Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 review: A must-have tablet for Amazon Prime members

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CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars Outstanding
  • Overall: 8.8
  • Design: 9.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Usability: 8.0
  • Performance: 9.0

Average User Rating

4 stars 3 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is a performance monster that speeds through Web sites and UI navigation at a frantic pace. Its screen is impressively sharp and its body amazingly light for a larger tablet. The Mayday feature gives personal and near-instant customer service. Some small but smart UI additions lead to a simple, welcoming experience.

The Bad The remote video viewing feature won't be ready at launch, and ad-free versions still cost an extra $15. The 16GB of space runs out quickly when storing HD movies, and there's no built-in storage expansion. Lack of Google Play access means many apps still aren't available. The buttons on the back are sometimes hard to find.

The Bottom Line With everything that was great about the HDX 7 and more, the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 isn't just a great value, it sets the standard for a media consumption tablet.

Editors' Top Picks

Like its smaller brother, the HDX 7, the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 shoots toward the top of the tablet hierarchy thanks to three notable features: excellent pricing that's competitive with -- or lower than -- the best large premium tablets on the market; an awesome content ecosystem (especially for Amazon Prime members) that goes toe-to-toe with iTunes; and real-time customer service with the new Mayday button, which brings a live Amazon rep on a video screen within seconds -- for free.

The HDX 8.9 offers all of that and improves on the 7-incher by including an 8-megapixel back camera and a sharper, more color-accurate screen. It's also the lightest large tablet currently on the market.

Unfortunately, not ready at launch are the video sling feature -- you can "kick" videos from your HDX to a compatible device or Smart TV -- nor Goodreads integration. Also, 16GB is fast becoming too small to store HD content, and without access to the Google Play store, HDX owners are still missing out on plenty of Android apps.

Still, as a pure media consumption device there is none better. While the iPad Air is home to the most and best apps of any tablet, the HDX 8.9 starts at $379; that's $120 less than the starting price for the iPad Air and even undercuts the upcoming -- and smaller -- iPad Mini Retina by about $20.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Wireless Connectivity Wi-Fi
  • Weight 13.2 oz
  • Type Fire OS 3.0 "Mojito"
About The Author

Eric Franklin is a section editor covering how to and tablets. He's also co-host of CNET's do-it-yourself and how-to show, The Fix and is a 20-year tech industry veteran.