full HD playback, just like with a desktop. While the speedier hardware is a welcome, we had trouble subjectively experiencing any performance boosts during general use as mentioned earlier in the review. The Smartbench and NenaMark gaming index scores, however, both position the GPU below the Tegra 3 APU on other Android devices with a 1080p display, such as the Transformer Pad Infinity and Iconia Tab A700.
The HD 8.9 still shares almost all of its characteristics with its smaller sibling, so additional information and details on the hardware and software can be seen in our full review of the Kindle Fire HD 7. Amazon demands an additional $15 and $70 to remove the sponsored ads and for 32 GB of internal storage, respectively. The design loses the boring and boxy shape of the original with more rounded and modern looks.
When considering the prices, we’re impressed by the strong build quality that Amazon has been offering to all of its Kindle Fire lineups so far.
The plastic strip that covers the speakers extends to the edges and can feel like buttons as well, which makes locating the actual buttons by hand more difficult than it should be. Widescreen videos do stretch to reduce most of the black pillars and sound is transmitted as well should the external solution support it. The typical colorful array of covers and cases, as well as a stylus, are available from Amazon. Love it or hate it, the interface still largely revolves around a carousel and the horizontally listed functions immediately above it. In fact, typing on the onscreen keyboard is not instant as inputs are sometimes delayed for seemingly no reason. A number of competing tablets do offer the same 1080p resolution as this Amazon model, most notably the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity and Acer Iconia Tab A700, albeit both are physically larger (and much more expensive) with 10.1-inch screens each. The illumination is not the most uniform, though the screen is so amply bright that the deviation is unnoticeable to the naked eye.
Apps do not launch significantly faster and multitasking is certainly not as snappy as it could have been. This review will focus on the 16 GB Fire HD 8.9 and any differences it may have to the HD 7 and original 7. Nonetheless, the matte back and glossy Gorilla Glass front are still fingerprint magnets and can be difficult to wipe completely clean.

Note that the tablet will automatically mirror its contents to the external sans the rotation, so it is impossible to perform independent activities in spite of having two displays.
This works well if using the tablet in landscape mode but is not very efficient in portrait mode. Longer web pages (such as our review pages) can take a few seconds (or longer) to appear onscreen, especially when scrolling quickly.
Finally, video quality from Amazon streams are good but not that great of an improvement as one might expect over the HD 7 since the streams are limited to 720p.
This isn't necessarily bad as the 7-inch model operates smoothly for the most part and is still leagues ahead of similarly priced second-rate tablets. Do those extra two inches and higher resolutions make the 8.9-inch tablet a worthwhile purchase? Much of the home screen is wasted and devoid of any functionality, which is made even more unacceptable due to the high resolution of the display. The Kindle Fire series also continues to neglect dedicated Home and Back buttons, so what is typically a one-step process will take at least two user inputs as the onscreen buttons are often hidden. The high resolution of this Amazon tablet provides enough screen real estate to make up for any physical screen size differences it may have when compared to other Android tablets. As a result, a high brightness setting is recommended for comfortable outdoor use either under shade or under direct sunlight. However, those who were expecting more than a resolution upgrade for the additional $100 may be disappointed to find no sizable performance gains over the HD 7. 3 suffer from the same frame rate drops as does a Tegra 3-powered device during more intense battles, but nothing game-breaking or frustrating.
USB on-the-go also remains unsupported as the device was unable to recognize any plug-and-play flash drives, keyboards, or mice.
In other words, Amazon’s carousel interface scales extremely poorly to higher resolutions and is something that we hope will be improved upon in the future.
Colors, however, don’t pop as much as they do on other tablets since the screen itself is under an obvious layer of Gorilla Glass. Interestingly, the microphone has been moved from its original top location and now sits on the opposite edge in between the micro HDMI and micro-USB ports.
In other words, the visible display is not as close to the touch surface as it could have been.
Color shifting is almost nonexistent and the tablet is equally usable in both landscape and portrait modes. There is a slight brightness decrease if viewing from extreme angles, but this does not detract from the overall quality of the display.

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