Long-term review of Prime/KFHD 8.9" (will be updated)General

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  1. sergey

    sergey Well-Known Member

    Hi everybody!

    This thread will be a long-term report to see what happens when a Android tablet user (I own a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, rooted with Android 4.1) dives into the world of Amazon. I also own a Galaxy S3 as my phone. I'll be updating this as I go along.

    First off, why pick the AFHD when the Nexus 10 is clearly the "better option"? I thought about that too. My knee-jerk reaction was to get a Nexus tablet- I mean it will get the OS updates first, it's the pure Android experience. How could anybody pick a locked down Amazon tablet over it?

    Well here are my reasons:
    - My "real" use of tablets- Honestly, I just watch youtube, netflix, now Amazon Prime, and surf the web. Google now, widgets, and all that was fun for a bit and I haven't used it since.
    - Overlapping functionality- my phone and my tablet can do a lot of the same things, so there is this feel that my tablet is just a bigger, wifi only version of my S3. So in my eyes buying a S3 and a Nexus 10 is like owning a small SUV and buying a bigger SUV as a second car. Where buying the AFHD coupled with my S3 is like buying a sportscar as the second car. The AFHD is focused on one thing: content consumption.
    - I really won't miss the Android experience- I have a S3 I can play with.
    - Future-proofed- the AFHD is so focused in its functionality, future upgrades to Android or the hardware doesn't really matter. Who cares about lock screen widgets, google now, google maps? Give me more content. And if I do want those new features- I'll just look to my phone. Problem solved.
    - Price- the 32GB is cheaper than the 16GB Nexus 10
    - You can sideload apps and root this as well



    At first glance, the 8.9" KFHD 32GB seems like a steal for $249 vs. the Nexus 10 32GB for $499. That's a $250 difference. But there are some hidden fees- 1) You have to pay for the AC adaptor (the KFHD comes with a cord that you can plug into your computer to charge) that is $19.99, but if you bundle it when you buy your Kindle you can get it for $9.99. Then if you want to remove the ads, it's another $15

    I bought the ac adaptor but kept the ads to see what it was like.

    The difference now withers down to $225. But that is still a significant difference. Let me put it to you like this: when your Nexus 10 owning friends are ripping on you for getting the 8.9" KFHD because its not the pure Android experience, you can simply show them the 2nd tablet you just bought- the $199 16GB Nexus 7.

    Another advantage of the 8.9" KFHD 32GB is is that it comes with LTE for $499 with 250MB a month for a year for only $50 from AT&T, it comes with 20GB more cloud storage and a $10 Appstore credit. The question is what happens after that year?

    So in terms of pricing, you can't beat the KFHD.

    Build Quality
    It has a premium feel to it and I like the design. It's well built overall. It has a heft to it and doesn't feel ultra-light. It's not heavy and I'm OK with the weight. The physical buttons are very flush with the body and initially I thought I got the hang of it, but I've been fumbling with some of the buttons. The trick is to feel for the volume rocker which has a small bar of plastic jutting out. One section of the back gets warm with use. Overall it is a great bit of hardware.

    This by far is the most impressive feature considering this is a tablet. I'm no audiophile, but to my very average ears, it sounds great.

    The display is sharp and bright, images appear way better than my tab. There is no reason why anybody at this point should buy any tablet without a high-resolution display. Comparing my tab and the KFHD, the white background when surfing the web has a slightly yellow hue where as the tab has a purple/blue hue. Reading on it is fine- I have no issues with it.

    It's only got a front facing camera but no default app for it. Huh? They say it's for Skype… OK.

    I opted to save $15 and go with the ads, which are very prominent. It is lock screen and as one review said- it makes you feel like this is not your own personal tablet. But I got over it. Other than that, under everything in the carousel there is another row of amazon recommendations that you can buy from them- I don't see it as annoying because some of the recommendations are interesting.

    Silk Browser
    It works. No flash, but you can access youtube videos. Generally, it sucks because of 3 things: 1) Stability 2) Speed 3) Load issues. Silk crashes often- usually I will get a pop-up window saying my active tab crashed and it will restore it. So the whole browser won't crash, just a tab. Speed- it does not feel as fast as my Samsung android devices. It feels sluggish. I've tried accessing the same websites on the KFHD (Dolphin & Silk) and my tab (Dolphin) to see which one was faster- there were times where the tab was faster by like 10-20sec. Then other times the KFHD was as fast or slightly faster than the tab. At this point, these are minor annoyances, but OK, I can be hopeful for an update.

