PROS / The Kindle HDX 8.9 has exceptional battery life for a multimedia tablet.
CONS / Amazon's rear-facing camera has average image quality.
VERDICT / With solid construction and lengthy battery life, the Amazon Kindle HDX 8.9 is a tablet optimized for multimedia applications.
Within the past few years, Amazon's hardware family has grown quickly, expanding into new markets such as set-top boxes and smartphones. But as significant as these new products have been for Amazon, Kindle tablets remain the focal point for the company's consumer electronics offerings. In a marketplace that has become increasingly focused on shared content and hardware, Amazon's catalog on both fronts have been an emphasis for their Kindles.
As the flagship tablet in Amazon's Kindle family, the Amazon HDX Fire 8.9 takes advantage of the online retailer's assets in order to earn its position as one of the best tablets. Thanks to its superb build quality, the HDX Fire 8.9 earns the Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award.
Internally, the HDX 8.9 runs a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 805 processor and a dedicated Adreno 420 graphics processing unit. Thanks to these components, the tablet performed reasonably well during benchmark testing from our colleagues at Laptop Mag.
In the processing performance test Geekbench 3, the HDX 8.9 produced a score of 3,082. While this result was marginally higher than Top Ten Reviews' Geekbench 3 average tablet score of 2,620, the HDX 8.9's score was a small step behind premium tablets from competing tablet PC manufacturers. However, Amazon's use of a discrete graphics unit pays considerable dividends. In the graphics performance benchmark 3DMark, Laptop's score of 19,754 was more than Top Ten Reviews' average test score of 14,753.
Our hands-on testing illustrated the benefits of these high benchmark results and found the HDX 8.9 to be an effective multitasking tablet. The Kindle easily switched between apps without any slowdown, and the game "Injustice: Gods Among Us" had excellent performance and visual fidelity.
Portability & Design
The HDX 8.9 relies on the same slim layout that past Amazon Kindles have used. With dimensions of 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.31 inches and a weight of only 0.82 pounds, the HDX 8.9 is an exceptionally light full-size tablet. The tablet computer's design also felt comfortable in our hands, thanks to accessible button placement and its lightly rubberized backing. Amazon offers the HDX 8.9 in 16GB, 32GB or 64GB configurations and provides support for cellular data on separate models.
The HDX 8.9 was a respectable performer during Laptop's battery test, in which a tablet loops through webpages at a constant brightness until it powers down. The tablet's battery life of 10 hours and 19 minutes was a step above other high-end competitors. By comparison, only low-powered eReaders regularly break the 10-hour mark in battery life.
The Kindle is built on an 8.9-inch display with a 2560 x 1600 resolution. The display was a strong performer in Laptop's benchmarking test, producing a brightness measurement of 383 nits. This mark was among the best we've seen for a premium tablet and compared favorably to the Top Ten Reviews average tablet brightness of 352 nits.
We found the HDX 8.9 to be similarly reliable in hands-on testing. High-resolution photos and games were displayed with excellent color reproduction and visual fidelity. In the Kindle's reading application, text also appeared cleanly and with virtually no pixelation.
The Kindle HDX 8.9 features an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera. The HDX 8.9's 1.2-megapixel camera can be effectively used for basic photo shooting, but as with most front-facing cameras, it is better suited for video calls.
The rear-facing camera's support for tools such as flash and image stabilization makes it useful for higher-quality photography. However, our sample photos of a street with autofocus had moderate issues with color levels and accuracy.
Help & Support
Amazon offers a base one-year warranty on the HDX 8.9. The company also provides support via phone, live chat, social media, a support webpage and Mayday, an Amazon service that provides video troubleshooting with a live agent at any time.
We found the Kindle online support hub to be cleanly organized. We easily found answers to questions for issues such as book purchasing and Kindle resetting. Laptop also found Mayday's agents and specialists to be responsive to customer service queries.
The Kindle HDX 8.9's exceptional build quality and slate of exclusive Amazon features safely place it within the top tier of premium tablets. Amazon's high-end Kindle provides a mix of portability and performance that makes it equally suitable for reading or processing-intensive tasks.