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on November 22, 2012
Let me start out by saying that I am new to the tablet world and have had no experience using any tablets prior to this purchase. That being said, I spent a great deal of time fishing around through reviews and specs of what seemed like countless tablets for months. The obvious cliche conclusion led to all fingers pointing at some variation of an iPad, yet for me, I do not see much sense in purchasing a tablet (regardless of brand) for around the same price as a cheap yet descent laptop that will have more potential.

Enter the Kindle Fire HD.

I will spare you the story on my process of how I ended up choosing a Fire HD and get right to what you all want to know: my thoughts and experience thus far with the product.

Picture: (10/10)
I will start with this since obviously that was the first thing i noticed. In a word, incredible. Now its not "eye popping" or anything out of this world, but i can honestly say it exceeded my expectations and i was (and continue to be) impressed by this piece of hardware's capabilities. I tested out just a few minutes of TV shows, trailers, videos, and films from Prime Instant Video, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Flixster, and Youtube (through the web browser since an app is currently unavailable) and everything looks as it should (and beautiful to boot)! Books come out crisp as well (both in text and picture) and the same goes for basic website visuals, apps, and games. Overall I am very impressed.

Sound: (10/10)
This is probably where i was most impressed. I have seen some of the reviews on here that are 3 stars or less putting down the audio or claiming they don't hear the big deal. Not to be a jerk or anything but i recommend those people check in at an ear clinic and have their hearing tested. I was literally amazed at how I was hearing sounds from various distances and angles. From up close it felt like i was hearing a high quality home theater system and not just for one flick but everything. From website audio to music, Netflix to Audiobooks, this tablet sounds great!

Book/Reading Features: (10/10)
At first this was not my primary reason for purchasing a Fire HD, but after toying around with a few things, I am truly impressed at how well Amazon has integrated the ability to find, purchase, read, and even listen to literature. The lending library for Prime users is a nice added touch allowing you to borrow from a rather extensive list of books. Not to mention many timeless classics are available for free (such as Dracula, Gulliver's Travels, Little Women, The Iliad, The Jungle Book and many more) and of those titles, many come with free audio! If you do not feel like spending the money on audio (or if your book has none available) the text-to-speech feature is surprisingly well done with minimal error. With all this being said, I can honestly say that I am excited to start reading again.

Web Browsing: (8/10)
The only reason I do not give this a 10 is because web browsing (with what is given out of the box) lacks Flash support which limits the capabilities. However, with a bit of research I was able to find forum discussions on how Fire HD users were able to work around this by downloading an app called ES File Explorer and then a separate browser called Dolphin that gives you Flash capabilities, so this is an easy fix that even a monkey could figure out how to do as long as they are patient. Though don't get me wrong, Silk is fast and beautiful and i use it for the majority of my web surfing, but occasionally Flash is needed. As I am sure you have read by now in other reviews, the fact that the Fire HD does not automatically come with Flash support is not Amazon's fault yet rather Adobe for pulling he plug on their involvement with tablets. Again, as long as your network is put together well, browsing the web is very fast and up to par with dare I say some computers.

App Availability: (8/10)
To me, this is the only area where the Fire HD lacks. I would rate lower here but I am trusting that over time and after updates, the lineup will have grown. Once more, with a bit of research you can find discussions on how to "sideload" apps from your computer and other devices, but that could be a bit too advanced for the average user. Though for what it is worth, the selection it does currently come with is top notch. Just to name a few, some important missing apps include: YouTube, Dropbox, and SiriusXM. Still, as far as I am concerned, this certainly is not a deal breaker and I am sure that as things progress access to these will become available.

Look/Feel: (10/10)
The 8.9" model that I own and am currently reviewing was a lot lighter than I expected and it is true what they say ( it is just right to fit in one hand). Out of the box/pre-case the Fire HD looks great and is very thin, sleek, and dare I say...sexy? The only minor gripe I would have (that I noticed other reviewers mentioned) is the volume and power buttons are sometimes hard to find and do not always register, but after a while you get use to it. Aside from that, I love how it appears and functions.

Overall: (56/60)

There are a few things that by now you may know, such as how out of the box the Fire HD does not come with a wall charger. I know that is a bummer but if you don't already have one roaming around your house from a smartphone or if you cannot tolerate simply charging from your computer, Amazon sells them at a fairly reasonable price.

Bottom line? I have purchased over 500 items on Amazon and I rarely feel the need to review a product, but I genuinely felt my voice needed to be heard ( or read rather) with the Kindle Fire HD 8.9. I strongly recommend purchasing this product and if you have any questions, feel free to comment and hopefully either me or someone else can assist you!

P.S. This took me forever to type on the Fire HD but it was good practice and hopefully worth it!

I would highly recommend a screen protector and a case
5150+ comments| 13,837 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
Originally published in November 2012, Updated January 19, 2013 after using this Fire for several months...

As there appears to be mixed reviews of the 8.9' Fires - ones with 4G access and those without - to clarify, this review is for the 8.9" tablet with the 4G connectivity option.

To get the iPad comparison out of the way, I put this tablet side-by-side to my iPad 2 I use for work. Downloads were slightly faster and the video screen resolution and the colors were more vibrant on the Fire vs. the iPad 2.

Screen Display / Video Playback:

With the larger HD screen, if playing video is important to you this is the version of the Fire to get as the screen display is fairly impressive with sharp and crisp colors. The display on this HD Fire was one heck of a lot better in terms of sharpness than last year's model and even this year's smaller HD model.

Amazon also added a cool feature on this one with the HDMI micro connection port. I have an HDMI micro plug and was able to hook this up to the big screen to watch an episode of the science fiction series Defying Gravity. It played back great smoothly with no problems.

Wi-Fi connectivity:

My standard test for trying out new gadgets is to see how fast they run side-by-side with a known piece of equipment doing the same test at the best place of Wi-Fi in my house and the worst place where it drags. In this comparison, I had this 8.9" version of the Fire sitting next to the "smaller" HD version of the Fire, my Motorola RAZR smartphone, my iPad 2 (yes, the Kindle guy uses an iPad for work), and the new 7" Fire all just using a Wi-Fi connection vs. cellular connectivity..

