Amazon Kindle Hearth HDX evaluate (eight.9-inch): a excessive-finish pill at a mid-vary worth
It is value noting simply how far Amazon has come because the early days of the Hearth line. With the first era, it was robust to see the pill as something greater than a content material-supply gadget designed to maintain customers locked into the Kindle ecosystem. It was an uninspired little bit of hardware that seemingly arrived off the identical manufacturing unit line because the BlackBerry PlayBook. Granted, Amazon’s new HDX tablets nonetheless aren’t the sexiest units round, however the firm’s taken nice pains to make sure they’re a few of the greatest. Meaning a stellar display, some zippy internals and a slimmed-down physique. Beginning at $379 for the eight.9-inch mannequin, the worth has come alongside for the journey as nicely. It is hardly costly, however we have lengthy since stopped utilizing the phrase “finances” to explain it.
Nonetheless, Amazon’s managed to maintain pricing down because of its content material-centric enterprise mannequin, which assumes you will proceed shopping for stuff lengthy after you open the field. This comes with some drawbacks, in fact — specifically, an ecosystem that is much more closed-off than common Android can be. However so long as you are caught with Hearth OS, the corporate’s going to do what it could to offer the perfect expertise potential with the addition of some compelling options. Does all that add as much as a very aggressive system? Or has Amazon strayed too removed from its price range roots?
Kindle HDX (eight.9-inch)
- Nice display
- Robust efficiency
- Mayday tech help and different useful software program options
- No Google Play entry
- $eighty costlier than its predecessor
The newest Hearth pill has some prime-of-the-line specs and good software program enhancements, however Amazon’s closed-off ecosystem will proceed to be a sore spot for consumers preferring common Android.
Launched the identical day because the 7-inch mannequin, the Kindle Hearth HDX eight.9 is in some ways a scaled-up model of its smaller sibling. Each have slimmed down noticeably from final yr’s HD collection. In reality, the HDX has shed some bulk throughout, right down to 9.1 x 6.2 x zero.31 inches from 9.forty five x 6.5 x zero.35 on final yr’s mannequin. To not point out, it is come a great distance because the first-gen Hearth got here out. Additionally, at thirteen.2 ounces, it even manages to be zero.7 ounce lighter than final yr’s 7-inch model.
The rear of the eight.9 is almost similar to the 7-inch mannequin, which is to say it is principally customary out of a pleasing gentle-contact materials. As soon as once more, too, that rear cowl is house to an enormous, shiny Amazon “A to Z” emblem. As with the remainder of the Hearth line, the corporate’s gotten a bit extra aggressive with branding. However hey, what do you anticipate? Sneaking promoting onto issues is what Amazon does greatest. And apart from, we strongly advocate you decide up a case for the factor, so you will possible have that emblem coated more often than not anyway.
The matte rear slopes a bit on all sides, making the pill a bit extra snug to carry. On the fitting aspect, you will discover a huge energy button, with a quantity rocker over on the left. The buttons sit simply above the place your palms will possible cradle the pill, which makes it straightforward to regulate the sound with out taking your arms off the system. And regardless of the proximity to my arms once I was holding it, I by no means discovered myself by chance turning off the system. The bodily buttons are additionally greater this time round, which we think about many patrons will see as a welcome enchancment. Alongside the highest of the rear aspect is a shiny strip that homes two rear-dealing with speaker grilles. Additionally, in contrast to the 7-inch model, it makes room for an eight-megapixel digital camera and flash.
