Notebookcheck

Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014) Tablet Review

Florian Wimmer, Stefanie Voigt (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 06/14/2015

Fire and Origami. Once again, the fourth generation of the Fire HDX 8.9 is a tablet with great multimedia capabilities. However, the software limitations are still significant. So is it a tablet only for Amazon fans?

For the original German review, see here.

You should know what you get when you buy a tablet from Amazon’s Fire-series: In the past, the technology has been quite sophisticated and sometimes even innovative, but the preloaded software is very focused on the Amazon universe and wants – very much like Apple – bind the customer to one retailer. This means you lose flexibility, but you can get a small discount on the hardware price via ads during standby.

The new Fire HDX 8.9 is the latest iteration of the top model from Amazon’s tablet series. The predecessor impressed us with its high-resolution display in particular. However, the main focus of the new model is the chassis. Let us see whether this is enough to compete with the Apple iPad Mini 3, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A or the LG G Pad. Other rivals are the Google Nexus 9 or the Nvidia Shield.

Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014 (Kindle Fire Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
2048 MB 
Display
8.9 inch 16:9, 2560 x 1600 pixel, capacitive touchscreen, IPS, Polarizing filter, glossy: yes
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
, 9.2 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm stereo jack, Sensors: Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Rotation sensor, GPS
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 7.8 x 231 x 158 ( = 0.31 x 9.09 x 6.22 in)
Battery
23 Wh Lithium-Polymer, 4500 mAh, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 18 h
Operating System
Android 4.4 KitKat
Camera
Webcam: 0.9 Megapixels (front); 8.0 Megapixels, AF, flash (rear)
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo speakers with Dolby Audio, Keyboard: virtual keyboard, Power adaptor, micro-USB cable, MayDay, Firefly, FreeTime, Amazon InstantVideo, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
375 g ( = 13.23 oz / 0.83 pounds), Power Supply: 59 g ( = 2.08 oz / 0.13 pounds)
Price
400 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

A new feature of the case is the rubberized back with a glossy plastic stripe on the upper edge, which accommodates the stereo speakers. The camera module with LED flash is slightly protruding, and the entire edge area is slightly angled. The front of the new Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 looks very similar to other tablets: Black with a comparatively wide frame around the display and rounded corners.

The edges of the back are stretched around the display, but the gap is not always very even. The haptics are good, but we are not really satisfied with the stability since pressure from the front and the back is visible on the display. It is also possible to twist the device and you can hear slight creaking noises in the process.

260.9 mm / 10.3 inch 165.9 mm / 6.53 inch 8.95 mm / 0.3524 inch 512 g1.129 lbs242.5 mm / 9.55 inch 166.8 mm / 6.57 inch 7.5 mm / 0.2953 inch 456 g1.005 lbs231 mm / 9.09 inch 158 mm / 6.22 inch 7.8 mm / 0.3071 inch 375 g0.827 lbs228.3 mm / 8.99 inch 153.7 mm / 6.05 inch 7.95 mm / 0.313 inch 422 g0.93 lbs221 mm / 8.7 inch 126 mm / 4.96 inch 9.2 mm / 0.3622 inch 371 g0.818 lbs200 mm / 7.87 inch 134.7 mm / 5.3 inch 7.5 mm / 0.2953 inch 331 g0.73 lbs

Connectivity

There are various versions of the Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 and the high-end configuration retail price is about 600 Euros (~$676). All devices share the same SoC, display resolution and battery capacity; they only differ in terms of storage capacity and LTE functionality. The Wi-Fi model is available with 16, 32 or 64 GB, while the LTE version is only available with 32 and 64 GB (starting price of 544 Euros/~$612). You will get a discount of 15 Euros (~$17) if you can live with ads on the lock screen.

Software

Shortly after we turned the device on, we were notified of an update of the system software, therefore we performed the review with Fire OS 4.5.4. This is based on Google’s Android 4.4.3, but the user interface differs quite significantly from Google’s operating system. You also get a row with apps at the bottom that are defined as favorites, but above it is an app overview that reminiscent of Apple’s cover flow, and you can go through the apps by swiping to the left or the right. At the top is a menu bar, where you can find the integrated search, for instance, which searches the device as well as the Internet and the shop. You can also open a complete overview with the installed apps or directly access several sub-categories like music or videos, but this will launch the corresponding Amazon service.

Similar to Android, a swipe from the top of the screen will open a list with notifications and quick settings, and at the bottom or the side, respectively (depending on the orientation), are buttons for "Back", "Home Screen" and "Search".