My website test is to hit the mobile websites of FoxNews, CNN, my personalized Yahoo page, Google, and the Houston Chronicle. The ones that were usually slow on the other devices and were still slow but faster than the other devices (Houston Chronicle and CNN), and for the other sites I couldn't tell a difference in speed at the location closest to my router. When I went to the slowest / worst reception location of my house, the speed did have a noticeable difference in the other devices as this one was slightly faster but for a casual surfer it is not noticeable nor does it hang.

Email Setup:

Email setup was very easy with the included email app for my main Google account - it took about a minute to input my email address and password information and I was good to go: sending and receiving emails was a snap, and when I sent a test message with pictures they displayed crisply. I will tell you I primarily us an existing app called Enhanced Email that I received here on the Amazon app store for free vs. what came as standard with the Fire for daily use, and it was easy to use - actually better due to the larger screen size - with this version of the Fire. For those of you asking yourself why am I using the Enhanced Email program, the simple answer is like many of you I have more than one email account: you can quickly switch back and forth on the accounts with the tool. The lazy person in me appreciates that as I don't like getting out of the lazy chair once I'm settled in!

Game Play:

I do play a lot of games, but they aren't the heavy action / interactive games many of the kids play today. For my test, I tried out several rounds of Words with Friends and a Majong derivative. The display was crisp and the tablet was very responsive as it interacted over the WiFi network of my home to the game server.

Sound / Music Playback

Different than last year's model and the $159 this year's model, the two speakers are located in the back of the Kindle Fire in two not-noticeable ports. My test of this feature was cranking up Van Halen's Panama to maximum volume (I wanted to see if it could really play the guitar licks), and I would alternate covering one speaker up over the other: you have true stereo sound with no degradation of the sound that makes you think you are about to blow the speaker. However, the sound is not very crisp (the $159 Fire sounds better to me) as the sound is going away from you with the speakers being in the back. With a cover on the Fire to protect it, that can be a problem. It's going to take a little bit of getting used to having the volume controls at the top of the device.

Reading Books:

Reading a book was enjoyable and easy on the eyes with the larger screen: I appreciate being able to changing the default font to something else in addition to increasing the font size so I don't have to wear my glasses. Turning pages is pretty darn easy - just tap the side of the screen to go to the next page or back a page, or you can swipe your finger across the screen to do the same.

Bluetooth:

Bluetooth setup was very easy. I tested this with audio in my car as well as an external keyboard. From a music standpoint, there were no delays or skips with the connection, and it paired up in about 30 seconds; I hooked up a Motorola Bluetooth keyboard and started banging away with several emails. Just make sure you give it a device name so you can recognize it and be recognized.

Cellular Connectivity (This Section Updated 1/19/2013):

The 4G connection is a lot like how I have heard one of my friends describe his relationship with a girlfriend: when things are good, they are real good and when they are bad, they absolutely suck.

The same can be true for the 4G connection - it can be real fast when it wants to be fast, and you can be dead in the water in the strangest places. For example, I can be out in the middle of the country and see a cell tower on the highway / frontage road, and the cell service is screaming fast and very convenient. On the other hand, I can be in downtown Houston, the display says I have full cellular strength, and it just won't work - no Internet, no email, no anything.

In other words, I have a love-hate relationship with it.

Concerning the introductory data plan - the one where you pay a one-time fee of $50 for 250 megabytes of data per month for 12 months, I have mixed emotions about it, also. I am not a heavy user of email or web surfing, I dislike video chat, and I don't download big files all of the time, so I initially thought the 250 meg per month limit would more than suit my needs.

I was wrong.

Why was I wrong? It's all of the apps loaded on your Fire that auto-magically turn themselves on that constantly check the Internet for updates, apps like Accuweather and The Weather Channel, a few news apps, and Words With Friends. The Weather Channel app had to be the worst: despite manually shutting it down, it would miraculously come back on and download maps, constantly check for updates and refresh said maps so frequently it chewed right through the month's allotment in a day and a half.

No kidding. And it's not a very good app, either, in comparison to Acccuweather so I deleted it.

Bottom line is you need to watch the data throughput carefully, or you will go over. I upgraded to the 3 gig per month plan, which is the same plan I have with my work iPad and seems to be enough. That's $30 per month, so I wasted the $49.99 on the 250 meg per month plan (AT&T wouldn't give me a refund even though I upgraded).

Affordability vs. an iPad

Dollarwise, this version of the Fire whips the iPad when you stack up the annual cost of connectivity, 64Gb of memory, and the cellular (or not) models of the iPad. The iPad's screen is slightly larger, but when I put it up against each other for the same things (web page, game app) I really couldn't tell that much of a difference.

Overall, if you are looking for a larger tablet this one wins hands down. With the full-features included with this model - especially the 4G connection - I believe this will be my go-to device, and I will no longer be carrying my e-Ink Kindle in addition to my iPad every day.
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on November 16, 2012
I wasn't really in the market for another tablet, but my girlfriend ended up getting one for me so she got me on this one. I would like to say that this tablet reminds me of the first Motorola Droid smartphone that came out several years back. The phone jam packed a ton of bells & whistles into its hardware and software to give a lot of bang for your buck. This is what it feels like amazon has done with the Kindle Fire 8.9. They have put a lot of advanced hardware and innovative software, so for the average user, specially someone who absorbs a lot of media, you get a lot for the price. But just because you get a lot for the price, doesn't mean it is without its flaws. This is an updated version of my likes and dislikes, (my original analysis was a bit rushed, this is more detailed):

LIKES

Build Quality

I like the build of this product, it has good material design and durability. It feels nice in your hands and comfortable to hold with easy access to buttons. Since this is only 8.9" and not 10 or 11 inches, it is easier to grasp and hold in one hand with an overall good aesthetic look and feel to it.

