Amazon is all set to launch the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Fire HD in India tomorrow. Both devices have done pretty well in terms of sales and customer satisfaction and it looks like Amazon is hoping to create the same sort of buzz here as well. Today we’ll be looking at the Fire HD 8.9, Amazon’s first full-blown tablet based on a very heavily customised version of Android. Rather than just using a skin over the stock OS, like most do, Amazon has built a custom OS to deliver a different and, hopefully, better experience. This review will scrutinise the Fire HD 8.9 to see what is different in this tablet as compared to the rest of the Android-based tablets around.
Design and build
The Fire HD has a strong plastic chassis with an all matte-finish exterior. The front is a large multi-touch LCD display panel with just a front camera that is placed in the centre and on the top when the tablet is held in landscape position. The sides are flattened and the corners are rounded. The rear panel has a rubberised surface which is slightly slip-resistant and helps with a better grip.
Well crafted with a comfortable design
The rear panel also sports two stereo Dolby speakers on each side of the tablet. The frame is built firm and cannot be opened for any accessory or expansions. What we mean here is that there are absolutely no slots for SIM cards or memory cards for storage expansion. There are only two interfaces or ports available at the bottom of the Fire HD—one for the PC, which is a microUSB interface for charging and connecting the tablet to a PC for data transfers, and the other is a microHDMI video output. In between both the ports, there is a small microphone provided for voice chats and Internet calls. On the right side is a power/standby switch, a volume rocker and a 3.5 mm jack for headphones. The tablet measures 239 x 163 x 9 mm and weighs about 567 grams. The Fire HD is definitely on the heavier side and you will need both hands to support it when using it.
The speaker port at the back
The rubberised finish offers very good grip
The display is a large 8.9-inch capacitive 10-point multi-touch IPS LCD panel sporting a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. Amazon claims this to be a retina quality display as it has a pixel density of 254 ppi as compared to the iPad third generation, which has a pixel density of 264 ppi. The display panel featured has the technology similar to the 7-inch Fire HD version, which helps reduce glare and improves colour saturation when viewed from any angle. This is done by reducing the gap between the main display panel and the touch sensor and laminating them both into a single layer of glass. This also makes the display easier to view even in overhead light. The IPS panel also features an Advanced True Wide polarising filter, which is applied directly to the LCD panel and helps reduce display viewing angle problems even at extreme angles.
The Amazon app store
The Kindle is available in two variants—16GB and 32GB. The one we received was a 16GB version and the available storage for the user stands at 12.7GB, while the 32GB version gives you free storage of around 27.1GB. Additionally, once you register the tablet with Amazon, you get around 5GB of cloud storage for free; you can purchase even up to 1TB of cloud storage. Sadly, there are no expansion slots to add/install a microSD card and get additional storage. The tablet also does not feature USB OTG options, wherein one can connect a USB pen drive for additional data expansion. The only option you might have is by using a wireless storage or a network share while at home or office. Using a personal NAS on the web could also help.