    And now for the dealbreaker- loading issues. Scrolling through a blog with several posts, you except now that once the browser loads the website, you can scroll down and not have to wait for the content to load up as you scroll down. Not with Silk. Once you start scrolling down, you'll see nothing but white and then a second later the rest of the content will load.

    Basically, Silk sucks and I am not impressed. Amazon probably wants to develop their own browser so they can collect more data about you and offer you more stuff to buy from there. I get it. But Silk sucks. Fork off Chrome, "borrow" Opera, do something. Improve this now.

    But I sideloaded Dolphin and all is well with the world. So I did all this whining for nothing.

    It's stable- no horrendous crashes but it can be a bit sluggish at times. Not much to say except that it is locked down. If you think Apple is locked down and has no customization options... well let's put it this way- if Amazon ever locks down sideloading apps, we'll have an Android iPad. I can get my google calendar and gmail on it using the default apps. It's simple. The keyboard displays some lag at times. Not horrible, but not smooth either. You can swipe/type on it.

    Amazon Prime
    Obviously this goes hand in hand with the KFHD.

    The biggest problem I have with this is that there are two black bars when watching a video. Really? We can't get rid of that? Or lessen the size of the black bars? I have Netflix and Prime now and feel like a lot of content overlaps- I'm currently undergoing a trial evaluation to see if I can dump Netflix. Other than that, it works as advertised.

    You can subscribe directly through Kindle and some magazines have apps that you can download as apps. I haven't gotten any magazines yet, but looking around- I love the fact that you can unsubscribe as easily as you can subscribe- apparently you can just go to your account settings and unsubscribe. Great. The one big annoyance is that if you want the New York Times using a Stock Kindle and stock apps, you have to pay $19.99 for the "Kindle edition". Doesn't matter if you can access the app or website. So in effect you have to pay twice. Lame.

    It's like the Kindle app. Nuff said. It works perfectly. You can rent books which is great- I have 2 books at $10 a piece that I can rent for free. The drawback to renting books is that there is no great way to sift through the content- Amazon just vomits all the free books at you and you can only sort by the usual- price, rating, etc. You can't search the free books for a specific title, author.

    If you don't subscribe to Netflix or Hulu Plus and have no interest in it, then Prime is a killer deal- you'll make up the $80 fee through the free videos, books, and 2-day shipping. But if you have Netflix or Hulu Plus, I think the only way to make the $80 Prime fee worth it is to take advantage of the books and the 2-day shipping. So if you are an avid reader and/or shopper- you can make Prime worth it even if you subscribe to another video service.

    App Store
    It's a shadow of Google Play. You can get around this by sideloading apps or rooting. Hulu Plus, Netflix are available as well as some games, again nothing fantastic

    So is this something for you to get?
    It depends on who you are.

    If you want a pure Android experience, which means you want to tinker with your tablets and do all kinds of customization stuff, run SNES emulators, etc and do not want to see it any other way, then pass on the KFHD. You'll find the KFHD is locked down. I'd say less than an iPad, but not by much. I suspect a few people out here will see this as a challenge and try the road less traveled- i.e. root, try to make the Kindle (which is cheap) a budget Android tablet.

    The other end of the user spectrum are the moms and dads- they don't care about customization, widgets, and think cyanogenmod is some drug school kids are taking. And on the surface, a KFHD looks like it would be a solid winner. But it's a gray area. The KFHD's functionality is so focused that you really can't get into trouble. But the app store is not as good as Google Play or iTunes. It's not as stable- the Silk browser is lousy and try explaining to granny about how to sideload apps? Yeah, no…

    And for people who are on dumbphones, the KFHD is no good for them either- I'd recommend something full-featured with the real Android experience.

    So who's left? Who should look at this tablet?
    1) Amazon whores- all your content is from Amazon, including in the real world.

