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An enlarged version of the 7" HDX - Same good internal components with a nicer screen- still a battery hog though
on November 7, 2013
Simply put, this is the Amazon’s iPad Air Killer. The 7” HDX is the iPad mini killer. Both HDXs inherent very similar hardware. This means the 8.9” version is an enlarged version of the 7” version. For my 7” version review, please search for my HDX 7” review.
My profile: I’m a heavy tablet user for personal and business purposes. I work on my tablet around 4-5 hours a day (Email / Documents / Spreadsheet / PDF) & use the tablet 1-2 hours for personal use such as watching movies or reading books/magazine. The HDX tablet is my go-to device for all internet related search I do. It is also my main electronic device, more important than my smartphones and laptops
I have the following and/or used the following before:
1) iPad 1
2) iPad 2
3) iPad 4
4) iPad Mini
5) Kindle Fire
6) Kindle Fire HD
7) Kindle Fire HD 8.9
8) Asus Transformer with Keyboard
9) Nexus 7 First Gen
10) Kindle HDX 7” – which I also have a review you can check out
As you can see, I been through many devices and hope this review with my experience helps users decide if this is the right device for them. This will be an ongoing review for this device throughout this year. For comparison sake, I will use last year's Kindle Fire HD 8.9 and also the Fire HDX 7” as benchmarks
The same chipset is used on the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 as it is in the Kindle Fire 7” As I mentioned in the 7” review, this is leaps and bounds faster than last year Kindle HD. Last year Kindle struggles to go through any HD video content I put in. This year's HDX able to play seamlessly all the HD 1080p contents I added. It is incredible how much the 2.2Ghz quad processor improved vs last year's model Dual 1.2Ghz.
This screen is a much bigger step up from the original HD 8.9 1920x1200 screen to the Kindle Fire HDX screen at 2,560 x 1,600. The screen is comparable to the iPad Air which I saw in Apple store and text is crystal clear now with such a high per pixel inch density. The viewing angle is just as impressive as you can hang the kindle in the middle of the car and at any seat it is view very clearly. Last year's model was not as clear as this. The overall screen improvement for this year’s Kindle lineup is just impressive
The sound system in this Kindle Fire HDX is using Dolby Digital Plus with virtual 5.1 surround sound. Similar to the 7” that gives this device a much better surround sound then previous generation's.
Like the 7” HDX, this 8.9 HDX is more "angular" than last year's device. It's slightly rougher to hold in the corners than last year's model due to sharper edges though I doubt any users will hold their tablet by their corners.
The biggest improvement is the weight for this HDX 8.9 compared to last year’s HD 8.9, the device is noticeable lighter (567g for Kindle Fire HD vs 374g for Kindle Fire HDX). This mean you can hold this for longer time without fatigue. It’s also lighter than iPad Air and that’s quite impressive.
The power and volume button placement on this Kindle Fire HDX is interesting. It is behind the device which allows it to hide away from front view. However, this can cause user to accidentally hit the on/off button or the volume button when not being careful. Aesthetically it is great but it is definitely not a practical solution when you are trying to use this on the go.
It does look sturdy enough to survive minor drop but I highly recommend getting a case for it. Those sharp corners seems more prone to dents than round corners for last year's model.
With higher resolution similar to the kindle fire hdx 7, the battery life is still the biggest drawback. As mentioned in my HDX 7” review, it takes more to power to drive the battery now thanks to the screen upgrade. Anything on the screen requires higher resolution = more power draw. The 2650x1600 screen pulls a lot of power still compare to last year's model when the screen is on, especially when running HD videos. It maybe fine for casual use but for people who are more absent minded in charging or require this for business productivity purpose, it can be quite annoying when your batteryrunning out of power. Regardless, how much power saving features you have, it seems that the screen resolution is still taking most of the power. I'm able to pull 7 hours of moderately heavy usage vs 9.5 hours for last year's Kindle Fire HD at medium brightness with Wi-fi on all the time. Again, if something like a battery case is available, that will be great. Otherwise, it will be wise to find an external battery pack for this just in case.
Software & software compatibility (8/10):
The amount of app is still lacking compare to App store or Play store but has been steadily increasing which is a great sign. Games and software boot time has increased noticeably and compatibility is not an issue
Like the 7” Silk browser has definitely improved compare to last year's tablet with multiple tabs actually now usable on the HDX. For last year's version, it is practically unusable after 2 tabs due to the lack of hardware resource on the tablet (especially when the website is not optimized for mobile use). The HDX has no problem going through any webpages I throw at it.
Hopefully more apps will be optimized to use quad core soon. I'm guessing some of these apps are only optimized for last year's dual core.
I haven't got the opportunity to use Mayday yet but will review about it once I get more update on this.
Complimentary Accessories (3/10):
Same problem here arises for the 8.9" compare to 7". For all smart devices, one of the most important time is the number of accessories available. At launch, it is understandable the lack of accessories but productivity focus accessories such as integrated case/keyboard are missing at launch. This is rather disappointing as it can be a powerful productivity device with the right accessories attached. Also the lack of case selection is quite astonishing for a flagship product on Amazon. Hope there will be more cases such as battery case (due to above battery problem) or rugged case come out soon. At the moment, will just have to go with the original origami case (which again can be pricey as you can see from my other review)
I got the special offer model at 16Gb (lowest end model) and it is enough for me to use. The special offer ads are not intrusive like last year's model and its does show relevant items I maywant. Compare to the iPad Air, this is a total steal. At this screen range, you cannot find anything comparable
Conclusion in one sentence: Amazon's iPad Air killer (8.5/10)
For people who are justifying if this is a good upgrade from HD 8.9, I say YES to that. The overall lineup for Kindle Fire has vastly improved and that is great on Amazon’s part. The speed and screen difference alone is worth the upgrade. The whole user experience just improve drastically with the HDX.
It used to be, for Kindle Fire HD, you will trade low price for slow performance, stutter and lag. It honestly makes you think twice if the price is really worth all that poor experience.
For HDX, this is no longer the case. You get great price, great screen and great performance that surpass iPad Air. To me, the HDX is Amazon’s answer to an iPad killer. This tablet at the moment has the best performance/price ratio. It really marks how well Amazon has done to make themselves a worthy competitor in the tablet market with no only one device revamped, but an entire lineup of Kindle Fire HDX having such performance leap. I hope some software upgrade or battery pack can make this the ultimate road warrior!
With 7" HDX, it is my e-reader device whereas my 8.9" HDX, it will be my productivity device
This will be reviewed periodically throughout the year. A more comprehensive review on productivity will soon be available. [...] Thanks for reading!