Amazon fire hd 10
Amazon.com: Fire HD 10 Tablet with Alexa, 10” HD Display, 32 GB, Black – with Special Offers + Show Mode Charging Dock: Kindle Store
Just dock your tablet and automatically switch to Show Mode, a full-screen experience where Alexa can show news, alarms, calendars, timers, reminders, video Flash Briefings, weather, live camera feeds from the nursery or front door, and more. Pick up your tablet to read a book, play a game, or surf the web.
Just ask Alexa to call or message almost anyone or make hands-free video calls to friends and family who have a Fire tablet, Echo Spot, Echo Show, or the Alexa app. Undock to take your conversation with you.
1) Put the shell on your tablet and connect the micro-USB connector.
3) Dock your tablet and automatically switch to Show Mode. Click here for more details on set up and use.
Amazon’s Fire HD 10 does everything you expect a cheap tablet to and nothing more
In recent years, the tablet world has been little more than the iPad world. If you’re looking for a tablet, it’s very likely that the iPad is the right tablet for you. The iPad’s drop in price to $329 earlier this year strengthened its position even further.
But back when the iPad cost $500 or more, there was a burgeoning market of cheap tablets that promised to do all of the iPad things for a lot less money. This was Amazon’s world. Its line of Fire HD tablets were way less expensive than Apple’s devices, and made for good alternatives if you didn’t want to spend the money for an iPad.
Amazon never really left the cheap tablet market; you’ve been able to consistently get 7- and 8-inch Fire models for as little as $50 that worked fine as a device for kids or a Kindle replacement that could also play video. But now Amazon has refreshed its larger Fire HD 10 for the first time since 2015, with an upgraded display, faster processor, better sound, and lower price. A lot has changed since the last time the Fire HD 10 was updated — not least of which: the iPad is a lot cheaper now. So, Amazon is tackling that head-on. The HD 10 is much closer in size to the standard iPad, and at $149 to start ($80 less than the 2015 model), it’s less than half the price. (The $149 Fire HD 10 comes with Amazon’s ads on the lock screen; a one-time $15 fee will remove them.)
So the obvious question, as always, is: does the Fire HD 10 work well enough to be a compelling alternative to Apple’s tablet, while saving you a good chunk of money? I’ve been testing the new tablet for the past few days, and my response is no. If you want an iPad to do iPad things (video, games, reading, email, etc.) and maybe sit in for a laptop from time to time, you should pony up for an iPad. But that doesn’t make the Fire HD 10 a complete write-off.
The biggest and best improvement Amazon made to the new Fire HD 10 was giving it a new 10.1-inch display with 1920 x 1200 pixels of resolution. It’s well saturated and has good viewing angles, making it great for watching video, browsing webpages, or reading ebooks. It’s obviously not as nice as the iPad’s higher-resolution screen, but most people won’t have an issue with this panel. It’s the best screen an Amazon tablet has had since 2013’s Fire HDX, and far better than I expect from a $150 device.
Amazon’s also upgraded the sound with two Dolby Atmos-tuned speakers, and the processor has been bumped up to a newer MediaTek quad-core chip paired with 2GB of RAM, which Amazon claims is 30 percent faster than the 2015 Fire HD 10’s chip. The entry-level model comes with 32GB of storage, but you can pay more for 64GB or just use a microSD card to expand the storage.The Fire HD 10 is very capable of doing basic tablet things: watching video, playing games, browsing the web
All of these things make the Fire HD 10 very capable at doing basic tablet things: playing video, browsing the web, or even playing games. Navigating the interface, loading apps, and switching between them all happens without drama.
You don’t really get the feeling that the Fire HD 10 is cheap until you turn it over, where a hardy, matte plastic finish greets you. It feels a bit like a child’s toy compared to an iPad (especially in the bright blue color of my review unit), but it’s grippy and feels like the kind of thing that will take a few knocks without showing it. Most people are probably going to put the HD 10 in a case and never see the finish anyway. (Amazon offers a basic $39.99 folio case that can prop the tablet up in either portrait or landscape orientation.)