Speakers

I have to say, the more I listen to it, the more I like the sound. The speakers are definitely a step up from the norm and probably one of its best features. They produce a full, rich, and very vibrant sound you can experience music and movies the way they were meant to be experienced. It is not a home theatre experience, but as close as one can get with a small device like this.

Screen

The display is very nice. I'm not sure if it compares with the clarity of Super Amoled or Retina screens, but it comes close. High screen resolution is not special to the Kindle, lots of tablets now have high resolution screens, some higher. What this screen has that other tablets don't is the anti-glare, which works well under sunlight and highly lit places, it's not something that seems advantageous until you work with a screen that doesn't have this.

Internet

Kindle's Wi-fi and Silk Browser make internet browsing fast. I did a comparison with a Samsung and Apple tablet, and noticed that the surfing was faster, it wasn't a huge difference but it was noticeable. Streaming audio and video had a bigger and more noticeable difference, with the Kindle being very smooth, with fewer lags and dropped connections. This is key for me, I hate streaming content with pauses and breaks in loading, there is less of that in the Fire.

Reading Experience

In my opinion, this is Fire HD's best feature, delivering a better reading experience than any tablet right now. This is no surprise as books are Amazon's claim to fame and where they excel and have always excelled. I don't know if you remember, but before Amazon was Amazon, they were the first online retailer for books. Before there was an iPad, there was the kindle. They have always been at the forefront of the book buying and reading experience, now especially digital books. I think I remember reading that the Kindle was the main reason Borders Bookstore went out of business, Borders said they just couldn't keep up with or match Amazon's delivery system.

Now with this Fire HD, they offer even more advancements. With its X-ray for books, its 'reading view' that takes away messy images on a site leaving only text, `immersive' reading that lets you play an audio book while reading, whispersync technology, and better optimization of text, other devices can't match. Granted it doesn't compare to digital ink like on the original Kindle for me did the best to mimic actual reading, but as far as tablets goes its better than what is out there. If you are getting a tablet primarily for reading, this is gonna be a good choice.

Amazon Universe

I have a love hate relationship with Amazon's Universe of services. I don't like how even though the Kindle HD uses Android, it is somewhat restricted. Also, they don't have as many apps as google or apple. But taking everything else into account, movies, books, music, prime lending library, prime movies, amazon is better. The big drawback is you have to own a kindle to fully enjoy their universe, which means if you own a kindle, you are limited from using other company's universe.

Apps and other features

All the apps work fine, they start and stop as they should, nothing to criticize or brag about. The touch screen is smooth and responds good, though nothing like iPad...hate to say it but iPad thumps everyone on that, their touch and scrolling is very fluid and just feels right. I don't have kids so I can't really comment on the parental controls but from other reviews seems like something to have if you have kids. Can access email and everything fine.

DISLIKES

When it comes to bringing together the right mix of original and developing technology in a tablet, like the first Droid phone, Amazon did an admirable job. It merged a mix that most of us will enjoy and find useful. Although Amazon has put original elements that make this tablet worthy to compete in the tablet world, at the same time, they've done some things that make you question what they're doing.

Ads

This is the most disliked innovation to hit electronics since the Windows phone (and I don't mean the Windows 7 phone, I mean its predecessor, which was so disastrous nobody heard about its release and was pulled from shelves within two weeks). Microsoft was smart enough to pull its mistake, Amazon seems to continue to run with theirs.

No Charger

As you have read in other reviews, this product does not come with a standard charger. I don't like that other reviewers excuse this by claiming it makes the product cheaper. Chargers are not expensive to produce so I don't think it makes the product cheaper, it gives Amazon more opportunity to recover the Kindle cost by charging $20+ dollars for an accessory that probably only costs a few dollars to make. Not sure how accurate this is, it's my own decision I've reached as it doesn't make sense not to include a standard charger adapter because for most people including myself, this is not a pc companion, rather a pc replacement. Without a real charger, it becomes a companion. Yes, you can buy one, but why make us do that.

Camera

The Kindle Fire 8.9 only has a front facing camera. It is useful for video chatting, but not for taking pictures. If I want to take a picture of something outside myself, I have to point the screen in that direction, which means I can't see what I am taking a picture of or have easy access to the camera buttons, doesn't make sense.

This is some of the qualms I have, nothing revolting.

All in all, do I like this Kindle HD? Yes. Will I keep it? Probably. Do I think it is the greatest tablet in the world? In some respects, yes, in others no. Should you buy it? The answer is this is not an all-in-one, do everything machine that the likes of iPad claim to be. With this it seems like amazon focused on some key things, like watching movies, listening to music, surfing the internet, and reading books. The things they concentrated on, they made sure to go full force to give users the best experience they could. They are things that most of us average users are going to use a tablet for...email, streaming, social media, video, music, for what amazon focused on with this product like I said they did admirably.
5150+ comments| 9,839 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on November 16, 2012
My wife purchased the new Kindle Fire HD 8.9" for me and have to say it is definitely one of the more nifty devices, with lots of cool features and options. Before I talk about them, I'd like to say that I enjoy tech gadgets and I usually get my hands on the latest and greatest ones. Although, I don't buy everything that comes out, I do play around and keep myself up-to-date with what is out there. Also, I don't hook myself into a particular manufacturer. If a product is good, I will purchase, use, and tell people about it. If something better comes out, then I move on. This review will cover the Kindle HD as well as my experiences with other devices.

Display

This tablet has a very nice and fresh looking display. The images are super sharp and everything looks crystal clear. It is easy to view on off angles, which is useful when me and my friends are viewing the screen at the same time or for using the device in presentations and meetings. The anti-glare feature is a nice touch, I can view it in direct sunlight without a huge loss in clarity. Granted, it's not as great as in dim light or shade, but it does the job.