The preloaded apps include all Amazon services like "Prime Instant Video" or the wish list, but there are actually some new ideas as well: You can use "Firefly" to identify media contents and products via camera and microphone. The software also works for web sites and phone numbers: The data is processed in the cloud and then compared with Amazon’s product database. You can then buy the corresponding products or get more information. The identification of physical products via camera did not work that well, the barcode scanner on the other hand was more handy, just like the music recognition via microphone.

Mayday can be used by Amazon employees to access the device and give you a tour through the features or help if there are any problems.

Communication & GPS 

The fourth generation of the Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is also available with LTE support, but our model is Wi-Fi only. On the other hand, you get support for all the current standards including the very fast 802.11ac. The signal quality is decent: We still had 3/4 of the signal at a distance of 10 meters (~33 ft) from the router and through three walls. The loading times of the websites were not affected at this distance.

A GPS module is integrated, but the apps in our review had major problems establishing a connection with the satellites or even recognize the module. It was not possible to get a reliable location with any app.

June 22, 2015 update: GPS services available on 4G model. WiFi-only model does not have dedicated GPS functionality.

Front camera
Front camera

Cameras & Multimedia

At the back is an 8 MP camera with autofocus and LED flash. The camera takes really decent pictures for a tablet and is not really affected by darker surroundings. However, brighter surfaces do tend to outshine. Videos can be recorded in 1080p and the quality is decent. With its 0.9 MP lens, the front camera is only suitable for video calls, but you cannot take high-quality selfies.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3

Accessories

Optional accessories include an origami cover with an unusual folding concept for a rather expensive price of 55 Euros (~$62) or even 70 Euros (~$80) for a leather one. A headset is available for 25 Euros (~$28).

Warranty

The standard warranty period is just 12 months, but can be extended to 36 months for 85 Euros (~$96).

Input Devices & Handling

Amazon does not use Google’s standard keyboard, but provides its own version. The lettering on the keys is rather small, and the whole keyboard leaves a strangely crowded impression. You can also use voice recognition or swipe inputs. Obviously it is possible to use other keyboards from the App Store.

The touchscreen works precisely up into the peripheral areas, and the physical control elements for standby and the volume at the back are quite practical. They are also quite easy to use in portrait mode and easy to find with the fingers. It is unfortunate that the control elements for "Back", "Home Screen" and "Search" are integrated as software buttons since there would have been enough space for touch buttons in the wide display frame.

Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard portrait mode

Display

A high display resolution of 2560x1600 pixels is perfect for multimedia contents and results in quite an impressive ppi value of 339. Apple's iPad Mini 3 or the Samsung Galaxy Tab A cannot keep up with an average brightness of 446 cd/m², and at 96%, the brightness distribution is very even.

445
cd/m²
449
cd/m²
454
cd/m²
439
cd/m²
446
cd/m²
456
cd/m²
437
cd/m²
445
cd/m²
446
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 456 cd/m² Average: 446.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 96 %
Center on Battery: 446 cd/m²
Contrast: 1062:1 (Black: 0.42 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 2.65 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.2
ΔE Greyscale 2.82 | 0.64-98 Ø6.4
Gamma: 2.06
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
Adreno 306, 410 APQ8016, 16 GB eMMC Flash
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
Adreno 305, 400 APQ8026, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
Screen
-20%
-25%
-50%
-26%
-23%
Brightness middle
446
357
-20%
394
-12%
360
-19%
430
-4%
455
2%
Brightness
446
344
-23%
392
-12%
331
-26%
411
-8%
469
5%
Brightness Distribution
96
86
-10%
80
-17%
84
-12%
92
-4%
92
-4%
Black Level *
0.42
0.61
-45%
0.51
-21%
0.82
-95%
0.77
-83%
0.68
-62%
Contrast
1062
585
-45%
773
-27%
439
-59%
558
-47%
669
-37%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
2.65
3.35
-26%
3.59
-35%
5.56
-110%
3.17
-20%
3.88
-46%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
2.82
2.09
26%
4.25
-51%
3.59
-27%
3.29
-17%
3.38
-20%
Gamma
2.06 107%
2.4 92%
2.56 86%
2.02 109%
2.39 92%
2.74 80%
CCT
6652 98%
6851 95%
7148 91%
6483 100%
6746 96%
6537 99%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
55
62

* ... smaller is better

The Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 also beats its rivals in terms of the contrast and can easily take the lead with 1062:1. This is also a result of the good black value of 0.42 cd/m², so black surfaces are quite deep and dark.

The detailed analysis with the software CalMAN and a spectrophotometer show that the tablet manages very accurate colors and does not suffer from a blue cast. You can only see minimum deviations compared to the reference values of the sRGB color space.

CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN Colorspace
CalMAN Colorspace
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps

Obviously, the high brightness makes outdoor use possible, but the glossy surface is certainly not perfect and direct sunlight will tire the eyes very quickly.

Thanks to the IPS technology, pictures can be seen undistorted and even from very wide viewing angles. Overall, Amazon uses an excellent display.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles
Outdoor use
Outdoor use

Performance

The Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014) is equipped with a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 APQ8084 SoC  that uses four cores clocking at 2.7 GHz. It is still a 32-bit processor, but this should not really have an impact on the performance, which is clearly ahead of similarly priced rivals like the Samsung Galaxy Tab A or the LG G Pad 10.1. Only the iPad Mini 3 has an even faster processor. Thanks to the Adreno 420 GPU, the 3D performance of the Fire HDX 8.9 is very good. Amazon’s own Silk browser leaves quite a good impression when browsing the web or using modern web technologies. On the other hand, the 16 GB internal storage of our review unit is rather average in terms of transfer rates.

Smartbench 2012
Gaming Index (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
4375 points ∼95%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
3382 points ∼74% -23%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
2759 points ∼60% -37%
Google Nexus 6
2108 points ∼46% -52%
Google Nexus 9
4435 points ∼96% +1%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
4552 points ∼99% +4%
Productivity Index (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
10072 points ∼53%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
4660 points ∼25% -54%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
4718 points ∼25% -53%
Google Nexus 6
7468 points ∼40% -26%
Google Nexus 9
3910 points ∼21% -61%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
8890 points ∼47% -12%
Linpack Android / IOS
Multi Thread (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
650 MFLOPS ∼22%
Apple iPad Mini 3
1480 MFLOPS ∼50% +128%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
MFLOPS ∼0% -100%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
242.337 MFLOPS ∼8% -63%
Google Nexus 9
892.416 MFLOPS ∼30% +37%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
726 MFLOPS ∼25% +12%
Single Thread (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
423 MFLOPS ∼41%
Apple iPad Mini 3
887 MFLOPS ∼87% +110%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
0 MFLOPS ∼0% -100%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
85.196 MFLOPS ∼8% -80%
Google Nexus 9
670.667 MFLOPS ∼66% +59%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
673 MFLOPS ∼66% +59%
AnTuTu v5 - Total Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
47565 Points ∼48%
Apple iPad Mini 3
37527 Points ∼38% -21%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
20887 Points ∼21% -56%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
17247 Points ∼17% -64%
Google Nexus 6
51812 Points ∼52% +9%
Google Nexus 9
56577 Points ∼57% +19%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
55435 Points ∼56% +17%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
805 Points ∼40%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
633 Points ∼31% -21%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
537 Points ∼26% -33%
Google Nexus 6
682 Points ∼34% -15%
Google Nexus 9
516 Points ∼25% -36%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
863 Points ∼42% +7%
Graphics (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
2912 Points ∼10%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
312 Points ∼1% -89%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
399 Points ∼1% -86%
Google Nexus 6
2130 Points ∼7% -27%
Google Nexus 9
8602 Points ∼30% +195%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
8065 Points ∼28% +177%
Memory (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
481 Points ∼8%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
537 Points ∼9% +12%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
493 Points ∼8% +2%
Google Nexus 6
421 Points ∼7% -12%
Google Nexus 9
1509 Points ∼24% +214%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
596 Points ∼9% +24%
System (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
2131 Points ∼13%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
1050 Points ∼6% -51%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
707 Points ∼4% -67%
Google Nexus 6
1604 Points ∼10% -25%
Google Nexus 9
1729 Points ∼10% -19%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
1012 Points ∼6% -53%
Overall (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
1245 Points ∼15%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
