Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" Tablet Review
The newest bargain tablet from Amazon offers a lot under the hood.
I've recently used the metaphor of using a chainsaw to cut butter, and I think it applies here. Using a brand-new Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 more powerful than the chip in the new Nexus 7, both the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 have a lot of raw power inside that light case. However, raw power is hardly the whole story, and if you've read this far looking for exact performance points, you may not like what you see.
A beautiful visage
The screens on both new Kindle Fire HDX tablets are improved greatly from their elder versions: the 8.9 in particular has a higher pixel density, meaning much sharper pictures. But much like LeVar Burton in Reading Rainbow, you don't have to take my word for it—see for yourself!
Black and white performance is confusingly bad, however. Though the 8.9 inch Kindle Fire HDX has a great black level of 0.37 cd/m2 and a peak brightness of 499.2 cd/m2, gamma is appallingly bad sitting at 1.79 when it should be closer to 2.2. Contrast is very wide for a tablet at 1349:1, but the poor gamma performance really is a splash of cold water on an otherwise hot performance.
Amazon's 8.9-inch tablet hangs tough with the best of them in terms of color reproduction, which we found to be extremely close to the sRGB (rec. 709) gamut. Though this is only a part of the story, color gamut has been a bit of a hot-button issue this year—especially when concerning tablets.
Closer to a candle's flame than a full-blown fire
Battery life is a bit disappointing but more than enough to travel with. In particular, the HDX 8.9" can read an eBook with backlight cranked and wireless off for 6 hours, 43 minutes. This is no small feat, considering that the backlight and screen is so power-hungry. However, you may be able to squeeze more life out of it by toning it down a bit.
When it comes to video the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" is firmly in "average" territory, lasting 7 hours, 21 minutes with the same settings as the eBook test. This is more than enough to last you a short flight or commute, but if you decide to stream a bunch of video, you'll see your battery life drop much quicker depending on signal strength and file size.
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