The Hearth is simply thick sufficient to accommodate the headphone jack on the fitting aspect and the micro-USB charging port on the left. Up prime, you will discover these twin-mic holes, which can come in useful for the Mayday tech help function we’ll inform you about in a bit. As soon as once more, there is no HDMI-out socket right here; Amazon clearly needs you to make use of its Second Display know-how to observe movies in your TV, retaining you additional locked into its content material retailer. Nonetheless, the addition of an HDMI port would have been one other good method of distinguishing the upper-finish eight.9-inch mannequin from the smaller model. Like final time, there is no microSD slot on board; Amazon has all the time argued that folks ought to use cloud storage as an alternative (and in addition to, it is by no means been a very huge fan of aspect-loading, both).Digital camera
It took Amazon three generations to convey a rear-dealing with digital camera to the Hearth line. Even now, solely the bigger mannequin has one. And all in all, it is a fairly normal digital camera for a pill like this: eight-megapixel stills and 1080p video (the webcam on the entrance does 720p). After getting over the inherent awkwardness of capturing pictures on a 9-inch pill, we discovered that the digital camera performs fairly nicely. Colours look good within the daylight, although they begin to seem washed in additional overcast circumstances. Issues have been a bit extra uneven beneath the tough lighting of the Engadget newsroom, which forged a reddish tinge over lots of our pattern photographs.
Sadly, there’s not rather a lot the software program can do to assist. As rear cameras symbolize a brand new space of focus for Amazon, the constructed-in app could be very a lot in want of some TLC. Performance is usually restricted to toggling between video and stills, turning the flash on and off and switching between the entrance and rear cameras. It’s also possible to faucet to focus, as you’ll be able to on many different cellular units. As soon as you’ve got taken a photograph, you’ll be able to share it by way of e mail, Fb and Twitter from inside the app. In settings, you’ll be able to flip HDR on and off and flip to panorama mode. That final mode does an honest sufficient job stitching photographs collectively, however it’s robust to take a panorama that is not no less than slightly blurry. Additionally, the power to regulate issues like white stability from inside the app would have been good.Internals
Positive Amazon’s an enormous believer within the cloud, nevertheless it’s nonetheless supplying you with a selection of inner storage choices: 16GB ($379), 32GB ($429) and 64GB ($479). As ever, these tiers embrace Particular Gives. Should you do not need to be bothered by a daily stream of promoting, you will have so as to add $25 to every of the above costs. And, hey, when you’re tacking on extras, why not pony up for 4G, which now you can get on each Verizon and AT&T? That’ll be one other $one hundred, bringing the worth of the very best-finish unit to $594. For an additional $10 a month, you possibly can add your 4G Kindle Hearth HDX to your AT&T Cellular Share or Verizon’s Share The whole lot plan.
The eight.9-inch HDX is powered by the identical processor contained in the 7-inch model — however that is not a nasty factor. The quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor is an enormous step up from final yr’s twin-core 1.5GHz providing, and is among the greatest chips you will discover in any cellular gadget proper now. There’s additionally 2GB of RAM inside to assist issues alongside. Amazon’s given the graphics efficiency a lift as nicely with the addition of a “console-high quality” Adreno 330 GPU, promising 4 occasions the efficiency of its predecessor. You are not getting a PlayStation four right here, in fact, nevertheless it’s apparent Amazon is taking pill gaming extra critically than it used to.Show and audio
Amazon will get factors for shifting the Hearth’s audio system up towards the highest. To offer you some context, the location on the HD all the time appeared a bit foolish. Amazon needed to know that as customers held the pill, muffled sound was just about a certainty. As with the final era, Amazon’s leveraging Dolby audio for its stereo audio system. Whereas they get loud, you are greatest off counting on an exterior speaker when potential; at most quantity, you lose audio constancy fairly shortly. They will do for watching fast movies, definitely, however in the event you plan on listening to numerous music, some additional audio gear is perhaps so as.
Whereas the audio system really feel like one thing of an afterthought, Amazon is clearly waging a battle on the show entrance. The corporate retains upping its recreation, and certainly, the display right here dazzles, with 2,560 x 1,600 decision and a pixel density of 339 pixels per inch. That is an enormous bounce up from the HD eight.9’s 1,920 x 1,200 show, to not point out the brand new HDX 7-inch pill, which has a 1,920 x 1,200 display. It is even sufficient to make the iPad Air’s 2,048 x 1,536 decision (264 ppi) appear modest. It is merely a stunning factor to behold, making film watching a downright pleasure. Heck, it even managed to make Sharknado look fairly good, which is not any small feat. All in all, pictures are sharp, the extent of element is spectacular and the colours are vibrant.