Audio

The audio was a huge selling point for me. Most speakers on laptop, netbook, and other portable devices like tablets and smartphones produce poor quality sound. You always have to plug in external headphones to really enjoy music and movies. That issue doesn't exist with the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" These speakers get loud, and with Dolby technology, produce an enjoyable experience. Again, this can come handy when you are listening/viewing the device with multiple people.

Wifi/4G

I really like the Kindle Fire HD's dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi. It not only does a better job of streaming HD content, but it allows you to connect to more types of signals. WiFi routers vary, some are old and outdated, while others are newer and function better working on different bandwidths and frequencies. Kindle can connect to all the different varieties. This is very handy if you travel a lot like me and need the ability to connect to whichever random connections you can find in the moment.

Bluetooth

Nice, handy feature, I don't know why more devices don't have them. I can connect to my Bluetooth wireless headphones and walk around the house without being tied to the device. Also, I can have the Kindle connected to my other Bluetooth devices without having to be next to them. Not a deal breaker, but a nice feature.

Silk Browser

Silk is a neat innovation in internet surfing. It predicts what links on a site you will navigate to, and downloads those pages b/f you click on the link. This increases the load speed of webpages. The concept is interesting, and it proves useful when you've lost internet connection, because if the pages were downloaded prior to you losing the connection, you can still navigate to them.

Ads

This is the part of the Kindle HD I dislike; the whole ad concept is unwise. Not only does it come off unprofessional, it adds an unnecessary decision/step in the purchase process. The price difference is not much, so Amazon should either price the device higher or just chalk up the cost. As a buyer, if ads are an issue, since your spending $300 - $500 on a device anyway, spend a little more so you don't have to deal with it...unless of course you like to be kept up-to-date with ads.

Outside of the ads, this is a fantastic media machine. With the display, speakers, dual core processor, and graphics card, it is the good for gaming, music, movies, and video. Add to it the Silk browser and the dual band, dual antenna Wi-Fi, it also becomes good for internet browsing, allowing for better streaming of those games, music, movies, and video.

Vs iPad 3

The main advantages iPad has over Kindle HD 8.9" are that iPad's Retina display gives its screen a higher resolution, but not by much. iPad 3 has both a front and rear camera, while the Kindle HD has only the front facing camera. Amazon says the front facing camera is HD, but I'm not sure what that means. The iPad has GPS which the Kindle HD lacks. The clear advantage for Apple is the number of apps. Apple phones and tablets have the most apps of any competitor.

On the other hand, the Kindle HD 8.9 is a bit thinner, lighter, and smaller than the Apple counter part. iPad has only a single mono speaker, while as mentioned, Kindle has the Dolby stereo speakers. Kindle's screen is a 16x9 aspect ratio (like Movie and HDTV screens), while the iPad is 4x3. What this means is that movies will display larger on the Kindle, using the entire screen whereas iPad will display smaller, leaving bars along the top and bottom.

For most people, the key distinction between iPad 3 and Kindle HD 8.9" is the price. The Kindle HD is considerably cheaper, with the WiFi model costing $200 less than iPad 3's comparable model, and the 4G LTE costing as much as $230 less than iPad 3's 4G LTE (even the iPad 2 and iPad mini are more expensive than the new Kindle). Take into consideration the data plan, and you are saving another $150 in the first year with Kindle HD.

Another disadvantage of the iPad is that you get the deliciously awkward pleasure of joining a cult that brainwashes you into thinking buying Apple makes you different, better, while offering an advanced product; when in reality they are like the million other Apple users, spending twice as much for a device that is rarely up to speed with current technology.

Falling behind in technology is one of the main reasons I've strayed from Apple over the few years. The original iPod and iPhone were true innovations. You might even say the iPad was an innovation, even though it was simply an oversized iPhone, even using the same operating system. To make their products work smooth, Apple's uses highly specialized components in their products. This makes it difficult for their products to evolve as quickly. The initial iPhone was one of the last phones to make the switch to 3G. And even though 4G has existed for nearly 2 years, iPhone made the jump only a few months ago. Apple's prized Siri is just an enhanced version of Google's voice activated search, which came out 2 years prior to Siri. Now Apple is playing catch up with the iPad mini and Amazons already on its second generation 7" tablet.

Vs Google Nexus 10

Before starting this comparison, I would like to point out a couple things. One, evaluating the Kindle Fire against the Nexus is more an apple's to apples comparison as they are both use the Android operating system. The Nexus is a 10" tablet (hence the name), while this review is for the 8.9" Kindle HD. Both companies have a 7" counterpart with the Kindle HD 7" and Nexus 7, though the comparison here is strictly between Kindle HD 8.9" and Nexus 10.

It is also important to note that Google is the main reason anyone is able to compete with Apple phones and tablets right now. They are the creators of the Android operating system that are used in majority of non-apple devices. Tablets like Amazon's Kindle Fire and Samsung's Galaxy Tab really owe it to Google's open source Android operating system for their ability to participate in the tablet market.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let's begin the comparison. Both Kindle HD 8.9" and Nexus 10 run version 4 of Android. However, Nexus runs the updated 4.2 Jellybean, while Kindle Fire HD runs the 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (the names are silly, but they are memorable). It is important to note, the version in Amazon's tablet is heavily customized. The customization has its advantage and disadvantages. The advantage is Amazon can offer things such as parental controls that can limit what your kids can do and for how long. The disadvantage is there are restrictions on certain features like Google's Play store.

As mentioned, Kindle HD is 8.9", the Nexus is bigger coming in at 10." Both have a front-facing camera but only the Nexus 10 has a rear one, which is 5 megapixels. Both have HD displays with Gorilla Glass and micro USB & HDMI connectors for HD video output. Google's display is higher resolution (even higher than iPad's retina), while Amazon's display has the polarizing filter and anti-glare technology. Both Fire and Nexus offer stereo speakers, but only Amazon offers Dolby sound.

