NEW YORK (TheStreet) –– Amazon (AMZN) is working hard to get its tablet lineup up to par with Apple (AAPL) and its iPads, and the Fire HDX. 8.9 is a great alternative to the iPad. However, it just can't quite meet or exceed Apple in perhaps the most key area: the ecosystem.
Amazon was kind enough to send me the 4th generation Wi-Fi Fire HDX 8.9 to review (there is also a 4G tablet available), and the tablet itself continues to improve, with Amazon finally getting close to or exceeding some of the iPad Air's key features. For starters, it's only $379 for a 16GB version of the Fire HDX, compared to $499 for a 16GB version for the iPad Air 2.Must Read: Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Review: Size Matters
Amazon's Fire HDX 8.9 (which has a 8.9-inch screen) is plenty fast, using Qualcomm's (QCOM) Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor, making it 70% faster than the previous version. You'll really notice this when playing games or watching movies, as I did watching the second season of Amazon's comedy series, Alpha House.
Watch the video below for a look at how Amazon became an online retail giant:
The new Fire HDX 8.9 has also bumped up other specs, with over 4 million pixels (339 pixels per inch) on the screen and 100% perfect color accuracy, showing lifelike images on the screen. By contrast, the iPad Air 2 only has 264 ppi, so the Fire HDX 8.9 continues to outshine its Apple competitor in this area. Battery life is also pretty solid, with Amazon claiming 12 hours of mixed use. I found it came in a little higher than 11 hours between watching TV shows, movies, Web browsing, playing games and composing emails, so Amazon's claim is a little off, but not drastically so.
It's also exceptionally light, weighing in at just 13.2 ounces, having been constructed with a blend of glass and machined magnesium, compared to the aluminum body for the iPad. I actually don't have a preference for either, but you can see where some people would like the aluminum body on the iPad Air 2, making it feel like a sturdier device. For me, a lighter device made of magnesium is just fine.
The button situation is a little awkward occasionally, as I'm used to the placement of the Apple Home/TouchID button and the power off button on the iPhone and iPad. Amazon has the power on/off button on the left and the volume control on the right, but users should be able to get used to it with just a few tries.