Amazon have recently produced a couple of surprisingly good tablets. The newest one – the Fire HD 8 looks a lot like previous Amazon models, but costs a lot less. In fact, this is an incredibly cheap tablet that, at the first glance, looks good and performs well. Is there a catch?
Design and Build
The HD 8 is available in four colors: black, blue, magenta and tangerine. While this may not mean much to some, it’s always nice to be able to pick between a few colors and this is certainly something aesthetically conscious users appreciate.
Overall, this is a beautiful, modern-looking tablet that does not look or feel cheap, even though the ridiculously low price may suggest that.
With the dimensions of 5 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches (width x depth x height) this is a fairly small, ultra-portable tablet and it only weighs 0.75 lbs, which just makes it even more convenient and portable.
The speakers are surprisingly good. Tuned with Dolby audio, the tablet produces decent sound, which might not be great for playing your music loudly, but definitely works well for movie watching or game playing.
The 8-inch widescreen HD display, with pixel density of 189 pixels per inch (resolution: 1,280 x 800 pixels) is not too vibrant or sharp, but considering the price it’s pretty good. It may not compare to bigger, more advanced screens but it fits the HD 8 perfectly.
The VGA front-facing camera and the 2 MP rear-facing camera with 720p HD video recording are decent enough, but definitely not meant for snapping high quality photos. Free, unlimited cloud storage that Amazon provides for all photos taken on the HD 8 is convenient, but not really something most of us need.
All in all, when it comes to design and build the HD 8 comes across as a well thought out, convenient product, meant to last and packing an additional punch. It’s easy to use as well and the display is responsive and intuitive, which is always a plus.
The Fire HD 8’s predecessor came with 8GB of storage, while this one has twice the amount of memory, as well as a micro SD slot. This is the first obvious improvement. The second one is the large battery, which delivers battery life of up to 12 hours. This naturally depends on what the user does.
If you play demanding games, the battery lasts about 8 hours. Even though the battery life is pretty good, it takes long 6 hours for the tablet to fully charge. We’ve all grown accustomed to faster devices, when it comes to charging at least, so this is a bit of a let-down.
Another nice little addition is there – it’s called Alexa and it is essentially Amazon’s version of Siri. You can use voice commands to tell Alexa to launch games, read audio books, play music or anything else really.
When it comes to performance, the biggest downside is the fact that even though the operating system is based on Android, you’re forced to use Amazon’s app store. Obviously, tech-savvy users can always “jailbreak” the tablet, make it more Android-like and access the app store, but in the context of this review that is completely irrelevant.
To casual users, this could be a potential deal breaker. On the other hand, Amazon’s app store is decent and fairly app-rich and while it is not nearly as good as Apples or Android’s, it has just about every mainstream app. The quad core processor is nothing to write home about, but gets the job done.
One thing is for sure, Amazon have a well-thought out marketing campaign for the HD 8. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can access a lot of content for free, including music, games, e-books, movies and apps.
Amazon offers extensive parental controls – this combined with the low price makes this tablet perfect for kids who don’t really need a high-end device. A large number of, a tad overpriced, accessories, including all sorts of cases and screen protectors is also available for purchase.
- Operating System: Amazon Fire
- Screen Size: 8 inches
- Screen Resolution: 1280 x 800 pixels
- Pixels Per Inch: 189
- Processor model: Quad-core 1.3 GHz
- RAM: 1.5 GB
- Disk Space: 16 or 32 GB
- Cam Front: VGA
- Cam Back: 2.0 MP
- Battery Life: up to 12 hours
- Weight in lbs: 0.75 lbs
- Weight in kg: 0.34 kg
- Good design
- Decent display
- Good battery life
- Good performance
- Amazon app store
- Takes 6 hours to fully recharge
Final Verdict: A Uniquely Pleasant Surprise
To answer the question from the beginning of our review; Is there a catch? Behind the clever marketing tactics, preppy features and a large number of (unnecessary) optional accessories lies a surprisingly good device.
Is Amazon Fire HD 8 among the best tablets on the market today? It definitely isn’t. Can you get a better tablet for the money? You definitely can’t. This is an accomplished tablet, a uniquely pleasant surprise, perfect for children (mostly because of parental control features), but also for casual users who don’t need a high-end tablet. Highly recommended.