As far as hardware, both boast a dual core processor, though Nexus is a little faster at 1.7Ghz against Fire HD's 1.5 Ghz. On the other hand, Fire HD has more storage capacity starting at 32GB and going up to 64GB, whereas the Nexus starts at 16GB and goes up to only 32 GB. Kindle HD 8.9 comes in both a Wi-Fi and 4G LTE version, Nexus 10 comes in only a Wi-Fi version. Kindle has the dual antenna and dual frequency Wi-Fi, I believe the Nexus comes in only dual frequency, not dual antenna.

The Nexus 10 excels in that it has the NFC chip for device-to-device communication, GPS, and it is fully integrated out of the box with Google services like Maps, Drive, and Gmail. As mentioned, Amazon's modified Android places restrictions on some of these services. Also, since Google makes Android, it is highly likely that updates to the Android operating system will likely be released to Nexus devices before Kindle Fire devices.

As it relates to price, like with iPad 3, Kindle Fire HD has the clear advantage. The Nexus starts at $399 while the Amazon 8.9" starts at $299. The next model up for Nexus is the 32 GB version which costs $499. At that price, you can get the Kindle not only at 32GB, but with 4G LTE. As far as price, Kindle has everyone beat.

Conclusion

These are the major players in the world of tablets today. There are other manufactures like Samsung and Acer, however, they don't offer an extensive ecosystem of apps, media, and services like Google, Apple, and Amazon. Also, as stated earlier, most tablets use Android's operating system, so aside from hardware size and features, they are going to offer an experience similar to the Nexus.

The question that beckons is which one to buy? If you really like one company's ecosystem of services, the answer becomes less difficult - get that company's device. That is, if you like Amazon's Whispersync technology, Silk browser, Xray for books and are a Prime junkie, then go with Kindle Fire HD. If you are a fan of Google Play and their services, consider the Nexus. If you are diehard Apple, well, I don't have to say what your going to go with...though if you go with Apple, do it and be quiet. Don't be like the masses of Apple customers who feel the need to run around advertising to the world about how they own Apple. Ranting and raving doesn't make you cool, it just shows how childish and insecure your need for validation is. Although, you might think you are cool, we all laugh and talk behind your back.

On the flipside, if you are not overly committed to any company's services and are looking for a good overall tablet for a good price, then the clear winner is the Kindle Fire HD 8.9". Given the hardware specs, its focus on media, internet, and reading, and the price point, it is hands down the best value. In my opinion it is the most advanced, feature rich device for the price.

I love technology and enjoy following its progression, I've really enjoyed sharing my thoughts about this so I hope you've found it helpful.
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on June 22, 2014
After going round and round- thinking about what tablet/TV Fire combination to get- I tried the 7” HDX but found it small and hard to read from – I am older and my eyes aren’t what they used to be so I sent it back and ordered a refurbished 8.9HD – What A Mistake! The tablet came and seemed to be ok until I started adding aps – the tablet only worked in landscape mode and wouldn’t change to portrait for reading- also certain corners of the tablet wouldn’t work when navigating so I was constantly turning the tablet from one side to the other to get it to work properly. When they say “Refurbished they mean they started it up – it lit up- so they sent it out again without making sure all of the features worked! I was very disappointed – So it is being boxed up to be sent back – Saving the $30.00 on the refurbished model was a penny wise - pound foolish mistake- Buy the new one! Save yourself the time and aggravation! It is worth the extra $30.00. The HD is a great model and the size is great! I think I am going to love the New one I just ordered.
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VINE VOICEon December 23, 2012
I'm writing this review on my new Kindle Fire HD 8.9" right now, stylus in hand, testing things out, making sure that things all work as they should. Had thought about writing the entire review with this device, but the more I get into it, don't think that I can do it justice this way, so I'll just make my notes here as I go, then save them to the Amazon Cloud.

Of the four different Kindle Fire HD 8.9" models available at the time of this review, I picked the one that would best fit my personal needs. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9", Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB was chosen based on prior experience with the first generation Kindle Fire, as I had found no problems whatsoever with Wi-Fi in my area, either in the home or within the establishments that I visit. Picked the model that includes special offers, as personally they don't bother me a bit.

Breaking this down into sections, I'll offer a subjective overview of what's good and not so good, followed by more details.

Likes:

+ Excellent display; very easy on the eyes, good access to Amazon and to the `Net
+ High resolution; 1920x1200 HD display, rich color from all viewing angles
+ Strong Wi-Fi connectivity; dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi, fast downloads & video streaming
+ Exceptional sound quality; offers true Dolby Surround Sound
+ Long battery life; over 10 hours average, measured and confirmed
+ No setup needed; ready to go and runs right out of the box
+ Built-in micro HDMI port; allows for 1080P to be streamed to the TV
+ Prime Instant Videos; unlimited, and so many from which to pick
+ Excellent product feel; very solid and comfortable to the hand
+ 16GB storage; about 12.7GB available to the user, more on the Cloud
+ Good clean styling; minimalist, yet highly functional

Dislikes:

- No charging indicator light/LED as on 1st generation Kindle Fire
- No charger; it could have been factored into the base price

First Impressions:

Amazon isn't kidding when they offer fast delivery on the new Kindle Fire models. Mine was received within 36 hours from time of ordering, and the minimalist packaging is quite good, with the USB cable stowed in the box lid. Ordered it with the charger, though I already had one from earlier, and immediately charged it even though it comes partially charged. Setup is minimal, making it all so easy. Once it was fully charged, took it online and immediately installed the Battery HD Pro app and ran the full calibration routine as suggested, just as I had done last summer with the original Kindle Fire; this one is highly recommended.

The Kindle Fire HD 8.9" came preloaded with content already purchased before. The Home screen offers a search bar at the top, with additional groupings below: Shop, Games, Apps, Books, Music, Videos, Newsstand, etc. Additional groupings will show up when it's held in landscape mode. Below these there's a carousel of recently viewed material, be it a book, app, web page, movie, etc.

