"This Best Selling Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Dolby Audio For Sale Tends to SELL OUT VERY FAST! If this is a MUST HAVE product, be sure to Order Now to avoid disappointment!"
The 8.9” screen on Kindle Fire HD features an incredible 1920×1200 HD display, and the highest resolution of any of our tablets. But a truly advanced HD experience doesn’t stop with just a high resolution screen. Kindle Fire HD delivers rich color and deep contrast from every angle, with an advanced polarizing filter and custom anti-glare technology. Our exclusive Dolby Digital Plus audio includes technology to adjust volume, create virtual surround sound, and deliver easier-to-understand dialogue in movies and TV shows. Kindle Fire HD also has the fastest Wi-Fi on any tablet and ample storage for all your HD content.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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!
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 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 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.
Let’s start with the comparison…
Size (and weight) matter – This larger version of the Kindle Fire is smaller, thinner, and a quarter pound lighter than the iPad 3. Of course that means the screen is a bit smaller too, less than 1″. However, the Kindle screen is breathtakingly clear and the weight difference, while it sounds small when you type it into a review or read it as you are now, is really noticeable after just a few minutes of holding the device with one hand while using it.
Price – Another tiny difference is that the Fire is a couple hundred dollars less than a similarly configured iPad.
About the Ads supported version – We never notice them. They are only on the lock screen.
Display – We like the Kindle display better than the iPad. There, I’ve said it and hope I won’t have to go into hiding. It is clear and bright without making everything look like a comic book and shows up well in sunlight without having to turn the display way up (which means the battery won’t drain quickly).
Usability – I’m liking the Kindle interface more and more, compared to the iPad or “Native” android tablets. The Kindle prominently displays apps used most recently and the ones I just installed in a side scrolling “Carousel”. Other apps are just a few taps away. That’s great for me and greater still for my young daughter (see FreeTime, below) since there’s no hunting for the things I’m likely to want the most. The iPhone and other Androids I’ve seen do it the other way around.
First use – First use was very straightforward. I liked that it knew my name without me having to tell it. First thing it did, after greeting me (by name) was ask for my WiFi password. After that it took a few minutes to download updates. When I clicked on the “Apps” menu it already had listed every Android app I bought from Amazon. Same goes for videos, music, and books. I realize iPad does something similar. However, having used both, I feel the Kindle is easier.
On the business side I can access my email accounts, including those in an Exchange server, with no problems. Attachments, including .PDF files, Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets can all be read with no problems.
Back to the fun stuff, YouTube, Netflix, and SmugMug videos stream flawlessly. Pandora provides music without a hitch. It connects to Bluetooth devices quickly and easily.
The Camera – The front facing camera, designed for video conferencing, provides a clear image while the screen provides a vivid image of the person at the other end. We ran some side-by-side tests with our iPad 3 and the Fire always performed better. There is no rear-facing camera for taking snapshots and I figure that’s what my iPhone is for.
FreeTime – We love it!!! This allows us to limit the app’s and sites accessible to our daughter. For us it’s as much to keep her from getting into confusing places that interrupt her activities and keeping her from things we don’t want her to see. This is so much nicer than handing her my iPad or Samsung tablet and dealing with the frequent frustrations from her stumbling into an application she doesn’t understand. OK, these are not so much child friendly as parent friendly but everybody wins in the end.
The Missing Charger – One difference that could be important to some is that the Kindle doesn’t come with a charger. It does include a cable that you can use with any USB charger or computer you may have on hand. However, if you don’t have one of those then you will want to order a charger along with this.
Remember at the start of this I said we originally bought the Fire so my wife can get her iPad back? After using the Fire my wife prefers it and leaves the iPad to our daughter. The only problem is I need to buy a second Kindle Fire because now I want one too.
FIRST THING TO BUY after you get your Kindle: Best 100 Kindle Fire HD Apps (Updated With Top Apps for the Kindle Fire HD!). It’s a bargain at $0.99 (Free to borrow if you’re a Prime member). You can zip through, read descriptions for the mostly free app’s, click on the ones that interest you, and have them installed right away.
A NICE CASE: A little while ago I got an Innovic Multi Functional Handmade Leather Zip Bag for iPad 2 and 3 16gb, 32gb, 64gb edition. Turns out even though it’s made for an iPad it fits the 8.9″ Fire HD pretty well. (I’ve added a video showing how well it works with this Kindle along with my review for that case) It may not be a perfect solution but given the limited options for cases right now, especially for the price (originally $11, it has as of this writing almost doubled since I originally added this to my review and is still a good value), it isn’t a bad temporary choice. (I had a chance to try the Marware Revolve Case for Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Black and will be sticking with this one.)
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 16×9 aspect ratio (like Movie and HDTV screens), while the iPad is 4×3. 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.
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.