The corporate additionally guarantees you’ll be able to simply use the gadget outdoor, because of dynamic picture distinction, which adjusts the distinction (fairly than simply brightness) of every pixel, based mostly on the sunshine hitting the digital camera’s sensor. Whereas the function usually works as marketed, the extremely reflective show nonetheless guidelines the pill out for poolside use. As ever, that is why you may purchase one in every of Amazon’s E Ink e-readers as an alternative.Efficiency
It isn’t simply the exteriors of the HDX tablets that look the identical; the internals are additionally remarkably comparable. And that is an excellent factor. Inside, you will discover a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 330 GPU that is aimed toward serving to the corporate make a play within the increasing world of pill gaming. The result’s greater than sufficient energy for absolutely anything you are more likely to do with the Hearth. The carousel transfer breezily and apps load in a snap. The pill additionally carried out admirably once we took Gameloft’s Asphalt eight: Airborne for a spin, dealing with the excessive-velocity motion with panache. In fact, till extra builders view Hearth OS as a worthy platform, gaming will not actually be a promoting level. Nonetheless, the horsepower beneath the hood is certainly a step in the correct course.
Net pages load shortly, thanks in no small half to the constructed-in Silk browser, which does the heavy lifting with the assistance of Amazon’s large server farm. We ran SunSpider within the browser and scored a strong 581.7ms (decrease numbers are higher on this check). It isn’t as spectacular because the iPad Air’s 388ms, and even the smaller HDX’s 553.7ms, however it handily beats the Samsung Galaxy Tab three eight.zero’s 798ms. We have been additionally capable of run Quadrant this time (because of Amazon’s ever-increasing app choice). The HDX racked up a strong 19,675, simply edging out the 7-inch’s 19,655. Benchmarking software program continues to be pretty restricted right here, however even after utilizing the pill as we usually would, we will confidently say that Amazon now has two highly effective new slates on its arms.
As for battery life, Amazon charges the eight.9-inch HDX at as much as 12 hours of use with WiFi on. We truly obtained round 15 hours of video playback, however that was with the brightness set decrease than we usually do (that may be the 50 % mark).Software program
Right here, as ever, is the rub. Nearly as good as Amazon is getting at making pill hardware (and it is getting fairly good certainly), the corporate’s strategy to software program continues to be a polarizing one. Amazon’s enterprise mannequin, in any case, revolves round a closed-off model of Android that retains customers locked into its content material choices. The perfect we will hope for, actually, is that the corporate does probably the most it could inside that system. Fortunately, the corporate’s made some progress on that entrance, starting with truly giving its software program a reputation: Hearth OS. In fact, we will quibble all day about whether or not it is truthful to refer to what’s primarily an excellent closely skinned model of Jelly Bean as its personal working system, however let’s concentrate on the modifications and depart that dialog to the feedback part, we could?
At a look, the working system is a lifeless ringer for its predecessor (for our functions, we’ll simply discuss with it as “Hearth OS 2.zero”). The format of the house web page betrays Amazon’s clear intent for the system, serving up content material in a big carousel within the middle. This is the place your apps, films, books, et cetera stay. Above that is yet one more gateway to content material: a toolbar that includes classes like video games, apps, books, music and movies. Click on on a type of, and you may take a look at what you’ve got picked up by way of Amazon, damaged up into your on-system and in-cloud choices. Need to obtain one thing you’ve got bought from the cloud onto the pill? You are able to do that with a faucet.