Exploring the new Kindle Fire HD for a few hours, it was apparent that this unit is no simple upgrade over the original. The larger 1920x1200 HD display is clearly sharper, compared to 1024 x 600 on my original 7-inch Kindle Fire, and the reduced screen glare is immediately apparent, probably due to its built-in polarizing filter. The colors were deeper and more intense, with darker blacks and even at varied viewing angles. The 1920×1200 HD also helps make text crisp and sharp, and reading books and magazines is a pleasure.

The real test came when I tried uploading some ultra-sharp high resolution JPG photos, and was quite pleased at how well they were rendered on the screen. The display on this Kindle Fire HD 8.9" is rated at a very dense 254 pixels per inch (ppi), making it excellent with the 300 & 600 ppi photos that I had uploaded. Tried a few HD videos as well, and the more vivid colors and deeper blacks were apparent, again even at different viewing angles, a step up from my original Kindle Fire.

Hardware:

The Kindle Fire HD 8.9" has a good look and feel. It's actually quite a minimalist device, and is easy to hold even without a case. Measuring slightly less than 9½ x 6½ inches and only 0.35 inch thick, it has beveled edges, which make it feel even thinner. Weighing in at 20 ounces, it has a solid feel, and the screen surface feels quite robust. Some sources have noted that the screen is made from Gorilla Glass, which may account for the solid feel, but that remains to be verified. The power button is a simple pushbutton, which is nearly flush with the device; no snags here.

Wi-Fi Connectivity:

As noted earlier, I chose the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" that is equipped with dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity because of earlier experiences with the original Kindle Fire. What I found with this new one was surprising. The product description claims that it offers "over 40% faster speeds" due to the dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi. Where I live there's plenty of connectivity, but it can dip or stutter now and then. This newer Kindle Fire HD is said to be able to switch automatically between the more congested 2.4 GHz and less congested 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequencies, and I've experienced a longer range and faster overall speed, so it works.

Processor & Storage:

I never had issues with the performance of the original, but this Kindle Fire HD really does perform faster. It's probably the combination between its newer dual-core 1.5 GHz TI OMAP4 4470 processor and the improved Imagination SGX544 3D graphics core, but there's a noticeable difference, both in speed and graphics rendering. Videos are smoother and far snappier. As far as storage goes, I picked the 16 GB version as I do not accumulate as much as others. Most of the items stored here are books, magazines, photos, some videos and MP3 music files. The Amazon Cloud is where much of my content is kept, and after a book is read, it goes back there for storage so that it can be pulled when need. Keeps things simple and accessible over multiple devices.

Web Browsing:

The newest version of Amazon Silk works well on this device and offers faster page loads than previous versions. But one of the first things that I did was to switch the default search to Google. It's a personal thing, easy to do, and it allows me to search just as I would on my Windows PCs and on my MacBook Pro. It's fast, easy, familiar and far less hassle that way. Luckily this Kindle Fire HD makes it easy to do in the settings, and it just takes a few seconds of exploring to do it.

There is Facebook integration as well, and you can import your photos from Facebook to your Amazon Cloud Drive and view them there, along with any other photos you may already have placed in your Cloud Drive. But a word of caution here: if importing your images directly from Facebook, you're cannot specify which photos you want to import; you'll end up importing them all. Just be aware of this before you start.

Email & Address Book:

Email setup was a breeze. I use Gmail as my primary, and it was set up and configured within seconds. Once that was setup, the Gmail address book was simple and smooth, and no problems encountered. The larger screen on this device makes it a breeze to access Gmail, read messages and to reply to them.

Accessing Apps:

There are a number of apps that I use from Amazon's Appstore for Android, and was most curious to see how these would function on the new device. There's a "Compatibility with your devices" checkbox in the upper right of each app, and if it's designed to function on the Kindle Fire HD, there's a green checkbox. Most of the apps that I use have to do with news, travel, photo imaging, word processing, music and utilities. There are a few that won't work on the new device, yet with all of the choices in the Appstore, have yet to find a number of apps to fit my needs. Many of them offer a test drive so that you can decide if it works for you.

I'm the wrong one to comment on game performance, as there are very few that I've even tried. The few that I've installed to see what the experience was like seemed to perform well, but not being a gamer, my opinions would be almost worthless.

In the Clouds:

I've found the Amazon Cloud Drive to be invaluable for storage, and quite easy to use as my freebie backup for books, magazines and apps. But it can also be used to back up documents, photos, videos and other digital files. This review was initially stored on the Amazon Cloud when it was being written, and from there downloaded to my PC for final edits. There's a free desktop app that one can download for access and connection to the Amazon Cloud that makes life easy, and it works well.

But my main cloud storage for general use on my PCs and MacBook Pro is the Google Drive, and I looked for an app to install it, but it didn't exist in the Amazon Appstore. There are workarounds, but I hate wasting time hacking apps and interfaces, so I dug deeper... and it was there, in my Gmail settings, along with my address book and the Google+ access. Simple, no hassles, and it works.

Sound Quality:

Didn't know how well the tiny stereo speakers would work on this version of the Kindle Fire HD would work, but it's said to offer Dolby Digital Plus, and that they were tuned to better reproduce low, bass notes, and without distortion. So I tested it using a particular track that I've used before: Strauss: Introduction to Also Sprach Zarathustra, also known as the Theme from 2001, A Space Odyssey. This particular pure digital (DDD) track has the full dynamics that can bring your speakers to their knees. Without getting too deep here, the opening ultra low notes could be heard, and the kittle drums were surprisingly clear.

This also held up quite well with a couple more music tracks, some films and videos that I watched. Distortion is truly minimal, and there is a slightly different though quite good sound when headphones or external speakers are plugged in. Over it's quite better with stereo sound than anticipated.

Bluetooth:

Setting up Bluetooth was very easy. I paired it with the Plantronics Voyager Legend headset as an audio alternative and tested it with Skype for future use. No problems encountered, and the audio quality was quite good.