Despite its low cost, it’s not the hardware that really holds the Fire HD 10 back from competing head-to-head with the iPad, it’s the software. As with every Fire tablet, the HD 10 runs Amazon’s custom version of Android called Fire OS. The core interface is fine; it’s easy to switch between the main app launcher and sections for video, books, games, music, audiobooks, and magazines. There’s also a new “For You” section that shows apps, books, and videos you’ve recently used, as well as suggestions for what to do next.Productivity is where the Fire 10 HD falters
But going beyond the basics is where the Fire HD 10 starts to falter. Amazon’s app store is loaded with popular apps, such as Netflix, HBO Go and HBO Now, Hulu, and so on, but it doesn’t have nearly as many apps as Apple’s App Store or even Google’s Play Store. It’s missing all of Google’s apps, including Google Maps, YouTube, Gmail, and Chrome, and all of Microsoft’s apps. Fire OS comes with its own web browser and a rudimentary email, calendar, contacts, and document apps, but they are poor substitutes for Google or Microsoft’s suites. This all makes the Fire HD 10 a fine consumption device, but not something you’d want to use for heavy productivity. The app I missed the most was my password manager, which meant that I had to look up my passwords on my phone whenever I wanted to log into an account on the Fire HD 10.
Like most Amazon products, the Fire HD 10 wants you to use Amazon’s apps for everything, such as Kindle, Amazon Music, Audible, Prime Photos, and so on. All of these apps come preinstalled on the tablet and are great if you’re already fully invested in them. But if you use a different photos app or music player on your phone, they won’t do you much good here.
One thing that Amazon has added is hands-free Alexa, which means you can bark voice commands at the Fire HD 10 and it will respond to you, even if the screen is off. Like the Echo Show, the Fire HD 10’s version of Alexa will display information on the screen depending on what you ask. Ask for the weather and it will show current conditions plus a five-day forecast, for example. Alexa on the Fire HD 10 is almost as fully capable as it is on Echo devices, and it can be used for managing smart home gadgets, adding things to a shopping list, or buying items from Amazon by voice. The only thing it wouldn’t do for me is play music from Spotify or use Alexa voice and video calling, which is an odd and frustrating limitation, given that Echo devices support Spotify and the Fire HD 10 has a front-facing camera. (Amazon tells me that it is “working on” support for Spotify.)
That makes the Fire HD 10 a compelling kitchen tablet: it can be used hands free for unit conversions, timers, alarms, recipe look-ups, and other cooking related tasks. Or you can use it to watch videos from Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, or other sources, including live TV from Hulu or Sling. That makes it a better (and cheaper) kitchen device than Amazon’s own Echo Show, provided you don’t care about using Amazon’s video calling service (and you probably don’t).
The other thing that the Fire HD 10 will be appealing for is as a device for kids. I’ve already mentioned its hardy construction, but it also supports multiple accounts and parental controls, which are non-existent or difficult to implement on an iPad. Since kids are most likely to use a tablet for watching video or playing games, the Fire HD 10’s software limitations aren’t going to be much of an issue here. (The only problem might be YouTube, which can be accessed via the Fire HD 10’s web browser.)
I don’t think cheap tablets will ever be as interesting as they were a few years ago, when the iPad was a much more expensive device. But while the Fire HD 10 won’t win over anyone looking to replace their laptop with a tablet, it’s still a fine tablet for doing basic things that doesn’t cost a fortune.
And when you’re spending $150, there’s little more you can ask.
Amazon Fire HD 10 review (2017): A $150 tablet that's actually good
I'll admit, I typically dread testing out Amazon's tablets. They're not bad, especially given their low prices, but they're much slower than the gear I normally use. Not so with the Fire HD 10. It's the first inexpensive Amazon tablet that's fast enough to keep up with my needs. That's mostly because the company has finally moved beyond a paltry 1GB of RAM. But I also appreciated having some extra CPU horsepower under the hood.
