1) Feels much more polished than the initial Kindle fire. I have spent a good bit of time playing with the original kindle. It always felt like a first generation product. But the new Kindle Fire 8.9 is thinner, has a great screen, and just feels like a better product.
2) I stil don’t like the carousel interface. It is fairly easy to use, but it isn’t a great system. I do not like that new books automatically show up in the carousel. If the kindle fire is a shared device, then there are books that show up on the kindle as soon as you purchase them, whether you want them on the kindle fire or not. If you are an adult and you share the kindle with your kids, it is likely that there are books that are appropriate for you, but not for them. You can remove the books from the carousel, but you cannot prevent them from showing up initially.
3) Screen is very nice. Comparing it to a iPad 2, the Kindle Fire 8.9 has a better screen. It is sharper, brighter, and has a higher resolution.
4) Size. The width is almost exactly the same as an iPad. This is a 16 by 9 screen instead of a 4 by 3 screen. So it is narrower than an iPad. It’s weight is slightly less than the newest iPad. It feels like a smaller device than the iPad (and it is).
5) Buttons. I don’t know why manufacturers don’t like buttons. Buttons make sense. There are not any buttons on the front. (No home button like the iPad). There is a power buttons, but it is almost hidden and I keep turning the Fire upside down to find it. Because there is no indication of orientation on the front, it is hard to remember where that power button is. I love that there is a volume rocker. That was a major complaint of mine about the original Kindle Fire. But again, because there is not any icons or any other indications on the front, and because the buttons are flush, I can’t actually figure our where the buttons are. That might get better over time, but initially it is just frustrating.
Other Thoughts: I am more impressed with the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 than I thought. It is a much more polished product than the first generation Kindle Fire. If you already have an iPad, there is no reason to get a Kindle Fire instead. However, the price point makes it fairly competitive, it is $299 compared to the slightly larger regular iPad ($399) or the iPad Mini ($329). It is also competative with other android tabets. Amazon is attempting to make it easier to use than a regular android table, but I am not sure they really succeed. They make it more compatable with Amazon’s store (videos, music and books are very easy to use).
Bottom line. If you like the Amazon ecosystem, have an eink Kindle and want a tablet, don’t already have other apple devices, then the Kindle Fire HD is a fine option. If you already have a tablet, then there is not a reason to upgrade to the Kindle Fire. If you do not use the Amazon ecosystem, then it will be a fairly hard choice about whether you want to look at the Kindle Fire, an iPad or a Nexus 7.