    2) Android users. Wait. What? Yup. People with Android phones should seriously take a look at this tablet. And seriously look at what they need/want out of a tablet. If you are just mainly into content consumption, seriously take a look at this. Since we already have a full-featured Android device, we already benefit from all the fun stuff Android has to offer. If you're gonna buy another device, why spend several hundred dollars on more of the same?

    It's a cheap tablet, it's future-proofed because the focus is laser like (who cares about lock screen widgets? I'm just reading books), and provides a totally different experience than the Android experience (which we already get on our phones). For me, I see the phone as the bleeding edge tech that I use every day and carry with me all the times. The tablet can relax. The KFHD provides a different enough experience with Amazon's content that it's interesting and something new. For me, I don't want to tinker with clockworkmod in bed. I just want to read some comics, surf the web, and watch some movies. If you just want to consume content, this is it.

    I've decided to keep the KFHD. I like the tablet. It's not perfect out of the box. I downloaded the weather channel and netflix from the Kindle app store. I sideloaded the following apps:
    - Youtube
    - NY Times
    - Dolphin Browser
    - ES File Browser
    - Uniqlo alarm clock- didn't work unfortunately.

    Now it's pretty much perfect- it's the ultimate slacker device.


    The most ironic thing about the Kindle is that the amazon shopping experience is buggy. Sometimes when I search for a magazine, a book , whatever, it won't return results or will say "an error occurred" multiple times. So here I am trying to use it for Amazon's true intended use- to spend more money with them and I'm running into issues. Here are a few examples:

    I tried downloading adobe reader from the amazon app store and in the middle of downloading it, I got an error message. I tried downloading it again but the Kindle stubbornly said it was already download- which it was not. And I checked the settings -> applications -> installed applications. Here again, sideloading saved the day.

    Another instance I bought a Kindle book. It didn't download but showed up on my carousel. As a non-working icon. A restart cured the trick. This never happened with my Kindle app on other devices.

    There are times where I can't get a prime video to play- I'll get the spinning orange circle, but the internet browser is working.

    The wifi was buggy but after the Kindle freaked out and I had to decontent/recontent the Kindle, it was back to business as usual.

    But despite all this, I love this tablet. It's great. I can see myself using this for quite some time. Maybe I won't be on the warpath to getting the latest and greatest for the time being.

    Wi-fi/buffering issues
    - There are times where youtube videos will buffer only 1/2, 3/4 of the video and then just stop. I can have issues with netflix as well. Strangely I never have problems with Prime- either it works or it doesn't (which happened once)
    - There are times where surfing the web is dial-up slow and often I need to refresh the page. This is with silk, dolphin, doesn't matter. Meanwhile I am flying through the internet on my laptop or cellphone.

    OS stability
    - Less stable than my Galaxy tab. One night the thing decided not to play any videos- no youtube, netflix, Prime. I reset it several times before learning deregistering/registering my Kindle could help things out. This worked. Fortunately everything is on the cloud, so there really is no backup issues. Assuming all your stuff is from Amazon.
    - Silk will crash the Kindle.
    - There are times where I will be trying to buy something from Amazon- a movie, a song, whatever and when I click on the movie link, it goes blank. That is horrible- you'd think they'd make the shopping experience as easy as pie.

    Silk browser
    - After the slow loading with Dolphin, I decided to try out Silk again. And the last time I tried it out, it's fast (but again, it only loads what you see- if you scroll down, it takes a second to load up the rest of the page). But it also crashes my Kindle. In about 15min of web browsing- no videos, nothing fancy, it managed to crash my Kindle twice. So away it goes until Amazon decides to update it.

    Battery life
    - I'd say this is on par with my old iPad or my galaxy tab 10.1. Which is a good thing.

    - For the most part it works fine. The auto spell checker is only a billion times better than the one on my Galaxy S3, but that's not saying much. One quirk I have is that often it will not register the first letter I type in dolphin only. So if i'm typing in "cnn.com", it is not uncommon for the Kindle to register "nn.com".

    Stock e-mail app
    - Not as good as gmail on Android. Here's why:
    1) If I get an email, no notifications
    2) There are a few times where I'll e-mail myself something and it will take forever for it to show up in my inbox.

    - I bought a Car & Driver subscription and it was pretty easy. The format works flawlessly. It's exactly like reading a book on a Kindle app.

