Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 review

Doing it Amazon's way on a bigger screen

Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 review

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The Fire HDX 8.9 is an iterative update to Amazon's big tablet series. At £329, $379 it's worth a look because the display and speakers make it an excellent tablet for watching movies on.

The problem is that you're locked into Amazon's ecosystem and you'll only get the full benefit of what the HDX 8.9 has to offer by subscribing to Amazon services.

We liked

The sharp, accurate, bright display is beautiful and it's arguably the single most important thing for a family tablet.

The loud dual speakers and Dolby Atmos sound are impressive and immersive, if only they were front-facing.

Real thought and clever design means the family profiles, parental controls, and family account sharing is a serious draw for the Fire HDX 8.9.

The Mayday feature is so quick and easy. It really adds value for anyone, not just people lacking confidence with technology.

We disliked

Compare those benchmark scores with the other top tablets in this class. The Fire HDX 8.9 is not making the most of its hardware. Stuttering and crashing should be far less frequent.

Amazon's Fire OS 4.0 still feels like a dumbed down platform and it strips out too many of the things that make Android great.

The Amazon Appstore is a very distant third behind the Play Store and the iOS App Store. Too many missing apps and a lack of optimization for the Fire HDX 8.9 are a real disappointment.

I'm having trouble coming up with a real world use case for the average family and Firefly, but even if it was really useful, there's the fact that it doesn't work properly.

Final verdict

If you're looking for a family tablet that everyone can share, and you're happy to dive into the Amazon ecosystem and sign up for Amazon Prime, maybe even pick up a Fire TV as well, then the Fire HDX 8.9 is probably the best tablet for you.

It handles movies and TV shows beautifully. It's a lovely device for reading on. The audio quality is also impressive.

But if gaming and app choice are very important to you, then it's impossible to recommend the Fire HDX 8.9. You will find a much better game and app experience on the Nexus 9 or iPad Air 2.

The display, the sound, the Amazon extras, are all enough to make the Fire HDX 8.9 worth considering, but there are too many weak spots for an unreserved recommendation.

First reviewed: November 2014