Amazon's new flagship tablet is a powerful, affordable business slate, but there are a few major limitations. The new Kindle HDX 8.9 is the follow-up to last year's Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. Amazon dropped the "Kindle" brand from the name (it's now reserved for the company's line of e-book readers), but the new tablet is otherwise a pretty straightforward update to its predecessor. It still runs on Fire OS, a heavily tweaked version of Android. And there's still no access to the Google Play store, the main repository for Android apps, so you'll have to rely on the smaller library in Amazon's Appstore, which doesn't include Google apps like Gmail, Maps or Drive. But the new Fire HDX 8.9 is still a worthy successor, with better hardware and a slew of new productivity-boosting software features. And at $379, the Fire HDX 8.9 is one of the better bargains in tech today. Read on for the 10 features that make it good for work.
Amazon's tablet packs a super-sharp 8.9-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel panel with a density of 339 pixels per inch. Although the iPad Air 2's 9.7-inch screen is bigger, it has a lower resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels with 264 ppi. The Fire HDX 8.9 also easily beats Microsoft's Surface Pro 2, which features a 10-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel display with 208 ppi. A high-resolution display is a boon for business users since it lets you view more content on-screen at once – even if it's slightly smaller than the screens on some competing slates.
Just because Amazon's flagship tablet is affordable doesn't mean it's a slouch when it comes to performance. The Fire HDX 8.9 packs a zippy quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM, so business users can expect fast performance and smooth multitasking. It's not as powerful as the iPad Air 2 or Microsoft Surface Pro 3, but it has more than enough power to satisfy most business users.
Even with all that power under the hood, the Fire HDX 8.9 is still one of the longest-lasting tablets around. It ran for an epic 13 hours and 42 minutes in a test that involved continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi. That's much longer than the large tablet average (7:16) and longer than the new iPad Air 2 (9:20). That's good news for business users, since a long-lasting work slate is a reliable work slate.
Not every business is big enough to have its own IT department. But you might still need help when you're experiencing technical difficulties with your tablet. That's why Amazon's Mayday service is such a perk for business users. It lets you access 24/7 live video tech support from Amazon with the push of a button. Once you initiate Mayday, you'll be connected immediately to an actual Amazon expert who will appear in a video chat window on your screen. The expert can walk you through a technical problem, and even request remote access to your tablet to help resolve the issue. And the best part is that Fire HDX owners can use the service for free, as many times as they want.
New enterprise-friendly features make it easier to use the Fire HDX 8.9 in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) work environment. Specifically, Amazon's tablet now features native virtual-private networking capabilities, letting you securely connect to your company's Wi-Fi network and access sensitive data. The new VPN software lets you connect to your company's network on your tablet at any time, whether you're at work or home.
Here's a small new feature that makes it easier to multitask on the Fire HDX 8.9. When you're using an app, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access the new Quick Switch menu. It shows your recently used apps, so you can quickly switch back to another app on the fly with one tap. That way you can spend less time navigating your app library and more time working.
A new feature called Second Screen will help business users beam presentations and slideshows from their Fire HDX 8.9 to a larger display with a few taps. The tablet natively links to newer Samsung TVs (2013 models and later), so you can easily stream content to those screens. The Second Screen feature also works with the Amazon Fire TV, a set-top box device that can push your presentations to any other HDTV model. That could come in handy during your company's morning meetings.
Want to share your work tablet with your family, but don't want your business data to be tampered with? A new feature called Free Time can help, since it lets you set up separate profiles for your kids. Each profile has its own home page and kids are restricted to using particular apps, and they can't buy content or access the Web browser. That can help keep your kids – and your work files – safe.
Print from your Kindle Fire
A recent update to the Fire OS software lets you send documents, photos, emails, contact information and calendar events straight to any printer that supports mobile printing. To use the feature, you'll need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your printer.
This small feature will benefit business users who do a lot of typing on their tablet. By holding down the "/" key, you can separate the keyboard into a more thumb-friendly format, with one half of the keyboard on each side of the screen. It really makes a difference when you're drafting a long email response or editing a document on the go.