Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014) Tablet Review

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Performance: Battery Life & Camera

There are two cameras on the Fire HDX 8.9, including a 720p HD front-facing camera for video calls and selfies, and an 8-megapixel shooter in the back with LED flash, electronic image stabilization, and a wide aperture 5P f/2.2 lens.

 Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 Front Camera Inside
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 Front Camera Outside

The upgrade from a VGA camera in the Fire HD 7 to a 720p HD lens in the Fire HDX 8.9 results in better shots overall, though still far short of anything worth bragging about. In the shots above, the one on the left was taken inside near a lamp and the one on the right was shot outside during an overcast winter day. They're serviceable for video calls, but suffer from too much low light noise for much else.
 

8MP Rear Camera

The rear-facing camera sports a higher megapixel count and is more advanced, though don't go throwing your point-n-shoot off a cliff just yet.

Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 Dog Picture
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 Decorations Picture
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 Outside Photograph
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 Dog HDR Picture
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 Decorations HDR Picture
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 Outside HDR Photograph
Regular photos on top row, HDR photos on bottom row

It's capable of taking some good looking photos, and even borderline great ones in certain situations, though it's highly dependent on proper lighting. That can be said about most cameras, though this one is more reliant on ideal lighting than most others we've tested.

The HDR function doesn't help a whole lot, either. Instead of enhancing photos by combining different exposures, most of the time the end result is a photo that's significantly lighter with washed out colors. It can be helpful in certain low light situations, though there's already an LED flash for that.

Battery Life

This is a category that's highly dependent on your usage habits, if we may state the obvious. Anything that taxes the CPU and/or GPU like gaming will inherently shorten the battery life, while low level chores such as gaming aren't nearly as taxing.

And then there are factors such as display brightness, audio chores, and so forth. The way we tested battery life was by streaming and looping a movie via Netflix with the brightness set at around 50 percent. We wouldn't normally dial back the brightness quite as much, but we also wouldn't normally watch streaming videos for 8+ hours, either.

In any event, Amazon rates the battery life at 12 hours of mixed use. In our test, it held up for 15 minutes shy of that. Not too shabby.

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