577 Points ∼7% -54%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
523 Points ∼6% -58%
Google Nexus 6
995 Points ∼12% -20%
Google Nexus 9
1845 Points ∼22% +48%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
1431 Points ∼17% +15%
Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
3061 Points ∼10%
Apple iPad Mini 3
2479 Points ∼8% -19%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
1443 Points ∼5% -53%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
1075 Points ∼3% -65%
Google Nexus 6
3141 Points ∼10% +3%
Google Nexus 9
2892 Points ∼9% -6%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
3495 Points ∼11% +14%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
1073 Points ∼22%
Apple iPad Mini 3
1373 Points ∼28% +28%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
465 Points ∼10% -57%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
327 Points ∼7% -70%
Google Nexus 6
1043 Points ∼22% -3%
Google Nexus 9
1719 Points ∼36% +60%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
1127 Points ∼23% +5%
3DMark
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
18529 Points ∼21%
Apple iPad Mini 3
7798 Points ∼9% -58%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
9168 Points ∼11% -51%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
7226 Points ∼8% -61%
Google Nexus 6
18113 Points ∼21% -2%
Google Nexus 9
12420 Points ∼14% -33%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
21086 Points ∼24% +14%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
19019 Points ∼4%
Apple iPad Mini 3
19674 Points ∼4% +3%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
3838 Points ∼1% -80%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
4117 Points ∼1% -78%
Google Nexus 6
25480 Points ∼5% +34%
Google Nexus 9
39070 Points ∼7% +105%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
39590 Points ∼7% +108%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
18908 Points ∼8%
Apple iPad Mini 3
14699 Points ∼6% -22%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
4407 Points ∼2% -77%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
4552 Points ∼2% -76%
Google Nexus 6
23368 Points ∼10% +24%
Google Nexus 9
26455 Points ∼11% +40%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
33129 Points ∼14% +75%
Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
841.5 ms * ∼9%
Apple iPad Mini 3
440 ms * ∼5% +48%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
1584.3 ms * ∼17% -88%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
1136.6 ms * ∼12% -35%
Google Nexus 6
784 ms * ∼9% +7%
Google Nexus 9
919.3 ms * ∼10% -9%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
525 ms * ∼6% +38%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
458 ms * ∼5% +46%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
5561 Points ∼11%
Apple iPad Mini 3
5722 Points ∼11% +3%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
2925 Points ∼6% -47%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
1810 Points ∼4% -67%
Google Nexus 6
5271 Points ∼11% -5%
Google Nexus 9
8210 Points ∼16% +48%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
6777 Points ∼14% +22%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
5792 ms * ∼10%
Apple iPad Mini 3
5447 ms * ∼9% +6%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
13257.2 ms * ∼22% -129%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
16133.7 ms * ∼27% -179%
Google Nexus 6
6124 ms * ∼10% -6%
Google Nexus 9
4030.5 ms * ∼7% +30%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
4286 ms * ∼7% +26%
AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
9 MB/s ∼4%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
12.48 MB/s ∼5% +39%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
1.7 MB/s ∼1% -81%
Google Nexus 6
1.49 MB/s ∼1% -83%
Google Nexus 9
14.49 MB/s ∼6% +61%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
0.9 MB/s ∼0% -90%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
15 MB/s ∼9%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
21.56 MB/s ∼12% +44%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
15.5 MB/s ∼9% +3%
Google Nexus 6
7.85 MB/s ∼5% -48%
Google Nexus 9
36.22 MB/s ∼21% +141%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
11 MB/s ∼6% -27%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
48 MB/s ∼12%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
58.91 MB/s ∼15% +23%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
16.31 MB/s ∼4% -66%
Google Nexus 6
18.46 MB/s ∼5% -62%
Google Nexus 9
75.49 MB/s ∼19% +57%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
15.5 MB/s ∼4% -68%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
175 MB/s ∼19%
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
144.73 MB/s ∼16% -17%
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
112.7 MB/s ∼12% -36%
Google Nexus 6
25.78 MB/s ∼3% -85%
Google Nexus 9
279.16 MB/s ∼31% +60%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
83 MB/s ∼9% -53%