Reading Books & Magazines:

There's no doubt that the 1920x1200 HD display adds to the enjoyment of reading books and magazines, and the sharper text is very easy on the eyes, especially late at night when one is tired. With the X-Ray for Books feature, you can easily get more info about characters, locations, terms, and historical figures mentioned in a Kindle book, and it also highlights exactly where in the book those details are mentioned, allowing you the ability to jump right to the appropriate page. It also allows you to get biographies and more from Wikipedia and Shelfari.

Gripes/Complaints:

There's no such thing as a perfect product, and in that this Kindle Fire HD 8.9" isn't alone. My older 1st generation Kindle Fire has a charging indicator LED built into the power button, and I was surprised to see the lack of the same on this newer product. Let's just call it an irritant. The other gripe is that there was no charger included as there was with the original Kindle Fire, and a decent charger is essential for this device. As of this writing you can get the Amazon Kindle PowerFast charger for about half price, but only if it's ordered at the same time as the Kindle Fire HD, so if you're considering one of these, be sure to order it at the same time.

Accessories & Cases:

Though the device offers a 10-point multi-touch interface, which is quite good and far superior to the earlier interface from the original Kindle Fire, I've reverted to old habits and use a amPen New Hybrid Stylus for most applications. This one is quite responsive on the screen, and for some of us it's a faster way of working.

Also picked up the Marware Vibe Standing Case for Kindle Fire HD 8.9" based on past experience with a smaller one for the original Kindle Fire. This is a solid 4-star product, but the more costly Marware Revolve Portrait and Landscape Standing Case for Kindle Fire HD 8.9", which is made from genuine leather lined with soft microfiber interior, may be a better and more functional choice for many. These are just two among the many to be found here; the choices are yours.

Summary:

The Kindle Fire HD 8.9", Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB is a solid product, easily worthy of a +4.5 star rating, considering the minor complaints that I've noted above. It has proven to be subjectively the perfect choice for my needs, though yours may vary, and the 4G versions may better suit your needs. The Wi-Fi performance has showed itself to be better than expected, the navigation is quicker than earlier versions, and the higher-resolution screen does a better job displaying menu options. To date I've had no crashed or lockups. It's currently largest tablet Amazon makes at the moment, and it gives you access to all of your Amazon content in high definition. As a multimedia device it has proven to be quite good, and considering how vast Amazon's content offerings are, especially if you're a Prime member, this is probably one of the best media consumption tablets on the market today, and certainly one of the most affordable in its class.

12/23/2012
1212 comments| 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on November 26, 2012
I bought both to see if I could get my elderly parents to use either.

I sat on the couch with them at Thanksgiving and we played with both size screens. Even for simple reading the 7" didn't get them engaged and changing the font size didn't help.

The 8.9 inch screen made a WORLD OF DIFFERENCE as I was able to engage them with reading, games, web searches and the like.

So, it may be intuitive to everyone that the larger screen is better, especially for those not of current technology - but for me it was the difference between getting them to engage and not. They already had a desktop up the stairs and I had installed a router to give them wireless. I wanted something for them to use downstairs such that the stairs would be less of a barrier.

This looks to fit the bill.

Also, the camera will be something I engage too although I haven't yet. Having the camera and Skype on the new version should be a plus and I intend to use that as they are 1000 miles away.

So - if you are trying to do long distance relationships with older folks - the 8.9" screen makes a huge difference.

Good luck.
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on December 21, 2012
This was originally written for another forum, in response to a person who worried that the Kindle would be too difficult to use, and too strictly limited to the Kindle environment. As a much older person and a technophobe, I worried about those things too - but the Kindle Fire and its siblings are far easier to use, for more powerful and flexible, than I had imagined. Users are not limited to Amazon content at all.

In the 36 hours I've had my 8.9 I've subscribed to the National Geographic magazine (gorgeous!!), read the New York Times in a format which looks indentical to the one I'd buy at a newstand, watched a few short instructional videos, read a short e-book, checked our local weather using the very detailed Weather Channel app which comes with the Kindle, perused the CNN news site, checked my Gmail account several times and have written a few emails on the Kindle, discovered that my Google Calendar and all my Gmail contacts were automatically downloaded to the Kindle, purchased several small items - you get the idea. I could have bought movies, shopped for trousers, cameras, sticky buns, software (almost any sort of software)...... You get the idea. I'm a very non-technical person, 78 years old*, using my very first tablet for just 36 hours. I didn't sweat one drop doing all that. The Kindle is set up so beautifully that it almost does it all for you.

Sideloading (this was a question someone had asked) - That's a process whereby a Kindle user can download apps which the Kindle app store doesn't offer. It involves getting the "apk file" for the app (similar to the ".exe" file for any other computer application) from a site which lists them, saving the apk file to the computer, moving it to the Kindle, and installing it. You do have to have another Android device available, one time only, to begin the process - so if you don't have an Android cell phone, for example, borrow one for an hour or so, from a friend or acquaintance (or ask locally on Craigslist, your health club or church, etc).

Yes, there are several steps involved in sideloading. But you can't possibly damage your Kindle, and you don't void your warranty. I've had a an android cell phone for over two years, and there are a few things - a little thing called Weather Bug, a hiking app called My Tracks, a wonderful MP3 player called Power Amp, and Google Maps - all of which are available in the main Google Play Store, but none of which are available in the Android version of the Play Store. One by one, I'll go through that "sideloading" procedure to get them on the Kindle 8.9. I have the 4G version of the 8.9, so the hiking and mapping apps might be available. If not, I'll just have to continue using them on my cell phone.

Applications like Google Maps, GPS, and the hiking app won't work unless you have the $G version of the Kindle, but many other applications will work just fine. Some games are not yet optimized for the HD screen.

