Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G LTE Wireless
Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G LTE Wireless is the newest and most advanced of the Kindle series.Visit Website
As there appears to be mixed reviews of the 8.9′ Fires – ones with 4G access and those without – to clarify, this review is for the 8.9″ tablet with the 4G connectivity option.
In comparing this larger HD Fire to the “regular” HD Fire, this one wins hands down. Why? Despite what some people may say, size matters and the display of game apps and video is clearly superior. The added functionality of 4G access for just $50 for the year, which doesn’t include the $10 app gift card Amazon gives you for signing up, is one heck of a money saver compared to the same charges AT&T has for an iPad user. Granted, 250 MB is a lot less than 2GB, but with WiFi just about everywhere that isn’t a constraint for my uses.
To get the iPad comparison out of the way, I put this tablet side-by-side to my iPad 2 I use for work. Downloads were slightly faster and the video screen resolution and the colors were more vibrant on the Fire vs. the iPad 2.
Screen Display / Video Playback:
With the larger HD screen, if playing video is important to you this is the version of the Fire to get as the screen display is fairly impressive with sharp and crisp colors. The display on this HD Fire was one heck of a lot better in terms of sharpness than last year’s model and even this year’s smaller HD model.
Amazon also added a cool feature on this one with the HDMI micro connection port. I have an HDMI micro plug and was able to hook this up to the big screen to watch an episode of the science fiction series Defying Gravity. It played back great smoothly with no problems.
My standard test for trying out new gadgets is to see how fast they run side-by-side with a known piece of equipment doing the same test at the best place of Wi-Fi in my house and the worst place where it drags. In this comparison, I had this 8.9″ version of the Fire sitting next to the “smaller” HD version of the Fire, my Motorola RAZR smartphone, my iPad 2 (yes, the Kindle guy uses an iPad for work), and the new 7″ Fire all just using a Wi-Fi connection vs. cellular connectivity..
My website test is to hit the mobile websites of FoxNews, CNN, my personalized Yahoo page, Google, and the Houston Chronicle. The ones that were usually slow on the other devices and were still slow but faster than the other devices (Houston Chronicle and CNN), and for the other sites I couldn’t tell a difference in speed at the location closest to my router. When I went to the slowest / worst reception location of my house, the speed did have a noticeable difference in the other devices as this one was slightly faster but for a casual surfer it is not noticeable nor does it hang.
Email setup was very easy with the included email app for my main Google account – it took about a minute to input my email address and password information and I was good to go: sending and receiving emails was a snap, and when I sent a test message with pictures they displayed crisply. I will tell you I primarily us an existing app called Enhanced Email that I received here on the Amazon app store for free vs. what came as standard with the Fire for daily use, and it was easy to use – actually better due to the larger screen size – with this version of the Fire. For those of you asking yourself why am I using the Enhanced Email program, the simple answer is like many of you I have more than one email account: you can quickly switch back and forth on the accounts with the tool. The lazy person in me appreciates that as I don’t like getting out of the lazy chair once I’m settled in!
I do play a lot of games, but they aren’t the heavy action / interactive games many of the kids play today. For my test, I tried out several rounds of Words with Friends and a Majong derivative. The display was crisp and the tablet was very responsive as it interacted over the WiFi network of my home to the game server.
Sound / Music Playback
Different than last year’s model and the $159 this year’s model, the two speakers are located in the back of the Kindle Fire in two not-noticeable ports. My test of this feature was cranking up Van Halen’s Panama to maximum volume (I wanted to see if it could really play the guitar licks), and I would alternate covering one speaker up over the other: you have true stereo sound with no degradation of the sound that makes you think you are about to blow the speaker. However, the sound is not very crisp (the $159 Fire sounds better to me) as the sound is going away from you with the speakers being in the back. With a cover on the Fire to protect it, that can be a problem. It’s going to take a little bit of getting used to having the volume controls at the top of the device.
Reading a book was enjoyable and easy on the eyes with the larger screen: I appreciate being able to changing the default font to something else in addition to increasing the font size so I don’t have to wear my glasses. Turning pages is pretty darn easy – just tap the side of the screen to go to the next page or back a page, or you can swipe your finger across the screen to do the same.
Bluetooth setup was very easy. I tested this with audio in my car as well as an external keyboard. From a music standpoint, there were no delays or skips with the connection, and it paired up in about 30 seconds; I hooked up a Motorola Bluetooth keyboard and started banging away with several emails. Just make sure you give it a device name so you can recognize it and be recognized.
Affordability vs. an iPad
Dollarwise, this version of the Fire whips the iPad when you stack up the annual cost of connectivity, 64Gb of memory, and the cellular (or not) models of the iPad. The iPad’s screen is slightly larger, but when I put it up against each other for the same things (web page, game app) I really couldn’t tell that much of a difference.
Overall, if you are looking for a larger tablet this one wins hands down. With the full-features included with this model – especially the 4G connection – I believe this will be my go-to device, and I will no longer be carrying my e-Ink Kindle in addition to my iPad every day.