Amazon’s $79.99 new Fireplace HD eight (16GB) is one of the best sub-$100 tablet obtainable proper now. With a cheaper price, stronger Wi-Fi, and higher audio than final 12 months’s mannequin, it takes the crown away from its less-expensive sibling, the $49.99 Fire 7. When you should not count on to compete towards the iPad at this worth level, the Fireplace HD eight suits the invoice for media consumption and light-weight gaming, making it our Editors’ Alternative for reasonably priced tablets.
The Fireplace HD eight is a plastic-shelled pill obtainable in black, blue, pink, and yellow. It measures eight.four by 5.zero by zero.four inches and 13 ounces. It is a first rate measurement to carry in a single hand as an book reader, however it is a bit too heavy for marathon studying periods (the Kindle Paperwhite weighs 7.2 ounces, a giant distinction). It isn’t formally ruggedized or waterproof, however the plastic shell can stand up to common drops and knocks.
The HD eight’s 1,280-by-800 LCD has 189 pixels per inch and is not the brightest. The smaller Fireplace 7 has a brighter however much less dense display screen at 171ppi. The HD eight’s show additionally tends to be a bit of yellow, whereas the Fireplace 7 is powerfully blue (neither is especially evenly white). The additional pixels right here actually make a distinction when studying comics and on-line magazines, although. Small textual content within the PCMag Digital Edition is significantly extra readable on the HD eight than on the smaller pill, and comics panels have a bit extra room to breathe.
Amazon is not altogether positive whether or not the pill needs to be utilized in portrait or panorama mode. The twin stereo audio system are on the underside in panorama, however on the left in portrait; the front-facing VGA digicam is on the highest in portrait, however on the left in panorama. Additionally on the highest edge (in portrait mode) are the headphone jack, quantity buttons, energy button and micro USB port for charging and syncing with PCs.
Chipset and Networking
The HD eight makes use of the identical quad-core, 1.3GHz Mediatek processor the Fireplace 7 does, operating the identical Fireplace OS 5.four software program, based mostly on Android 5.1. However efficiency on the HD eight is distinctly higher as a result of it has 1.5GB of RAM as in contrast with the HD 7’s 1GB. Which means UI icons render extra shortly, apps crash much less typically, and net benchmarks rating increased, making for an actual distinction in usability.
Twin-band Wi-Fi is changing into extra normal on reasonably priced tablets, and that is an excellent factor. In PCMag’s take a look at lab, as an illustration, the two.4GHz band is so congested that we get a lot better speeds at 5GHz. The HD eight’s 5GHz Wi-Fi is significantly sooner than the Fireplace 7’s, probably due to the distinction in RAM. In a number of assessments at totally different distances from our Netgear router, we frequently received nearly double the pace on the HD eight than on the Fireplace 7. That made an actual distinction when doing issues like downloading comics.
Battery life, at four hours, 42 minutes of net video streaming at most display screen brightness, is okay however not nice. You may most likely get for much longer battery life in blended utilization, as Amazon’s Silk net browser eats up a variety of energy. Put money into a 10,000mAh backup battery just like the Anker PowerCore 10000 and you will not have to fret.
Amazon’s Fireplace tablets, whereas Android appropriate, are greatest regarded as Amazon media consumption gadgets. With a bit of labor, you may flip them into general-purpose Android slates, however we predict the Amazon restrictions is usually a blessing in disguise: They stop you from getting too pissed off along with your cheap tech.
Amazon’s Fireplace OS is derived from Android, and it runs Android apps, however the fundamental UI is nothing like Android. If you happen to love Amazon, there’s so much to like right here. The interface is far less complicated and clearer than on most Android tablets, with daring phrases pointing the way in which to Books, Video, Video games, Music, and Audiobooks. Your Amazon content material library is routinely synced, loaded, and proven in each pane, and you’ve got the choice to stream or obtain content material. Practically each web page tries to promote you one thing as nicely. That is Amazon, in spite of everything, so the corporate is guessing what you want and attempting to offer extra of it for you.
The OS comes with its personal navigation, doc reader, and electronic mail apps supporting the commonest companies and codecs. To obtain apps, the pill defaults to the Amazon Appstore. You’ll be able to sideload different Android apps utilizing APK information transferred from a PC or a microSD card, however there isn’t any official or dependable manner to make use of the Google Play retailer on these tablets; there are hacks, however they have a tendency to interrupt when Amazon upgrades its OS. The Amazon Appstore has loads of Android apps, however it’s lacking some massive names.
The entire Google apps (similar to YouTube) are absent, as are some Microsoft Workplace apps, many well-liked navigation and transit apps similar to Citymapper and Waze, any various net browsers similar to Chrome and Firefox, and the American Airways and Delta apps, for instance. After all, you may all the time go to the cell websites, however it is not the identical. We turned to a backup APK from a telephone so we may load Marvel Unlimited.
By default, the lock display screen exhibits colourful adverts for merchandise on Amazon. Proper now, our unit is shifting between a clay masks equipment and a 10,400mAh energy financial institution (not the Anker one we suggest!). You’ll be able to do away with these adverts for $15.
There are some pluses to Amazon’s Android spin-off. Most notably, the youngsters’ content material and parental controls are wonderful, with a $2.99/month FreeTime Unlimited subscription service full of age-appropriate books and movies, and an internet dashboard for fogeys that allows you to monitor and management the utilization of as much as 4 baby accounts.
Amazon’s tablets now help Alexa, however with out the always-on “Hey Alexa” performance that makes the Echo so helpful. You need to maintain down the house button to voice search. You could be extra doubtless to make use of the pill as a spot to learn question outcomes, as now you can inform your Echo to “ship the reply to my Fireplace.”
Music and Video
The HD eight is available in 16 and 32GB fashions (the 32GB mannequin is $30 extra). The 16 GB mannequin, which we reviewed, has 12.24GB free. There’s additionally a micro SD reminiscence card slot, and you may retailer content material and most apps on the reminiscence card.
The HD eight’s twin audio system are a giant, constructive shock. Most reasonably priced tablets, together with the Fireplace 7, have a single, tinny speaker. However the HD eight’s two bottom-mounted audio system offer you true stereo sound in panorama mode, and customarily greater and better-defined audio than you will get from different equally priced tablets in each use case.
Video playback suffered a bit of bit due to the marginally dim display screen. Movies sound nice and play easily, however we had bother making out darkish scenes on the display screen in a brilliant room. The Fireplace 7 does a bit higher there.
The HD eight and Fireplace 7 have 2-megapixel cameras on the again and VGA cameras on the entrance. The much less stated about them, the higher. They have not improved from the earlier fashions, taking low-framerate movies and grainy photos in any type of low-light scenario.
The Amazon Fireplace HD eight is greatest pill expertise you’ll find below $100. It is good as a shade ebook reader, an audiobook participant, and particularly as a children’ pill. Its foremost draw back is the dearth of the Google Play retailer; hacking your manner round that may get tiring shortly. However Amazon makes it very simple to obtain and handle content material from its personal shops, with an particularly secure expertise for teenagers.
If you happen to completely want Google Play, flip to the Lenovo Tab3 8. You may pay a bit extra and lose dual-band Wi-Fi, however you will acquire entry to Google’s assortment of apps. At that time, although, you may begin chafing towards the low-end tablets’ efficiency. Amazon’s OS would not over-promise, and the brand new Fireplace HD eight delivers.