Portability - if you're using the tablet almost exclusively in your home, get one with a 10 inch screen. Google makes one, but there are better 10 inchers out there - iPad (boooo!!!) and Asus Transformer 700 have the best screens, and the Asus has a micro SD card slot which is a very nice thing to have. The Samsung Galaxy 10.1 comes very close behind. Any one of those - and also the 8.9 - can be paired with a very light "blue tooth" keyboard, or docked to the keyboard, for those times when you're going to do extensive writing. For short notes and emails, the "virtual keyboard" of the 8.9 is perfectly fine, but the virtual keyboard on a 10 inch tablet would be better. The 10 inch screen would be better for watching videos or movies, or for reading photo-heavy magazines like the National Geographic - but lots of people are delighted with video, photos, and graphics on the 7 and 9 inch screens.

However, if you think you'd like to take the tablet along on trips or carry it around town, the more compact 8.9 inch size is much better. It's also better for reading books, because it's easy to hold in your hand. Don't let anyone tell you the 8.9 is too big or too heavy to hold. It's not.

Portability - I already covered that. I got my 8.9 because it will be primarily a reading tool for books, newspapers, and magazines - but the darn thing is so adaptable that it can do just about anything I'd want.

"Toooo much information" as folks say. Hope it helps.

Bill Hansen
*did I mention how wonderful it is, for these old eyes, to be able to change the size of text as you read?
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on August 28, 2013
I have owned a few Android tablets and when I was looking to upgrade from my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 to a smaller / faster tablet, I was torn between the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9. I finally went with the Fire based mainly on what appeared to be some impressive features for the price as well as the ability to utilize my Amazon Prime membership with the device (The Galaxy Tabs are not supported for some odd reason, yet the Ipads are?).

Since there are thousands of reviews, I'm just going to give my TOP 5 pros and cons.

The pros so far:
1) Setup couldn't have been easier! I love how they had much of the tablet configured with my Prime movies and all my purchased music available, etc. Really well done!
2) The tablet feels good in my hand and I love the "in between" size of 8.9" vs. the 10" I was used to and the 7" which I tried and was way too small for me.
3) The screen is very nice and it has a surprisingly good resolution for watching movies. I will say it's great to finally have a tablet where I can utilize my prime membership.
4) The app store has a good selection and downloading is even easier than the Google Play store. Also, it's nice to be able to make a subtle adjustment to the settings on the device so I can still download apps not available on the Amazon store. Amazon does need to beef up their selection of apps though.
5) I think the speakers are pretty darn impressive! You can hear the difference between other tablets, it's that striking!

The cons so far:

1) I know others have said this ad nauseum, but paying extra for a charger that EVERY OTHER manufacturer includes just left a very bad taste in my mouth. I would have preferred they increased the price of the tablet by $10 or $15 bucks if they really couldn't afford to include it for the price they charge.
2) Although I'm starting to get used to it (out of necessity), I'm not a fan of the carousel at all. I guess I understand why Amazon decided on a modified Android OS, but it would be nice if there was an option to revert back to the traditional Android look as it is far more user friendly than what Amazon has created. Frankly, it's making me question whether I made the right decision to purchase the Fire.
2) Maybe it's just me, but the Amazon web browser is terrible! I don't know if I've seen pages load so slowly since I had an old 486 computer in the 90's! And I have a terrific internet connection at home with a blazing fast router, so I'm pretty sure it's not me. But the Amazon browser showed choppy displays, etc. On some pages, I couldn't even scroll down for 30 seconds to a minute until it loaded. Navigation wasn't good and it's not nearly as customizable as other browsers. Thank goodness I was able to add a third party browser which is working very well (fast and clear, etc.). I know I won't ever use the Amazon browser again unless they have a significant update which corrects all the performance issues.
3) As has been stated by most, the power and volume buttons on the side are so flush to the device that they're extremely hard to access. Raising them just a hair would have made a big difference.
4) The lack of a micro SD slot is a big miss and again makes me wonder if I made the right decision. I guess I was more than a little surprised at how much space Amazon's OS took up out of the 16GB. I would have gone for the 32GB but for some reason it was not eligible for the student discount, which didn't make much sense to me. On the plus side, I do like that all my Amazon media is stored on the cloud and easily accessible and I have a dropbox account for the rest, but there are times you want to store more on the actual device. And the way the Fire is setup, 16GB doesn't provide much flexibility at all.
5) I was very surprised at how poorly downloaded magazines looked on this device. I have a PC World subscription and since they went all digital this past month, the only way for me to read the magazine is by downloading. I would have expected the Fire to be extremely adept at this, but it was quite the contrary. My old Galaxy Tab 2.0 had more clarity and smoother action from page to page. The Fire was extremely choppy and did not display the sharpest picture. In fact, when turning pages the images would distort for at least 5 to 10 seconds on the Fire where that never happened on my other tablets.

In conclusion, I really WANT to like the Fire more than I do. Without an Android based option to view Amazon Prime content and all the options which should make this a "best in class" device, the execution of several key tablet essentials is inconsistent at best. Maybe there are explanations to the issues I've discovered that Amazon could answer but as of now, I'm not sure as to whether I'll keep this after the 30 day return option period.
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on November 18, 2013
I can't recommend this product because of the issues that I have had with it the past 4 months that I have owned it.

First, when it comes to hardware, I would rate it 3/5. It loses two stars because the power button is on the side, right where the average user holds it to browse the web and play games. Because of the location of the button, it is constantly being depressed, putting it in sleep mode, and having to repeatedly unlock it during a game, or while browsing.

The Silk browser is buggy, and I regularly have problems with it crashing. In all fairness, it could be the onscreen keyboard, as most all of my problems happen when the keyboard dialog comes up. Regardless, it makes this unusable for most things that I actually use this for.

It is good for videos, and as an Amazon Prime subscriber, it is a great unit, but it spends more time on my shelf due to the issues mentioned above.

It's a shame, because I really wanted to love this unit, and less than a month after purchasing, it was replaced with a new unit addressing some of the physical button problems that I mentioned above; problems Amazon told me that they had not heard from other customers... Despite the fact that they addressed the problem in the new version.

As a regular Amazon customer, that is using their cloud service, prime, and owns a few Kindle's, this was my most disappointing purchase.
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