It didn't matter whether I was scrolling through Twitter feeds, browsing demanding websites, playing Amazon Prime movies or hopping between apps -- the Fire HD 10 handled it all without slowing down. Surprisingly, the stereo speakers sound great, even at high volumes. The tablet can even run some games decently, though it would stutter with anything graphically demanding. While the tablet has received a huge performance boost, its GPU is still underwhelming.
Really, though, the biggest improvement you'll notice in the Fire HD 10 is its 1080p screen. That might not sound very exciting these days, but it's a significant leap for Amazon. The higher resolution makes videos and photos much clearer than before, and the improved brightness makes everything pop. It's also sharp enough to display text clearly, which is ideal for Kindle books. Sure, the screen doesn't hold a candle to the insanely bright OLED displays Samsung is using in the Galaxy Tab S2 and S3, but they're also far more expensive.
If you haven't been bitten by the Amazon Echo bug yet, the Fire HD 10's Alexa integration will give you a taste of what you've been missing. You can ask the virtual assistant to do things like tell you the weather, set timers and relay the latest news. But it also takes advantage of the tablet's screen to display cards with more information. For example, when you ask about the weather, you also get a preview of what's to come over the next few days. Alexa can also start playing a video or song on Prime services at your request -- unfortunately, that doesn't work for other platforms like Netflix. The tablet has only one microphone, but it managed to hear my voice requests most of the time, even in noisy environments.
Compared with other Android tablets, Amazon's interface feels far more refined, despite being a bit cluttered. You're never more than a few swipes away from a new TV show to binge, a book to read or a pair of Cole Haan boots. It's a consumption machine, for better or worse. The Fire HD 10 lasted nine hours and 45 minutes while playing a downloaded HD video on loop. That's pretty close to Amazon's 10-hour battery life claim.
While you can install popular Android apps on the Fire HD 10, like Netflix, Evernote and Spotify, Google's services are noticeably absent from Fire OS. That means no Gmail, no Google Maps and no Google Calendar. Of course, that's been the case with all of Amazon's tablets, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. You can, of course, use the built-in email app and Amazon's Silk browser, but they're no match for native Android Gmail and Chrome. There are also ways to hack the Fire HD 10 and install Google's services, but that's not something that'll help mainstream users.
Given just how much Amazon had to customize Android for Fire OS, there's little chance Google would ever grant access to its apps. But since Android slates have been in a death spiral over the past few years, it'd be wise for Google to work more closely with the one company that's built successful tablets on its platform. Let's face it: The search giant needs to do more than just shove Android apps into Chromebooks.
Pricing and the competition
In addition to the standard 32GB Fire HD 10 for $150, there's a 64GB model going for $190/£180. You can also remove Amazon's special-offer ads on both for an additional $15/£10. While there are plenty of cheap Android tablets on the market, there aren't many I'd actually recommend. Even Google has given up on its Nexus tablet lineup (a shame, because the Nexus 7 was great).
Consequently, Amazon basically competes with itself when it comes to low-end slates. The new Fire HD 8 starts at $80/£80, with 16GB of storage, and the svelte Fire 7 goes for just $50/£50, with 8GB. If you're worried about the portability of the HD 10, the 8-inch model might be a solid compromise.
If you want something even more powerful, with a wider assortment of apps (including Google's), then it's worth looking at Apple's newest iPad. It's just $329 and features a much better screen and superior hardware. Of course, that means hopping over to iOS, but your only other alternative in the Android arena is the Galaxy Tab S2, a two-year-old slate that still sells for $300. It has a gorgeous screen and it's incredibly thin, but its aging hardware doesn't seem like a good investment today. (If you find it on sale, though, it's worth a close look.)
