Amazon Kindle Fire HDX review (8.9-inch): a high-end tablet at a mid-range price
The latest Fire tablet has some top-of-the-line specs and nice software enhancements, but Amazon's closed-off ecosystem will continue to be a sore spot for shoppers who prefer regular Android.
- Great screen
- Strong performance
- Mayday tech support and other helpful software features
- No Google Play access
- $80 more expensive than its predecessor
It's worth noting just how far Amazon has come since the early days of the Fire line. With the first generation, it was tough to see the tablet as anything more than a content-delivery device designed to keep users locked into the Kindle ecosystem. It was an uninspired bit of hardware that seemingly arrived off the same factory line as the BlackBerry PlayBook. Granted, Amazon's new HDX tablets still aren't the sexiest devices around, but the company's taken great pains to ensure they're some of the best. That means a stellar screen, some zippy internals and a slimmed-down body. Starting at $379 for the 8.9-inch model, the price has come along for the ride as well. It's hardly expensive, but we've long since stopped using the word "budget" to describe it.
Still, Amazon's managed to keep pricing down thanks to its content-centric business model, which assumes you'll continue buying stuff long after you open the box. This comes with some drawbacks, of course -- namely, an ecosystem that's far more closed-off than regular Android would be. But as long as you're stuck with Fire OS, the company's going to do what it can to provide the best experience possible with the addition of some compelling features. Does all that add up to a truly competitive device? Or has Amazon strayed too far from its budget roots?