There’s, nevertheless, a key distinction on the house display. A swipe up reveals a extra conventional grid-type icon format. Amazon has made minor concessions to critics who took concern with its closely skinned working system; what we’ve got right here provides one thing a bit extra acquainted to customers making the bounce to a Hearth pill from a daily Android gadget. Swipe from the best whereas in an app, and you will see one other river of content material, although this time it is simply gadgets you’ve got used lately. Obtained it? Amazon needs to make it very clear that you simply’re by no means too removed from content material, content material, content material.
And, in fact, Play Retailer entry is a no-go, but once more. Openness, in any case, has by no means actually been part of Amazon’s recreation plan with the Hearth line. The corporate sells you a tool kind of at value and also you get locked into Amazon’s app and content material shops. That is the deal. For informal customers, such a closed system will not make a lot distinction in day-to-day use. In any case, Amazon’s been making an enormous push to convey probably the most-used apps to its ecosystem, and the choice solely will get higher because the Hearth’s reputation will increase. The corporate’s additionally making an enormous developer push by easing the porting course of from Android and providing help for HTML5 customers. For should you’re accustomed to having unfettered entry to Google’s retailer, this will likely proceed to be a dealbreaker.Mayday
What is the killer app for a tool focused at informal customers? How about constructed-in video tech help? When you’ve been contemplating shopping for the Hearth for a beloved one, however do not need to be on the telephone in any respect hours, strolling them via the finer factors of adjusting display brightness, there’s Mayday. You will discover this function filed away in Fast Settings, together with display locking, brightness, wi-fi and Quiet Time, which turns off notifications and different distractions once you want it. All are accessible by way of a fast swipe down on the house display; you will possible solely should stroll your un-tech-savvy liked one via the method three, 4 occasions, tops.
The service is out there 24/7, providing an actual, reside human being who can present you options, troubleshoot and even advocate apps. Amazon’s leveraging its present customer support employees, with the aim of offering help in lower than 15 seconds. Certainly, in our checks, we acquired responses properly inside the projected time. It is an formidable aim, to make certain, and one which the corporate acknowledges will probably be put to the check on Christmas Day, as new Kindle house owners will search buyer help (and perhaps simply get a kick out of seeing a floating speaking head on the display).
Relaxation assured, nevertheless, when you can see them, they can not see you, so you will get your gadget calibrated with out having to place your pants again on. The help employees can take management of your gadget and draw sports activities broadcast-type circles and arrows to assist stroll you thru on-display options. If it’s worthwhile to deal with one thing delicate like getting into a password, they will freeze their finish.
We tried the function a number of occasions in our arms-on and critiques of the 2 new Kindle tablets, and have discovered Amazon’s employees useful and chipper. Personally, I am within the behavior of troubleshooting issues alone till they’re fastened or past restore, so I am unsure I might ever use Mayday — at the least not after the novelty wore off. However then, I am not the audience right here. There’s loads of attraction in a function you possibly can present somebody when the system first comes out of the field after which sit again and watch the gadget stroll your beloved via points. In fact, we’re assuming they will flip it on, and that they will get on-line. However hey, nothing’s good. Perhaps within the HDX 2?Second Display
This function, sadly, continues to be not prepared for prime time. Together with the a lot-ballyhooed Goodreads integration, we’re nonetheless ready for a software program replace. In concept, nevertheless, there’s so much to love. Very similar to the PlayStation app and Microsoft SmartGlass, Second Display is an try and make the perfect of our brief consideration spans. Amazon is aware of in addition to anybody that we spend a lot of our time sitting in entrance of the TV utilizing our tablets, so why not supply up complementary contextual content material as you are watching video? The function allows you to “fling” video to your TV, choosing up the video stream the place you left it in your pill. It really works by pulling the video from the cloud onto your Samsung Sensible TV or PlayStation three/four. Since that content material is being pulled in from the cloud, you do not have to fret about utilizing your pill’s processing energy.