The Fire HD 10 is a glimmer of hope in the barren Android tablet wasteland. It fixes everything we didn't like about the last model, while dropping down to an incredibly low price for a 10.1-inch slate. It's just a shame that such a well-crafted Android device can't run Google's services. As it stands, though, the Fire HD 10 is still the cheap slate to beat this year.
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) review
- The Fire OS interface is easy to use
- Major focus on Amazon content
Navigating around Amazon’s Fire OS is a pretty slick experience. It’s built to be a content showcase, so there are tabs for your movies, games, music, and so on.
There’s also a “For you” tab that tries to combine everything you might want into a single page that includes recently used services alongside suggestions.
The downside is that Amazon’s app store lacks a lot of games and apps that are available in the Play Store or in Apple’s App Store. You won’t find Microsoft’s productivity app suite here. Google’s apps are also missing, so there’s no YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail or, worst of all, Chrome.
That means having to use the inferior Bing-search powered Silk web browser.
Everything works, but Google’s software is far superior, so Android users will feel the absence. It’s worth noting that you can get around this deficiency by sideloading a bunch of Google apps and services, but it requires just enough research and hassle to give the less technically confident pause.
We didn’t have any issues with the interface. Fire OS feels like an old version of Android - in fact it’s built on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is three years old now. Apparently, Fire OS 6, which is based on Android 7.1 Nougat, is due very soon, so hopefully the Fire HD 10 (2017) will get the update.
Ultimately, the Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) is unashamedly all about entertainment consumption, and the interface is entirely fit for that purpose.
Movies, music and gaming
- Great size for watching movies or gaming
- Dual-stereo Dolby Atmos speakers produce decent sound
- Majority of games run without a hitch
If you have an Amazon Prime subscription then you get access to a wide library of movies, TV shows, books and music. You can always load up Netflix or other services, but you’ll get a lot more from your Fire HD 10 if you dip into Amazon’s ecosystem.
As we mentioned before, your content is divided into themed tabs for games, movies, music, and so on. It’s very easy to find something to do on the Fire HD 10 (2017). Streaming from Amazon or Netflix is smooth at 1080p.
The combination of the 1080p screen and stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos makes this a great tablet for watching movies and TV shows. The picture quality is good and the speakers can put out an impressive volume. The speakers are good enough that you’ll get by without headphones, but there is a 3.5mm headphone jack just in case.
Music doesn’t sound too shabby through the Fire HD 10 either, but a tablet is never going to compete with a proper speaker. As an Alexa-powered music queue for Sonos speakers, the Fire HD 10 was perfect.
We played quite a few games on the Fire HD 10 and it coped admirably most of the time. Dipping in and out of Star Wars: Commander presented no problems, though it wasn’t the speediest to load. More graphically demanding games, like Injustice: Gods Among Us stuttered in places and dropped a few frames.
Curled up on the couch, or in bed on a lazy Sunday morning, the Amazon Fire HD 10 is the perfect companion for reading, TV, or movies. It will also serve casual gamers perfectly well.
Performance and benchmarks
- 1.8GHz quad-core chipset and 2GB of RAM
- Offers fast performance for a budget tablet
The Fire HD 10 has a MediaTek quad-core chipset inside backed up by 2GB of RAM. Amazon says it's 30% faster than its predecessor and it feels fast enough most of the time.
Navigation was smooth and we could jump in and out of apps and games without any major lag, though loading times weren’t the fastest. We think the Fire HD 10 has enough power for most people, but as it ages and games and apps get more demanding it’s going to feel slower.
We ran Geekbench 3 on the Amazon Fire HD 10 three times and got an average single core score of 1,501 and an average multi-core score of 3,021.
That’s decent. The new iPad for comparison managed a multi-core score of 4,351, whereas Amazon’s Fire HD 8 (2017) only got 1,887.