    A nice touch was that Amazon e-mailed me an online guide to the KFHD. But today I get a email from Amazon selling the KFHD. I already bought one, is that not enough? I thought that was funny. Should be here tomorrow.

    Signed up for Amazon Prime.
    Bought the following:
    - Amazon Kindle Fire HD Wifi only 8.9" - $369 - AC adapter - $19.99 - Grand total of $33.84 with free 2 day shipping. My credit card rewards program notified me that I had a $345.15 credit I could use at Amazon, which I used.

    erisuser1 and El Presidente like this.
  2. txrose72

    txrose72 Well-Known Member

    The iPad 4 and the KFHD 8.9 have the same screen height and resolution. Of course the KFHD is a wide screen tablet so it's not as wide as the iPad but what device do we watch today isn't wide screen. Please do report on your opinion of this unique tablet which sounds like an excellent match for most users who prefer the larger format tablets.
  3. sergey

    sergey Well-Known Member

    I just got my Kindle today!

    I feel like it is a bit premature to post something I have only used for less than 1hr, but I'll give you my first impressions.

    - It is heavy, it feels heftier than my Galaxy tab 10.1 (will be refered here as the tab).
    - The volume rocker and power button are flush with the hardware, but I'm not whining about it like every other review- I don't see a problem with it.
    - It feels like a premium product, right up there with an iPad, better built than the tab
    - Overall I am happy with this. I like the design.

    - This by far is the most impressive feature considering this is a tablet. Will this beat your audiophile friend's $100,000 setup? No. But for a tablet this is excellent.

    - It is so much clearer than the tab
    - But I feel like the colors are off, the white background when surfing the web have a slightly yellow hue where as the tab has a purple/blue hue.

    - The start up screen has an ad, which is a bit odd, still getting used to it
    - Under everything in the carousel there is another row of amazon recommendations- I dont see it as annoying because some of the recommendations are interesting
    - So far it's not too bad- but having an ad on the lock screen is a bid odd.

    Silk Browser
    - It works, but scrolling through endgadget, it takes time for things to load up- i.e. you'll scroll down the first few posts, then you'll see nothing but white and then a second later the rest of the content will load.
    - Looks like I may have to sideload chrome, dolphin, whatever

    Amazon Prime
    - The biggest problem I have with this is that there are two black bars when watching a video. Really? We can't get rid of that? Or lessen the size of the black bars?

    Amazon content
    - The king. Can't beat it.
    - But it really is a pipe to everything amazon. That might be a turn off to some.

    - Works fine, but there are still two tiny black bars above and below. Kind of lame, but am OK with this.

    - Not much to say except that it is locked down. If you think Apple is locked down and has no customization options... wait until you use a Kindle.
    - I can get my google calendar and gmail on it. Gmail seems a bit slow...
    - The keyboard displays some lag at times. Not horrible, but not smooth either.

    Overall I like this a lot. This is shaping up to be a keeper. Except that the more I use it, the more I think that if you are an Android fanboy that embraces open source, customization, and freedom in your app store, well... this will not be the tablet for you.

    I'm gonna use it for a bit and then post a more detailed review up top.
  4. Jesslynh

    Jesslynh Well-Known Member

    Sergey I have a similar situation as you. I have a Samsung S3 and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9. I love the GTab, but like you, found myself using it mainly for content and surfing.

    So I got the Fire 8.9 wifi. I immediately rooted (scary! but it worked) it so that I would be able to get some games and a few apps from the Play store. Pre-root, I was able to get YouTube, SiriusXM, Dropbox and some magazine apps so if I didn't root, I probably would have been able to live with it.

    The only thing that really bugs me is the horrible, awful really ugly carousel on the Fire. I would prefer something like the Chameleon launcher and found that even when the launchers like Go and ADW work, they don't really work smoothly so I've stayed with the Amazon carousel.

    It is waaaay heavier than my GTab of the same size. The 8.9 Galaxy Tab was known for its exemplary hardware and light weight so that has been a bit getting used to. I got two cases, one of which is super lightweight and is working great so far. Amazon.com: Marware Lightweight MicroShell Folio Standing Case for Kindle Fire HD 8.9", Black: Kindle Store

    This is the hardest thing for me to get through. You really have to stop thinking of the Kindle as an Android tablet and think of it as an Amazon tablet if you are an Android user. If you can do that, I think you'll be okay. As Sergey mentioned there is some odd lag at times with the keyboard, but I'm sure that will get fixed in a future software update.