As soon as that content material is flung, you’ll be able to go about what you are promoting, checking e-mail or enjoying a recreation. Or, you’ll be able to comply with together with the video utilizing X-Ray, which can monopolize the complete pill display. From there, you’ll be able to view IMDb information concerning the actors on display and take a look at new X-Ray options like songs and trivia. We have but to attempt it out in its ultimate version, however in early arms-on testing, we have been impressed. It takes a number of seconds to buffer, positive, however it’s quite a bit higher than trying to comply with each the video and X-Ray info on the identical pill display. For energy customers, wired video-out would have been a pleasant choice, however once more, it is one thing most clients doubtless will not miss.And so on.
Talking of options that are not fairly prepared for prime time, we’re nonetheless ready on Goodreads to lastly roll out as a part of a Hearth OS three.1 replace coming someday this month (and when it does, please no feedback on all of the WWII books I have been studying). When it arrives, it’s going to bolster Hearth OS’s pretty restricted social efforts, letting you write critiques, share excerpts, hold monitor of what your mates are studying and get a lot better tailor-made evaluations, which have up to now been unimpressive in Amazon’s e-e-book world. Sharing by way of Fb and Twitter has been added to quite a lot of apps, nevertheless, so hopefully that’ll tide you over for the subsequent couple of weeks.
X-Ray’s gotten a bit extra love, too. The corporate’s increasing the service to incorporate music, bringing scrolling lyrics as you take heed to songs bought via Amazon’s retailer. Once I checked the function out for my assessment of the 7-inch HDX, I had a heck of a time discovering albums in my library that utilized X-Ray. Issues have gotten higher, although there undoubtedly nonetheless appear to be extra data with out lyrics in the meanwhile, and till we will rap alongside to Killer Mike within the privateness of our personal bedrooms, what is the level, actually? Unusually, there are even some data that solely have one or two songs with included lyrics. Take “The Man Who Bought the World” by David Bowie (who we identify-checked within the final evaluate). The primary monitor has lyrics, however you are by yourself for the remaining. Amazon made an enormous deal about going by means of the right routes for the lyrics (versus simply crowdsourcing them), which more than likely has one thing to do with the delay.
Hearth OS three.zero additionally sees an elevated give attention to enterprise usability, a nod to the ever-increasing group of customers who deliver their very own units to work. Among the many modifications, fortunately, is threaded messaging in Amazon’s e mail shopper. Seeing as how there is no Gmail providing in Amazon’s app retailer, that is a function that may possible influence many, many customers. The brand new Fires additionally help wi-fi printers for paperwork; hardware knowledge encryption; a local VPN shopper; and help for enterprise options like Citrix.
On the flip aspect, the brand new tablets have additionally gotten a bit extra child-pleasant — or, maybe, a bit friendlier for customers with youngsters. FreeTime lets mother and father higher monitor their youngsters’ time with the system, with the choice to restrict utilization to particular apps and content material. Mother and father can even set every day cut-off dates on a content material-by-content material foundation. That approach youngsters can learn all they need, for instance, however solely watch as much as half-hour of video per day. It’s going to hardly be a make-or-break function for many consumers, however let’s face it: In the event you’ve acquired youngsters at residence, there is a fairly good probability they are going to be spending time together with your units.Equipment
Keep in mind how we strongly inspired you to select up the Origami cowl on your HDX once we reviewed the 7-inch model of the HDX? Yeah, properly, that hasn’t modified. In truth, the eight.9-inch model makes the Origami case appear much more compelling. Earlier than we get into that, although, this is a recap. The duvet snaps magnetically onto the rear of the HDX, providing a tough protecting shell with constructed-in safety for these huge energy and quantity buttons. There’s additionally a little bit of give on the highest, so the rear-dealing with audio system aren’t absolutely muffled if you’ve obtained it on — although, as you may anticipate, you are still going to lose a little bit of sound constancy there. On the entrance is a flap that attaches magnetically to the bezel, turning the show on and off as you flip it. On the again of the flap is a velvety floor to make sure that the case does not do extra hurt than good.
