Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is a great tablet, but it is let down by Amazon's often over-complicated custom user interface and lack of Google Play access for apps.
Thin and light, nice design, smooth performance, good battery life
Unfamiliar interface, no Google Play access, average camera
Model: Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9
Display: 8.9in 2560x1600 339ppi touchscreen
Processor: 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
Operating system: Modified Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
Cameras: 8MP rear, 1.2MP front
Wireless: 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth
Ports: Micro USB, headset jack socket
Battery: 12 hours quoted battery life
Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is the successor to last year's Kindle Fire HD 8.9, which sees Amazon stepping up its hardware game. However, there's a price to pay for the tablet's higher end specifications, as the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 costs £100 more than its predecessor.
This pits Amazon up against the big products in the tablet market, including Apple's iPad Air and Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1. However, with Amazon's Fire operating system (OS) featuring a somewhat lacklustre app selection, we're not sure that it's ready for prime time.
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is not the best looking tablet on the market right now, but it's a definite improvement over last year's model.
The rear of the tablet is constructed from two plastic materials. Most of the back is covered in a rubberised, soft-touch plastic material similar to that on the Google Nexus 7, which makes the device comfortable to hold. Those who like to keep their tablet free of fingerprints might not be impressed by the material, however, as we have found that the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 takes the title of grubbiest tablet, with the backing and display prone to picking up grease and grime.
An angled glossy black plastic bar covers the top of the tablet, which adds a bit of interest to its appearance. The tablet's physical buttons make things a bit more interesting too, with Amazon taking a leaf out of LG's book by placing the Power and Volume keys on the back of the tablet. Although these took a while to get used to, we soon found our fingers moving naturally to the buttons.
In terms of size, the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 gives the iPad Air a run for its money. Although it's not quite as skinny as the iPad Air, Amazon's tablet measures a mere 7.8mm thick and tips the scales at 374g, lighter than Apple's latest flagship iPad. This means that the device doesn't get uncomfortable to use over long periods, and we found that we barely noticed it when we chucked it in our bag.
On paper, the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 packs an 8.9in 2560x1600 IPS LCD touchscreen display with a pixel density of 339ppi.
This display performs just as well as, if not better than Amazon's top-end rivals. HD movies look great, the screen is especially bright, and we found viewing angles were on a par with those found on the iPad Air.
As previously mentioned, however, during our time with the tablet the screen has proven a nightmare for picking up fingerprints, and it's likely that it will need a daily clean.
Next: Performance, operating system.