Almost every product we review, whether it’s a £50 portable music player or a £50k pair of loudspeakers, is a compromise. The question almost always is: can you live with the compromises the product demands?
The Fire HD 10 is a compromise more acute than most. But a glance at the star rating at the top of this review is a strong hint that we consider its compromises worth accommodating.
Context is everything here. The Fire HD 10 is a big tablet (10.1 inches, in fact, as the model name almost suggests) and it shouldn’t come as any surprise that a tablet this big, at an eye-catchingly affordable price as this, isn’t the last word in luxury.
There’s a lot of plastic here, and it’s not that soft-touch non-flex stuff more expensive rivals are routinely made from – the Fire HD 10 is unyielding to the touch and not immune to creaks and groans, even if it stops short of flexing too obviously.
Further evidence of Amazon’s desire to bring the Fire HD 10 in at an aggressive price comes in the form of its sockets and controls. They’re all grouped together along one of the short ends of the frame – which is not the last word in convenience.
Using this tablet in ‘landscape’ configuration (as you might when watching videos) isn’t too wearing – even if the volume controls are uncomfortably close to the headphone socket.
But in ‘portrait’ mode (when using the tablet as a book or newspaper) the design puts the power and volume controls far from your fingers. And, as this is a 16:10 aspect ratio tablet, it’s tricky to operate one-handed unless you have hands like a goalkeeper.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise to know the Fire HD 10 is part of the Amazon eco-system, which is great if you’re an Amazon Prime customer, but inconvenient if you’re hoping to use Google apps (Maps, Play, YouTube and so on). Simply put, you can’t.
Our review sample is the 32GB model – a 64GB version is also available, and both have a microSD card slot to expand memory by as much as 256GB. There’s 2GB of RAM and a 1.8gHz CPU charged with handling apps and the control interface.
There’s not a great deal more to the Fire HD 10. The camera at the rear is a flashless affair of a mere 2MP, while there’s a 640 x 480 snapper unit on the front. Software-wise you do at least get HDR mode, though it’s pretty slow-witted, so you’ll need to keep very still if you’re taking HDR photos.
Battery life is decent, at 10 hours or so, but charging from flat takes an eternity. Actually it's around four hours for a full charge, which can (in the right circumstances) feel like an eternity.
Amazon’s Alexa voice-assistant is onboard and, while rather hard of hearing in an office environment, is reasonably sharp-eared in quieter rooms. Functionally, Alexa will do everything here Alexa does on, say, an Amazon Echo, so you can ask it to play music, tell you the time or give you the latest weather forecast.
- Amazon Fire HD 8 (2018) review
A tablet this big is likely to be pressed into video service, and the good news is that the screen resolution (1920 x 1200) is a big improvement over the previous Fire 10 tablet and makes watching films an authentic pleasure rather than a trial.
The contrasts, deep blacks and rugged skin-tones of There Will Be Blood (via Amazon Prime Video) are all impressive, and the Fire HD 10 demonstrates a decent facility with motion.
The picture isn’t the out-and-out cleanest we’ve ever seen – there’s some shimmer and noise in the shots of the big Southern California sky – and as you'd expect, it's not in the same league as the more-than-twice-the-price Apple iPad Mini (2019). But it remains reasonably composed in all but the most testing circumstances.
- Best tablets 2019: big, small, budget and premium
Picture upscaling is an inevitably hit-and-miss affair. Should you be prepared to go around the houses to watch a YouTube video (there's no app, don't forget), and it’s low-resolution to start with (our current favourite is Motörhead and Girlschool’s Please Don’t Touch), the Fire HD 10 does nothing but exacerbate its problems.
The image is soft and easily flustered by motion. But the Amazon isn’t alone in struggling with content of this type.
Sound, on the other hand, is a much more assured affair even when the going gets low-res. That’s when you’re using headphones, of course – there’s a limit to what a tablet’s integrated speakers can do, even if they are ‘Dolby Audio’ branded.