    This is a tablet designed to lead you to Amazon consumption. I have been a Prime customer since they 1st offered all the free year's subscription and love the addition of the Amazon VOD movies. They are stunning in HD on this tablet so I'm happy about that. I also have a Netflix and Hulu Plus membership even if I don't use Hulu that much.

    It is great for watching movies even though they do a horrible job when you upload your personal movies.

    After California taxes, this tablet costed around $410 and I think that if it doesn't work out, I will end up getting the Nexus 10. Right now I don't think I want to return it because having the Amazon content is working out nicely. You can watch Amazon content on non-Amazon Android devices, but it is quite awkward.

    All in all, this is a great tablet for 1st time tablet users and anyone invested in the Amazon ecosystem. Think of it as an Amazon rather than Android device and you'll be fine.
  5. sergey

    sergey Well-Known Member

    Were you able to transfer the youtube .apk from your galaxy tab to your kindle then using a file transfer?
  6. Jesslynh

    Jesslynh Well-Known Member

    Yes, I highly recommend Dropbox. Transfer that app to your device, then use it to upload all your other apps, docs and movies.
  7. sergey

    sergey Well-Known Member

    The stock browser was crashing on me, so after doing some research, I sideloaded my dolphin browser, youtube app, and an alarm clock from my galaxy tab 10.1. That was incredibly easy with ES fire browser. One caveat- it seems like that if you want to sign in, you may need another .apk file, but I don't sign in so that made it easy.
  8. Holydoc

    Holydoc Well-Known Member

    I second the recommendation of getting dropbox on your kindle first. The secret for me of getting apps on my Kindle Fire was to 1) backup the apps from my phone, 2) navigate to the backup directory of my phone and copy the backed up apps to dropbox, 3) open dropbox on the Kindle and click on the apps to install them.

    Easy, squeezy.
  9. Jesslynh

    Jesslynh Well-Known Member

    That is exactly correct.
  10. bill hansen

    bill hansen Member

    Holydoc - Doesn't this require rooting, and using Titanium Backup? I ask because I'm going to avoid rooting either the phone or the KF 8.9 if possible.
    (not actually a noob, but not technically proficient or comfortable with the dozens of new terms and little applets).
  11. bill hansen

    bill hansen Member

    This is to everyone who has contributed to this thread - thanks very much for the thread itself (special thanks to Sergey, who started it) and for the many observations specific to the KF 8.9. I've been looking for a thread like this for weeks now. I'll be sure to follow this one as it evolves.
  12. Holydoc

    Holydoc Well-Known Member


    I have never rooted my phone. Use a free app called "Astro File Manager". It has an option to backup your apps. Back them up. Go to the "Backup Directory" and find the backup. Copy the backup to your kindle.

    No problems. No Fuss. No rooting. No Titanium backup needed.

  13. Jesslynh

    Jesslynh Well-Known Member

    If you use Easy Installer (available in the amazon store), as soon as the download of the app is complete, it will install so you save yourself some clicks.
  14. Jesslynh

    Jesslynh Well-Known Member

    Review Addition: The Silk browser is horrible. I recommend Dolphine and/or Chrome. The Firefox browser did not work on my Fire.
  15. sergey

    sergey Well-Known Member

    Amen to that. I think most Fire HD users would agree on that after looking around on various forums, including Amazon's.
  16. erisuser1

    erisuser1 Well-Known Member

    Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread so far. Very informative.

    Curious to hear more reports (both successes and failures) from those that have rooted and added in Google Play Store / gapps - reports of success/failure of individual widely used apps. Especially commentary about Chrome or other browsers w/regard to stalls , FCs, crashes, etc. (in light of the Silk reviews) I'm on the fence about what type of tablet to buy right now, but I know (like the OP) that I'll use it mostly for web browsing and video and probably not much Amazon paid content.

