The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 runs Fire OS 3.0, which is built using Android. However, for those familiar with Android, you'll notice that in terms of appearances, it is very much customized by and for Amazon, with little to no traces of Android on the device at all.
This implementation is definitely not a bad thing, and we find it more intuitive and thorough than, for example, Lenovo's Yoga Tablet 10 UI. When you first power on the device and get to the lock screen, you'll find colorful lock screen wallpapers that change every time you put the device to sleep and wake it up. It's a nice visual touch and shows off the device's brilliant display.
The home screen will show you a carousel of apps, where it will populate with new apps as you use them. This makes it convenient to jump into your recent apps, but you'll also have the option to get rid of them if you like simply by pressing and holding them, then clicking on the option to remove them.
At the bottom of the home screen is dock with apps you might find yourself using often, such as Amazon's Silk Browser, e-mail client, camera, calendar and more.
The top bar has quick shortcuts to games, apps, music, videos, shopping, photos and more. It's very handy when you want to jump straight to a particular feature or Amazon service.
Swipe down from the top and you'll find the Android-style notification panel, along with quick toggles for brightness, auto rotation, Wi-Fi, settings and Amazon's Mayday help service, which we'll get to later.
Whenever you're not at the home screen, there will be either a permanent or disappearing toolbar to the right where you'll have search, back, menu and home options depending on where you are. This is also reminiscent of Android, yet feels very much in line with the rest of Amazon's UI.
It's quite easy to navigate around the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, and getting it set up to your liking shouldn't take more than a handful of minutes out of the box. And again, if you ever have any trouble with using the tablet, Amazon's Mayday is there to help with live, 24-hour video help.
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 features Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 chipset, with its CPU clocked at 2.2GHz. It also has an Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB RAM, so this thing will handle nearly everything you could possibly throw at it.
In terms of real-world experience, it doesn't fail to deliver. We downloaded and played Asphalt 8, a graphically intensive racing game, and it didn't stutter, lag or crash once during our embarrassingly lengthy time playing the game.
Videos streaming from Amazon Prime also performed great. Over our office Wi-Fi connection, which is just as speedy as what you'd find in most homes today, videos loaded up quickly and played without pause every single time.
Obviously, your experiences will vary depending on your connection speeds, but if you've got solid Internet service, the device will just fly.
Opening and closing and switching between apps was smooth as we expected, and every other task in between. Given this thing's Snapdragon 800, there wasn't really anything we could think of that would slow it down. In terms of modern-day tablets and mobile devices, this is as good as it gets.
Because of recent benchmark controversy and certain OEMs gaming benchmark results, we've decided to pass on benchmarking this tablet. After all, it's meant to consume media like books, TV shows, movies and games. What you need to know is that the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 handles all those things with ease.