The Fire HD 10’s stereo speakers are widely spaced along a long edge, and they’re reasonably distinct and open-sounding, but they’re equally lightweight, edgy and, over time, borderline irritating.
Appropriate headphones, on the other hand, (ideally something like AKG’s multi-Award winning Y50 on-ears or Beyerdynamic Byron BT earbuds) allow the Fire HD 10 to impress.
A 320kbps Spotify-derived file of Fever Ray’s When I Grow Up is nicely balanced through the frequency range. There’s decent detail on display, good separation and focus and, crucially, the Fire HD 10 is believable and reasonably subtle in the mid-range.
Up the ante a little with a 24bit/44.1kHz file of Kendrick Lamar’s King Kunta and the Amazon gains in confidence.
Low frequencies are hard-hitting and controlled, the plaintive malevolence in the midrange is unmistakable, and the top end shines without threatening harshness. It’s obvious the digital-to-analogue chipset sitting behind the Fire HD 10’s headphone socket is at least the equal of some much more expensive tablets.
Amazon is coy about the upper limit of the file sizes the Fire HD 10 is able to cope with, and the amount of downscaling (if any) it needs to do with higher-resolution stuff. But we do know that it has no truck with our 24bit/192kHz library of content.
- High-resolution audio – everything you need to know
As we said, everything’s a compromise – and that’s particularly true of a product that wants you to be a slave to Amazon’s eco-system.
But if you can deal with that element of the Fire HD 10’s personality, you’ll find its audio and video performance well beyond the standard a £150 price tag suggests. It's a fine budget buy. If it's discounted for Amazon Prime Day 2019, which is highly likely, we wouldn't hesitate to chuck it straight into that Amazon shopping basket of yours.
See all our Amazon reviews
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) Review: The Best Value Tablet Around
Our verdict of the Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017 Edition):It's ridiculously good value because it's a subsidized Amazon consumption device. If you're ok with that, love Alexa, and you're a Prime user, this is an absolute must-buy. 910
The Amazon Fire devices have never been particularly amazing, but they’ve always been great value. This year’s Amazon Fire HD 10 refresh adds some seriously cool features and drops the price further. We think that makes it the best value sort-of-Android tablet around – but it won’t be for everyone.
Read on to find out what we thought of the device.
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) Specs and Design
- Mediatek MT8173 Quad-core CPU, 2GB RAM
- Dimensions H: 10.3″ (262mm) x W: 6.3″ (159mm) x D: 0.4 (9.8mm)
- Weight 17.4 ounces (500g)
- 32GB internal memory as tested (64GB also available)
- 6300mAh battery
- Stereo speakers on left (portrait) or bottom (landscape)
- MicroSD card slot up to 256GB.
- 10.1″ 1920 x 1200px 16:10 IPS display
- Dual-band AC Wi-Fi, USB2.0, Bluetooth 4.1
- Fire OS 5.5
- Lacks Google Play store (and YouTube)
- Available in black, blue, orange; from $150
Packaging is as minimal as it gets, likely because Amazon doesn’t need to worry about your device being damaged in transit or passing through the hands of unknown retailers.
The device itself looks quite like an unimaginatively typical tablet from the front, while the sides and rear are are covered in a cheap feeling, matte plastic. It feels like you should be able to remove it to reveal the sleek metal unibody design below; but no. That is the actual back of the device.
It doesnt feel quite solid enough to me; the plastic bends and creaks slightly in places. I don’t think it’ll actually break – if anything, the plastic should withstand scuffs better than a bit of milled aluminium – but it still feels cheap.
The power and volume buttons are awkwardly placed on the top of the device, when looking at in portrait mode. An SD card slot sits on the right side. Dual speakers sit on the left, top and bottom, such that they’re oriented perfectly for watching media in landscape mode.
Ads In Your Face for Just $15: Bargain?