The actual trick, nevertheless, is within the creases on the flap. Fold them up and the duvet magnetically attaches to itself, making a stand for the HDX that can be utilized in each panorama and portrait modes. It is a good comfort for these occasions when you do not have one other display to fling your films to. Cooler nonetheless is the added digital camera performance for the eight.9. Flip the flap all the best way round and slide the pill up, and it’ll mechanically go into digital camera mode, even when the Hearth’s lock display is on. It might take you one or two photographs to get used to this performance (since the entire thing is held collectively by magnets), however as soon as you’ve got carried out it a pair occasions, it is easy to take a fast snap.The competitors
So, how does the HDX stack up? Beginning at $379, it isn’t the most cost effective pill in its class by any stretch — neither is it the priciest. It is available in $20 underneath the iPad mini with Retina show, providing a a lot sharper display (2,560 x 1,600 at 339 ppi) versus Apple’s 2,048 x 1,536. As for Android, the HDX is priced $eighty above Samsung’s Galaxy Tab three eight.zero, however that is sensible, given the higher specs: Samsung’s pill sports activities a decrease-res 1,280 x 800 show and runs off a 1.5GHz twin-core Samsung Exynos four processor. LG’s G Pad eight.three, in the meantime, is available in at $350, bringing with it a 1,920 x 1,200 show and a 1.7GHz quad-core chip. The G Pad has a lesser Snapdragon 600 processor, which stuttered a bit in our exams, although some may recognize that it runs full Android.
The Hearth HDX is definitely the priciest Hearth pill but, however contemplating the hardware Amazon’s providing, it greater than justifies the fee. In fact, it is value restating that the Hearth does not supply Google Play entry, however for mainstream customers, which may not be a dealbreaker. And hey, for patrons like that, the addition of options like Mayday and Second Display might truly make the tradeoff value it.Wrap-up
The Hearth line simply retains getting higher. Simply because the HD marked an enormous enchancment over the primary era, the HDX brings various premium options that places Amazon’s choices on par with a few of the greatest tablets. The display is nice; processing energy has been bumped up significantly; there’s lastly a rear-dealing with digital camera; and the hardware is markedly slimmer. On the software program aspect, additions like Mayday tech help and Second Display supply a compelling consumer expertise. That stated, the restrictions of Hearth OS versus common Android will virtually definitely proceed to dissuade some consumers from taking the plunge.
As for pricing, we will consider costlier tablets, together with the $499 iPad Air and $399 Galaxy Word eight.zero. However with an $eighty worth hike over its predecessor, the excessive-finish part of the Hearth line has moved nicely past the finances class that first outlined it. And on the finish of the day, the $one hundred fifty worth improve from the 7-inch model does not convey that many further options. Priced anyplace from $379 to only beneath $600, it is a reasonably large splurge for a vacation present, however it’s an inexpensive sum to ask for a pill that hardly cuts any corners.
Edgar Alvarez and Daniel Orren contributed to this assessment.
Tags: amazon, amazon kindle hearth hdx, AmazonKindleFireHdx, hearth os, FireOs, kindle, kindle hearth hdx, Kindle Hearth HDX eight.9-inch, KindleFireHdx, KindleFireHdx8.9-inch, evaluate, video
- Key specs
- <a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/amazon/kindle/hearth/hdx-7-inch/” title=”Amazon Kindle Hearth HDX 7-inch evaluations” goal=”_blank”> Evaluations • 5 </a>
- Type issue Pill
- Working system Android
- Display measurement 7 inches
- Storage sort Inner storage (sixteen GB, Flash)
- Most battery life As much as eleven hours
- Dimensions 7.three x 5 x zero.35 in
- Weight 10.7 oz
- Launched 2013-10-18
<a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/amazon/hearth/hdx-eight-9-2nd-gen/”> Amazon Hearth HDX eight.9 2nd-gen </a>