Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014) Tablet Review

Performance: Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: Throughout our series of benchmarks, the Fire HDX 8.9 trended towards the top of the pack, save for Sunspider, in which it scored in the upper third against the other mobile devices we compared it against. We're not all that concerned with the Sunspider score (787.1ms), as real-world browsing was quick, smooth, and free of annoying lag. In just about every other test, the Fire HDX 8.9 followed closely behind Apple's iPad Air 2 and NVIDIA's SHIELD Tablet, two strong performers. It even managed to take the top spot in GFXBench 3.0's Offscreen Fill test, further underscoring the powerful foundation it's built upon.

The Fire HDX 8.9 is a lesson in tablet redemption. Whereas we were less than enthused about Amazon's entry-level Fire HD 7, the refreshed Fire HDX 8.9 is an improvement in just about every way possible, save for price -- at $379 for the base model, Amazon has definitely tacked on a premium to its top-tier slate, though it's also less expensive than an iPad Air 2 ($499) and Google's Nexus 9 ($399).

What makes the premium tough to swallow are what's missing from the Fire HDX 8.9, like support for Google Play and expandable storage. On the flip side, Amazon brings some interesting amenities to the table, like its excellent Mayday remote tech support service that's available all the time at no extra cost. We're also hopeful that Amazon's Firefly service will improve over time and be better at recognizing everyday objects, which is another unique feature.

And then there are things like being able to configure profiles for different family members and parental controls to limit usage. These are all little touches that collectively help to justify the $379 price tag, especially if you're on the fence between this and another slate.

Powering all these services and features is a solid foundation that's burly enough to handle not just shopping and e-reading chores, but also gaming, which is both smooth and looks fantastic on the tablet's 8.9-inch 2560x1600 IPS panel.

Bottom line -- this is a far easier tablet to recommend than the Fire HD 7. It's not without shortcomings, but it is a compelling alternative to other high end slates, especially if you've already been sucked into Amazon's robust ecosystem and/or are shopping for a family member (we can't say enough good things about Mayday).

  • 2560x1600 resolution
  • Fast performance nearly on the level of the iPad Air 2 and SHIELD Tablet
  • Good sounding speakers (albeit rear-facing)
  • Mayday button for live tech support
  • Fancy features like Firefly
  • Camera's are merely serviceable
  • No expandable storage
  • Can't download apps from Google Play
  • No HDMI output

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