The base model is equipped with 32GB of storage, and can be yours for as little as $150. That’s including the discount for permanently having specially selected apps and products advertised full-screen on your lock screen. But don’t worry, if you do get sick of them, you can pay $15 at any point to remove them forever.
It’s a unique strategy that other device makers, including Apple, haven’t tried yet. I suppose $15 off $450 doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, and would ruin the aesthetics of our cultural icon, the iPad. It’s really quite an ingenious tactic though. We have to think that $15 to highlight some apps every single time you pick your device up is a great source of revenue for Amazon. And for the consumer, a 10% subsidy on the already cheap entry price is a strong psychological push given that they can either take the discount and put up with the unobtrusive ads, or upgrade at later point to remove them. It’s the choice that makes this a win-win situation. If the option wasn’t there, and Amazon just said “we make this device cheap by permanently showing you all ads”, there’d be an outroar.
Setting Up The Device, or, More Ways to Spend Money
Setup was an absurdly simple affair: the device is actually pre-registered to whomever ordered it, but you can deregister that and sign in on another account easily. Then you’re asked if you want to add a user for your child too – which of course I did. At which point, you’re encouraged to sign up to the Freetime Kids Unlimited service for $3/month (known as Fire Kids Unlimited in the UK), with a free trial month. Of course I did!
Thats right: no less than two minutes since turning this thing on, and I’ve already handed more money over to Amazon, because I doubt I’ll remember to cancel whatever this kids service is.
After that, by the way: do you have an Audible account? Would you like to try that for a month? Of course you would, sir!
Fire HD 10 Display
At 1920 x 1200, the resolution is slightly better than 1080p, with a pixel density of 224ppi. On paper, the specs are mediocre compared to some of the ludicrously high pixel densities of some devices, but in reality: it looks fantastic.
The interface is pin-sharp, movies and TV shows look good, and the colors pop.
The 16:10 screen ratio shouldn’t present any problems for either TV or movies, with minimal black bars. You aren’t going to be disappointed by the screen, that’s for sure. It’s the best or brightness, but it’s good enough for most people, and that’s precisely the point you want a budget tablet to hit.
Alexa is Always Listening, but Does it Affect the Battery?
The new Fire HD 10 has one more fantastic trick up it’s sleeve: it’s got Alexa, just like the Echo line of devices, and she’s always listening to you. There’s no button to press – just say Alexa, and she’ll spring to life. (We needed a day one patch to Fire OS 5.5 before this worked though)
I was expecting this to have an absurd impact on battery life, but actually, it’s as good as any other 10 inch tablet around. With streaming live BBC news at full brightness and full volume, it managed a few minutes short of 7 hours. In normal usage then, you should expect a few days between charges.
One great thing about having Alexa on a device with a screen is the visual feedback and additional skills you can access, as with the Echo Show. Having not used an Echo Show before, this was quite novel to me. Given the Show is roughly twice the price, I can certainly see the benefit of just sticking a few Fire HD 10’s around the house.
Unfortunately, things are a bit disjointed at launch: Spotify isn’t available yet (though being worked on), and you can’t make calls. We expect that to be updated soon.
Alexa is decidedly less useful when you set a passcode lock on your device, however. She wakes up, but can’t actually interact or do anything, instead asking you to unlock your device. While this is logical from a security perspective, it’s not all that useful. What’s even more galling is that if you have both an Echo and a Fire HD in your kitchen, and happen to be closer to the tablet, Alexa will opt to respond from that instead of your Echo, yet refuse to carry out said task.
Do You Use Kindle and Prime Video?
If you do, you’re all set. The whole premise of Fire OS is that it gives easy access to all your Amazon digital content. There’s even a special Shop screen for your recommended Amazon purchases. For You is probably the most useful, listing all your most recent items from across the library. Of course, it’s still basically an Android tablet at heart: a screen for all your apps is there too. But it’s designed to bring your digital content front and center, and it does that in a particularly parallaxed and beautiful way, echoing your book covers in the background of each tab. It really does look lovely.