Legend

 
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014 Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 APQ8084, Qualcomm Adreno 420, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Apple iPad Mini 3 Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555 Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 APQ8016, Qualcomm Adreno 306, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
LG G Pad 10.1 V700 Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 APQ8026, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Google Nexus 6 Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 APQ8084, Qualcomm Adreno 420, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Google Nexus 9 Nvidia Tegra K1 (Denver), NVIDIA Tegra K1 Kepler GPU, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W Nvidia Tegra K1, NVIDIA Tegra K1 Kepler GPU, 16 GB iNAND Flash

* ... smaller is better

Games

The tablet does not have any problems with modern 3D games like "Real Racing 3", and 2D games like "Angry Birds: Epic" run smoothly. The controls via the touchscreen and movement sensor are reliable.

Emissions

Temperature

You can already feel a slight heat at the lower part (landscape mode) while idling. At a maximum of 35.5 °C (~ 96 °F), it is clearly perceptible, but not yet inconvenient. The upper part of the back around the camera gets particularly very warm under load: according to our measurement device, it reaches up to 43.3 °C (~110 °F), which is quite high while all the comparison devices are cooler. The power adaptor also gets very warm under maximum load with up to 51.5 °C (~125 °F).

Max. Load
 39.1 °C
102 F
39.2 °C
103 F
33.1 °C
92 F
 
 33.3 °C
92 F
32.9 °C
91 F
30.4 °C
87 F
 
 36.6 °C
98 F
37.2 °C
99 F
37.9 °C
100 F
 
Maximum: 39.2 °C = 103 F
Average: 35.5 °C = 96 F
41.3 °C
106 F
42.6 °C
109 F
43.3 °C
110 F
34.7 °C
94 F
36 °C
97 F
37.7 °C
100 F
32.6 °C
91 F
33.4 °C
92 F
33 °C
91 F
Maximum: 43.3 °C = 110 F
Average: 37.2 °C = 99 F
Power Supply (max.)  51.5 °C = 125 F | Room Temperature 21.2 °C = 70 F | Voltcraft IR-260
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 35.5 °C / 96 F, compared to the average of 30.7 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Tablet.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 39.2 °C / 103 F, compared to the average of 34.8 °C / 95 F, ranging from 22.2 to 51.8 °C for the class Tablet.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 43.3 °C / 110 F, compared to the average of 34.3 °C / 94 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 30.1 °C / 86 F, compared to the device average of 30.7 °C / 87 F.

Speakers

The speaker quality was already praised in the review of the predecessor, and the two speakers at the back create a really good sound. The positioning is also good. The speakers are sitting at the slightly angled side, so the sound is hardly muffled when the tablet is lying on its back. Bass is limited, but you can actually feel the vibrations of the chassis. Otherwise, there are slight distortions of the high tones at the maximum volume – overall, a very good sound for a tablet.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The idle power consumption is normal for the performance of the SoC: Up to 4.3 watts is pulled from the battery. The consumption can be as high as 11.1 watts under load, which is much higher than the iPad Mini 3 or the Galaxy Tab A.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.7 / 3.9 / 4.3 Watt
Load midlight 8.2 / 11.1 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 870

Battery Runtime

The 22.5 Wh battery (4500 mAh) is much smaller compared to the rivals: The LG G Pad, which is slightly larger, even has a gigantic 8000 mAh battery. It is therefore not really surprising that the battery runtimes of the Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 cannot quite keep up. At least the Apple iPad Mini 3 is beaten, especially since the new version of the WLAN test results in shorter battery runtimes (iPad tested with the old version). Almost 10 hours browsing are pretty practical and based on our experiences the standby runtime was very good.

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
9h 44min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 36min
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 SM-T555
Adreno 306, 410 APQ8016, 16 GB eMMC Flash
LG G Pad 10.1 V700
Adreno 305, 400 APQ8026, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
Battery Runtime
-3%
43%
106%
4%
-41%
WiFi v1.3
584
862
48%
Load
216
210
-3%
297
38%
444
106%
224
4%
128
-41%
H.264
612
777
597
442
WiFi
533
771
574
347

Pros

+ Great display
+ Decent sound quality
+ Grippy and light chassis
+ Fast WLAN
+ Good camera pictures

Cons

- No storage expansion
- Unreliable GPS module
- Only 12 months warranty
- Temperatures a bit too high

Verdict

In Review: Amazon Fire HDX 8.9. Test model courtesy of Amazon Germany.
In Review: Amazon Fire HDX 8.9. Test model courtesy of Amazon Germany.

Once again, the fourth generation of the Fire HX 8.9 is a good multimedia tablet and control center for the Amazon services, which are pretty comprehensive by now. It offers the combination of high performance, great display and good speakers that are important for media playback.

The GPS module did not really work in our model and services like Firefly cannot always live up to the promises. However, the most important reason against a purchase is the software, which is mainly focused on the services as well as offers from Amazon, and the handling is not always as comfortable as a standard Android tablet. The app selection is also limited, and you have to accept that Amazon collects a lot of data via its own apps.

We deduct one point from the rating for the restrictive software that also results in a limited app selection.

If you already use Amazon for shopping and also use the streaming services of the online retailer, then the Fire HDX 8.9 is a very good platform for media playback. However, you will have to live with the software restrictions if you want to do more with your tablet.

Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014 - 06/10/2015 v4(old)
Florian Wimmer

Chassis
73%
Keyboard
72 / 80 → 90%
Pointing Device
96%
Connectivity
35 / 65 → 54%
Weight
85 / 40-88 → 94%
Battery
91%
Display
89%
Games Performance
68 / 68 → 100%
Application Performance
51 / 76 → 67%
Temperature
86%
Noise
100%
Audio
69 / 91 → 76%
Camera
70 / 85 → 82%
Add Points
-1%
Average
70%
87%
Tablet - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014) Tablet Review
Florian Wimmer, 2015-06-14 (Update: 2018-05-15)
Andreas Osthoff
Andreas Osthoff - Senior Editor Business
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.