Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch First Impressions: Big, Fast, Bright

Of all the devices Amazon announced, none made as big a spash as the 8.9-inch Fire HD. This supersized enhanced e-Reader now rivals competitors such as the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity, the Acer Iconia Tab A700, and the iPad in terms of size, and, with a resolution of 1920 x 1200, pixel count, too.

While there are few--if any--Android apps that can take advantage of this higher screen resolution, the one area where Amazon's tablet will have an advantage is multimedia content, such as high-def movies and TV shows. Adding to that are its stereo speakers, which positively boomed, even in the cavernous hangar where the event was held.

Although the Fire HD looks pretty much like any other tablet--large display on the front, black bezel--we liked the gently curved back, which was coated in a soft-touch rubber. For its size, the 1.25-pound weight brings it just under that of the iPad.

One thing's for sure: The Fire HD is fast. As you can see in the video below, during a walkthrough of the device, Peter Larsen, Amazon's vice president for Kindle, was able to effortlessly flip through different windows and apps. The screen itself was quite bright and crisp. "The Hunger Games" looked great, and we like the X-Ray feature, which shows information about actors, etc. in a small window while watching a movie. This feature is certain to save people from popping over to IMDB.

Considering all the content you can download--which is the way Amazon intends to make money on this $299 tablet--it was a little disappointing that there was no SD card slot to complement its 16GB of onboard storage. However, consumers will get 20GB of cloud storage for free, which (somewhat) alleviates this concern.