The Bottom Line
Nov 20 2012 - Amazon's larger Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch tablet shares so much in common with the 7-inch version that beyond the display or the cellular data options, the lower price tablet is probably the better choice of the two. The tablet will most likely appeal to those who want to have the ability to watch 1080p video most likely through Amazon's Prime subscription service or Instant Video. It is a good stepping stone between the smaller and large tablets and will appeal on price for some but it would have been nice to see a bit more features to set it apart from the 7-inch model.
- Nice Display Capable of 1080p Video
- Excellent Media Platform
- Good Sturdy Design
- UI Still Struggles At Time Even With Faster Processor
- Removing Ads Requires An Extra One Time Fee
- No Access to Google Play Android Store
- 1.5 GHz TI OMAP 4470 (Cortex-A9) Dual Core Processor
- 1GB Memory
- 16GB Storage
- 8.9" WUXGA (1920x1200) IPS Multitouch Display
- 1.0 Megapixel Front Camera
- PowerVR SGX544 Graphics
- 802.11a/b/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- micro-USB, micro-HDMI, 3.5mm Audio
- 9.3" x 6.4" x .35" @ 1.25 lbs.
- Android 4.0 (Modified)
Review - Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch
Nov 20 2012 - The Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch tablet bears a near identical look to the smaller Kindle Fire HD 7-inch just larger in order to fit the bigger screen. It shares the same rough dimensions and design but is a bit thinner at just .35-inches thick compared to the .4-inches of the 7-inch model. The weight has also increased to one and a quarter pounds which does put it closer to the lighter of 10-inch tablets such as the Google Nexus 10. While there is additional space for ports, the tablet still lacks a microSD card slot for expanding the local storage capacity.
The biggest and most obvious difference between the 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions of the Kindle Fire HD is the display. Of course it is larger but it also features a higher 1920x1200 native resolution. This does not mean that it is any sharper than the smaller version but it now can display more. Most importantly, the tablet now has the ability to fully watch 1080p high definition video while the 7-inch version was restricted to 720p. This of course is still less than the iPad with Retina or the new Nexus 10 provide but it is still plenty especially given its size. The IPS screen offers good brightness and color easily on par with the Nexus but a bit short of the iPad. Viewing angles are wide allowing more than one individual to watch the display without much color distortion.
In addition to the larger screen, Amazon also put in a faster TI OMAP 4470 dual core processor. This runs at 1.5GHz compared to the 1.2GHz speeds of the 7-inch version. It seems a bit smoother than the smaller sibling but it still does lag at times which can get frustrating. Much of this is due to the highly customized version of the Android 4.0 software that Amazon has skinned with their own interface. This of course makes it great for consuming media such as books and video streamed and sold via Amazon's storefront but it does have the drawback of locking users out from the more expansive Google Play Android storefront for applications.
One final difference between the two versions is the ability to get 4G wireless support in the 8.9-inch tablet which is not available on the 7-inch model. Opting for this adds an additional $200 to the price. Thus, a 16GB 4G version is $499 while the 16GB Wi-Fi only model is $299. Interestingly enough, it is possible to pay a fixed $50 price to receive 250MB per month for one year which is very affordable.
Amazon does not list the capacity for the battery in the Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch but instead lists ten hours of running time. In my digital video playback testing, the tablet was able run for just under nine hours before shutting down. This is three quarters of an hour shorter than the what the 7-inch version of the tablet achieves. The larger screen and faster processor likely is the result of the shorter overall running time. It certainly does not last as long as the new iPad Mini with its amazing twelve hours but it is more expensive and also has a smaller, lower resolution display.
As with the 7-inch Kindle Fire, the $299 price tag comes with a catch of ads being served to the tablet. These are not extremely intrusive as they are only displayed at the lock screen. It is possible to remove the ads from the tablet at an extra cost of $15 bringing the price to $314. I would advise that buyers purchase it without and then disable them at a later date if they find them distracting.
With its $299 price tag and size, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch falls in an inbetween place for tablets. It is more expensive than the 7-inch versions but doesn't quite reach the size and features of the 10-inch tablets. The closest in terms of price would be the more compact iPad Mini but starts at $329. This is only $15 more than the ad-free version of the Fire. The Barnes and Noble Nook HD+ offers many of the same features but at a lower price of just $269 but it hasn't officially been made available yet for a direct comparison.