    If it turns out that Amazon has diddled with the frameworks so much that widely-used apps that play nice on AOSP JB tablets don't work well for the KFHD8.9, then my interest in it as a rootable device sort of withers. (Seems like the gist of the OP's conclusions ran this way)

    Perhaps I have only two choices when it comes to trying to get longevity out of hardware (I'm thinking of my locked-up & vendor-abandoned GTV device right now); either

    (a) buy a closed device that the manufacturer is likely to support with refresh releases - e.g. Apple $$$$ (maybe Amazon too? What has their support/refresh history been like in the past with other Kindle models?)


    (b) buy a rootable Android device and indulge in a new lifestyle (that is, do your own upgrades, system integration, and testing with internet buddies. Rinse and repeat for every new release of hobby-ware :D ).

    Anyways, thanks & keep the commentary coming...

  17. Jesslynh

    Jesslynh Well-Known Member

    I'm rooted and am using a lot of content from the Play store. So far, very few apps haven't worked. Notably, Maps because the gps doesn't work and a game or two, plus pretty much any app that relies on the notification bar. Other than those, I'm happy enough to keep it--even coming from a previous Android tablet that I was happy with.
    erisuser1 likes this.
  18. Jesslynh

    Jesslynh Well-Known Member

    So far the Google apps that I use without errors: Google+, Chrome, YouTube, Gmail, Voice and Currents.

    Maps and Earth don't seem to work that well, however since I've got a Note 2, I dont try very hard to futz with them.
  19. sergey

    sergey Well-Known Member

    It's been several months and I still have my galaxy tab 10.1. But that's been sitting on the shelf and I use it only when my Kindle dies out on me. I use my Kindle everyday at home and do not regret buying it. It's a bit slow at times, but I love it. It is a great time killer. Pretty much what I said up top still stands.

    This is not for everybody, but for the right person this will be the ideal tablet.
  20. Jesslynh

    Jesslynh Well-Known Member

    I am the opposite. I now have my Galaxy Tab 8.9 sitting next to my AKFHD 8.9. Every time I look at the screen of the KFHD, I am in love....right up to the point where that awful carousel appears. I just can't take it anymore, so I just use the KFHD for movies and games, but have moved back to the Galaxy for email, podcasts, forums and browsing.

    If Amazon just gave me the option to use a different home screen, I'd be well on the way to happiness. Home screen and an alternate keyboard would put me in the KFHD fanclub.
  21. davewood44

    davewood44 Well-Known Member

    Interesting thread.......just ordered a fire 8.9. I did have a iPad and a nexus 7 but to be honest all I do with either was read mags, surf and watch movies. The nexus 7 was too small and the iPad has Been given to the kids as a video/angry birds player. ;) (It is the older iPad 2 not the retina) I like the feel of real books but am determined to move over to ebooks, running out of shelf space! The iPad mini is just a tad smaller but the 32gb is way to expensive and the screen is not as good.
  22. sergey

    sergey Well-Known Member

    I agree- the keyboard isn't the sharpest. But it's OK. The carousel is fine by me. You have two tablets too? And I thought I was the only gadget hoarder... :D
  23. Jesslynh

    Jesslynh Well-Known Member

    I got, and am keeping the Fire becausse I am as invested in the Amazon ecosystem as I am in the Google one. I was going to sell my GTab 8.9 in favor of a Note 8.0, but after seing the reviews, don't believe that it is good enough to upgrade. Hopefully the Galaxy Tab 3 has an 8 - 9" size and is worthy of upgrading.

    The carousel and other flaws bother me enough that I can't use the Fire as my daily tablet.

    But yes, I'm a gadget hoarder. I also have a Kindle ereader and a Note 2.....
  24. robo916

    robo916 New Member

  25. Tadb123

    Tadb123 Member

    I am like a lot of others, in that I love the KFHD display, and it's audio system is the best of all the tablets ( that may not be saying much), but I hate what they did to the stock Android ICS OS. Somebody said on another forum that his 4 yr old uses his, and has no trouble doing so. Call me a "snob," but if it appeals to a 4 yr old, I'm out! I just can't convince myself to get rid of it, and don't want the hassle of rooting or modifying the ROM. It just decreases the stability too much for me, and I really don't want to have to keep tinkering with it. Regrettably, I don't think that Kindle has any plans to make their OS more stock Android.

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