Why I’m buying Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and not looking back

by Don Reisinger

December 1 2013

Don Reisinger is a New York-based technology journalist who writes for CNET and the LA Times. His TabTimes column is published every other Sunday.


The time has come to buy a new tablet. I’ve been using my second-generation iPad and the Kindle Fire for quite some time, but they’re getting a little long in the tooth. And as an avid tablet user, I can’t help but feel the itch to buy yet another slate with the latest and greatest features.

So, I’m down to examining Apple’s iPad Air, the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, and the countless other Android-based tablets on the market right now. Admittedly, all of the devices carry their own unique value. More importantly, they are all priced at a level that I consider fair for what they’re offering.

But after a long evaluation, I’ve decided without any remorse that I’ll be buying the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX over every other tablet on the market.

Amazon has come a long way in the mobile space. The first-generation Kindle Fire I’m using now is certainly nice and works somewhat well, but it’s not the device that will ultimately allow the average person to spend most of their computing time with a tablet. The Kindle Fire, in other words, is a nice complement to traditional computing.

I’m not willing to go as far as to say that the Kindle Fire HDX will drastically reduce my reliance on a laptop, but it’s clear that the slate will go a long way in getting me there. More importantly, it’ll properly bridge the gap for me between my 7-inch Kindle Fire and the 9.7-inch iPad as it relates to screen size and overall usability.

So, what makes the Kindle Fire HDX special for me? Blame it on its price. I’ll be going with the LTE model boasting 64GB of storage. For just $594, I can get my hands on the slate without wasting my time looking at “special offers.”

To put that price into perspective, it’s perhaps best to examine the iPad Air. If I wanted the same 64GB of storage with LTE support, I’d be paying Apple $829. As nice as the iPad Air might be, is it really worth over $200 more than the Kindle Fire HDX? I think not. 

But there’s much more to the Kindle Fire HDX that makes me feel it’s a great option for me. For one thing, the 8.9-inch screen is big enough to satisfy my entertainment-seeking needs. And with its thin design and 13.2 ounces of weight, it’s easily mobile. There’s even a 2.2GHz quad-core processor bundled in the tablet that delivers stellar performance compared to previous generations. 

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For a long time, Apple has attempted to stake claim to its ownership of the high-end display market. The company has done so by promoting its Retina display as a top offering for those who want the clearest picture in a mobile device. But under all of that rhetoric is a very important consideration: Amazon’s 8.9-inch HDX display not only boasts a higher-quality resolution than the iPad Air; it bundles 339 pixels per inch, compared to Apple’s 264 pixels.

Of course, the Kindle Fire HDX isn’t just competing with the iPad Air. Looking around the mobile space, one can easily find several compelling Android-based tablets, including the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. Those devices are running true-blue versions of Android, and like the Kindle Fire HDX, they’re cheap. The Nexus 10, for instance, starts at just $399.

But in my experience with mobile devices, I’ve been generally impressed with Amazon’s Fire OS. The operating system is both usable and safe and it doesn’t hint to the user that it’s running Android. Amazon is far more Apple-like in that regard that it will even let on. Apple doesn't rely on Android of course but, like Apple, Amazon tightly controls the user experience. 

Hurry up and wait

No discussion on the value the Kindle Fire HDX provides can end, however, without mentioning Amazon’s integrated services. I’m a Prime customer, I often boot up Prime Instant Video, and I like Amazon’s Appstore. In other words, I feel at home with the Amazon ecosystem. And I tend to believe that there are many, many people who would feel the same after extended time with the Kindle Fire line.

So, what’s next for me? Unfortunately, more waiting. The Kindle Fire HDX with LTE is available on preorder and will be released on December 10. When that day arrives, expect me to be ditching my iPad and outdated Kindle Fire and jumping feet first into Amazon’s new tablet. And chances are, I won’t look back. That's the plan. Stay tuned, I plan to write about my experience with the new Kindle Fire in a future column.

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Don Reisinger is a New York-based technology journalist who writes for CNET and the LA Times. His TabTimes column is published every other Sunday.
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