I didn’t even known my Prime account included some magazines. Within a day, I’d bought something new to read. The form factor and blue light reduction mode make this a great bedtime e-reader, assuming you’re a normal person that’s grown up with screens everywhere and not one of those fervent “I can only read on e-ink” types.
App selection is limited though. There’s no Google services to speak of. Being new to Fire OS, it took me a while to figure out that “Silk” is actually a web browser, but it was familiar and responsive enough once launched. I wasn’t going to touch whatever email client they provided, and there’s no Gmail – but to be honest I don’t care. I have so many devices scattered around that I really don’t need yet another obtuse and intrusive notification system on this particular tablet. Until now I’ve been using an old third generation iPad that I never setup my email on either, because why should I? Use this to read and watch movies, and don’t get distracted by the psychological vampires that barrage us on a daily basis.
On the downside, there’s no YouTube app either. That’s a pretty big omission. I’d say around 50% of all the media I watch comes from YouTube at the moment, with about … 0% from Prime Video. It’s not that I think the service is terrible or there’s not enough select, it’s just that there’s more relevant videos out there and my time is limited. During the course of this review, I explored a lot more Prime Video content, simply because it was easier than opening up the browser and navigating to YouTube. The in-browser YouTube experience is quite substandard, and for some reason, appeared to have a lower maximum volume than the native media apps.
And that, right there, is really the point of this device – isn’t it? Here’s this fantastic value little tablet – all you have to do is come over over to the Amazon side. They’ve got cookies (and can deliver those cookies to your door in less than 2 hours with your Amazon Pantry subscription – would like a free month trial of that?)
I’d love to give you some hard performance figures, but the version of Antutu on the Amazon store was seemingly incompatible. The app opened, but immediately gave the option of updating via Google Play or “website”. Upon choosing to update, it ran through some motions but failed to install. You can cancel out of the update and attempt to run it anyway, but the test process refused to complete for me.
That said, I don’t put much trust in raw performance numbers – they rarely tell the whole truth. It’s really the speed of the interface that matters for most people: is there a lag when typing? Can you scroll webpages smoothly? How fast is app launching and switching? In this respect, the Fire HD 10 performed well above what I’d expect at this price point. It runs casual games fine, but I wouldn’t suggest taxing it much more than your average “cut the rope” session. App and user switching was fantastically responsive, and browsing webpages was smooth. At no point did any of the interface feel sluggish.
Who is the Amazon Fire HD 10 For?
Is it for kids? Switching between the full adult user and child user is gloriously fast and seamless. The kid friendly interface is far less complex, and access controls allow you to either set limits or assign daily goals, like an hour of reading. You can even tell it not allow videos until that reading goal has been met. These aren’t so relevant to my 3 year old, since he wouldn’t have unsupervised use anyway, but they’re there if you need them. The browser is also disabled by default, and you can choose to enable it subject to the child safe list of sites.
Unrestricted access to a massive library of books and content make the extra $3/month for a child account absolutely worth it. You’ll never have to worry about little Johnny downloading premium content, because it’s all free.
The Amazon Fire HD isn’t so much an Android tablet, as a subsidized Amazon consumption device. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account and don’t plan on getting one, it’s very difficult to recommend the Amazon Fire HD to you. It’s still enormously good value as a tablet, but you’re probably going want a more pure Android experience with out of the box access to Google Play store, which you won’t find here.
But if you do have a Prime account, and you’re already an Alexa fan, it’s a must buy. There’s no better way to read your Kindle books and watch Amazon Video, and the always-on Alexa functionality is as cool as you’d expect (if a little crippled by a passcode). But know that you’ll almost certainly spend more on Amazon as a result, whether that’s for a Kid’s media account, Audible subscription, or more Kindle books.
Now go forth and consume (on Amazon, please)!