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Kindle Fire HD 8.9 - Speakers, Camera, Battery Life and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Kindle Fire HD 8.9 - Internal Speakers

Although tablets are designed to be media consumption devices, many of them have terrible internal speakers. Amazon has put a bit of extra effort into the Kindle Fire HD 8.9’s speakers, using two drivers that sit as a stereo pair on the rear of the tablet.

It comes with an integrated Dolby Digital Plus mode that tailors the sound to best make use of the still-piddly drivers. We’re slightly disappointed that the speaker array seemingly hasn’t been significantly upgraded over what you get in a 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, but it remains a cut above almost all budget Android tablets.

Having proper stereo drivers is a big bonus when watching movies or TV episodes, and the sound is more authoritative and beefy than what you’d get from a single-driver tablet.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9 - Camera

The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 only offers a single front-facing camera that faces whoever is using the tablet and which can be used for video calling and suchlike. There’s no rear camera, and it’s not something many people of taste are likely to miss. A phone may be a replacement for a compact camera, but a 600g 9-inch tablet is not.

At first there’s no obvious use for the front camera – there’s no dedicated camera app. However, it will work with the Skype app, a link to which sits in your app folder as standard, and other camera-enabled Android apps. The camera uses a 1.3MP sensor, a middleweight model that will give you reasonable video conferencing.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9 - Battery Life

The Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is all about making sacrifices in some areas to achieve wins in others. Its battery life is yet another solid win.

It has a larger battery than the 7-inch version and performs admirably against both the 10-inch and 7-inch Android competition. Set to play a looped video with Wi-Fi turned off and brightness set to 50 per cent the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 stayed awake for 10 hours.

This is a tablet that can happily last the duration of a transatlantic flight – for a handful of movies, in other words. However, we will note that brightness at 50 per cent isn’t all that high so you will probably want to jack it up a bit higher for a better experience.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9 - Value

There are some significant compromises in the Kindle Fire HD 8.9, but Amazon has made almost all of them in just the right places. The main camera, expandable memory and a quad-core processor do not feature. But the high-quality screen and fairly low price make up for this.

The remaining issue is the one that’s hardest to forgive – that the Kindle Fire interface is frequently sluggish, relies too heavily on Amazon’s connected services and blocks-off the customisation that’s a big draw of Android. However, if this doesn’t sound like too much of a hardship, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 makes a lot of sense.

Verdict

Like the 7-inch version, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 offers great value for money. There’s a lot of quality hardware on offer here at a reasonable price, with the high-resolution screen being a stand-out feature. However, you do pay for those Amazon subsidisations elsewhere. The Kindle Fire software is much slower than vanilla Android at this point, making it more frustrating to use than non-Amazon tablets.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 8
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6
  • Screen Quality 8
  • Value 9

Andrys

March 30, 2013, 3:33 pm

Re blocking off customization, you can add any app, game, book, magazine, personal doc, newspaper to 'Favorites' which is an area below the top carousel of most-recent activities.

Then you can access - from anything you're doing - one of your favorites, whether an app, game, or a book, etc., by pressing the Star that's a part of the menu that opens up with a press of the edge "||" icon. When you're through with the other activity, you're placed back where you were, before you interrupted it with one of the favorite activities.

You might want to reset the tablet one time by pressing the power button for about 20 seconds and then letting it go. When it turns back on, it'll have cleaned memory and reorganized things, and this generally takes care of the initial slowness.

I use Dolphin HD browser with mine, which is considerably faster for me than Amazon's 'Silk' web browser. I also use Google Maps, Street View and Google Earth (and the voice feature), getting non-Amazon apps from other app stores like Mobile1 or apknew. To be able to use apps from other appstores, you press Settings/Device and check the box for allowing the tablet to install apps from "unknown sources" - an Android feature Amazon kept.

YorktownDoc

May 21, 2013, 3:41 pm

Awesome. Thanks, Andrys.

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