Amazon has offered its low-cost Fireplace pill lineup for years now, and it is not shy about making it clear that it is a method to take pleasure in Amazon content material on the go, letting the corporate supply a top quality product for a comparatively low value. The most recent Fireplace HD 8 ($89.99) is a cute, easy-to-use 8-inch pill that works fully inside Amazon’s walled backyard. For fundamental streaming video, image books, children’ video games, and Zoom calls, it is one of the best pill worth on the market as we speak, with a sooner processor and extra RAM than the 2018 mannequin. However as a result of Amazon restricts the Fireplace HD 8 to its personal insufficient app retailer, you do not get almost the vary of companies you may discover on different Android and Apple tablets.
Options and Efficiency
The Fireplace HD 8 is available in black, blue, purple, or white. The bottom $89.99 mannequin has 32GB of storage and advertisements on the lock display screen; you possibly can take away the advertisements for $15, or improve to 64GB of storage for $30. (All fashions have a microSD card slot for media storage that helps all present card capacities.) You possibly can add wi-fi charging and extra RAM, making the pill a Fireplace HD 8 Plus, for an additional $20. There’s additionally a Children’ Version, with a rugged case, an prolonged guarantee, and a FreeTime content material subscription, for $139.
The plastic again panel appears comparatively powerful
The pill has a troublesome little plastic physique, at 8.0 by 5.4 by 0.4 inches (HWD) and 12.5 ounces, with an honest, however not nice, 1,280-by-800, 189ppi display screen. That is the primary era of Amazon tablets to cost by way of USB-C, though that does not essentially imply speedy charging; it simply means you possibly can cost it with the cable in your latest Android cellphone.
With a Mediatek MT8168A chipset working at 2GHz and 2GB of RAM, the pill turns in unimpressive benchmark efficiency. It received 4448 on the PCMark Work 2.0 benchmark and 101.32 on the Basemark Internet searching benchmark, each of which will be likened to a low-end smartphone.
Efficiency is a bit sluggish. The consumer interface is designed to work properly on this pill, however you possibly can inform that scrolling advanced pages will get a bit janky. It is by no means an unusable expertise, however it’s positively a low-end one. Video games are a combined bag. An older motion recreation, Asphalt 8, performed easily, however one other one, Riptide GP 2, dropped frames considerably. Children’ video games, such because the Toca Boca sequence, had been OK.
The pill has dual-band Wi-Fi, and efficiency is okay. On a 5GHz Wi-Fi 6 community utilizing a 100Mbps symmetrical connection, I received round 70Mbps down and 55Mbps up, as in contrast with about 85Mbps down on a premium Android cellphone, the OnePlus 8 Professional. On the two.4GHz band, I received 30Mbps down and 10Mbps up, with related efficiency on the OnePlus 8 Professional.
Battery life is superb, at 9 hours, 25 minutes of video playback over Wi-Fi at most brightness, fulfilling Amazon’s promise of 12 hours with the brightness turned down a bit.
See How We Take a look at Tablets
Amazon’s working system is now based mostly on Android 9, and I believe it is turn into much less elegant with time. The fundamental idea has stayed the identical: There are massive textual content headers for books, video, video games, music, and Amazon purchasing, in addition to a house display screen that reveals rows of content material you would possibly take pleasure in.
However that content material has gotten a bit of chaotic, like a giant, unorganized yard sale. On the house display screen, you see Current Apps adopted by Proceed (to proceed content material you are studying), which is sensible, however then issues get complicated with Learn This Subsequent (random ebook strategies), Studying Included With Your Prime, Information on COVID-19, Free TV on IMDB TV, TV Included With Your Prime, and solely then Your Watchlist of content material you’ve got really picked out.
On the app display screen, you’ve gotten Really useful for You, Prime Subscription Apps for You, and Based mostly on Your App Pursuits, and it is not clear how or why they’re totally different. It is simply too many perplexingly related classes of stuff organized not by your personal decisions, however by what Amazon needs to push.
Video is without doubt one of the greatest makes use of for the Fireplace HD 8
On the plus facet, Amazon’s interface makes it straightforward to pick out and obtain Amazon Prime video. The pill’s app retailer additionally presents Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Disney+, Philo, HBO GO and NOW, Starz, DC Universe, Showtime, and others. (CBS All Entry, Apple TV+, and YouTube are lacking.) You may as well load your media onto a microSD card and use the VLC app to play it.
Amazon’s Freetime service locks the pill into an age-appropriate content material mode for youths below 12, with content material from Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop, and numerous common toy-related video and ebook franchises.
The 2 audio system on the highest of the Fireplace HD 8 are uncommonly wealthy and highly effective for one thing this small. I would not use the pill as a devoted speaker, however it’s simply high-quality for watching TV in mattress or within the automobile, and the usual headphone jack and Bluetooth connection supply different listening choices.
The pill helps hands-free Alexa, turning it right into a type of Echo Present. You possibly can ask Alexa to play music or movies, set timers, or stroll you thru recipes hands-free. That makes this a terrific little kitchen pill. It prices $10 lower than the Echo Present 8; the Present 8 has higher sound, however you possibly can’t throw it in your bag for the youngsters to make use of within the backseat.
The twin 2-megapixel cameras get fundamental video calling executed, however that is about it. Anticipate photographs in any type of low gentle to be dim and vague, and noise and body charges to essentially drop in insufficient lighting. However that is not a giant deal for an $89 pill. An important takeaway is that with respectable lighting, Zoom works high-quality, and that is primarily what you have to be utilizing the digital camera right here for.
The Fireplace HD 8 is a high-quality book reader
A Kindle Substitute?
One different cause you may be take into account the Fireplace HD 8 is for a colour book reader. I do not love studying common books on a pill: The glowing LCDs haven’t got the identical restful vibe as an E Ink reader, and the batteries do not final as lengthy. However for youngsters’s books, comics, magazines, and the like, you need one thing with colour.
The 8-inch display screen right here works properly for youngsters’s books. Comics undergo a bit from the low decision; whereas single pages work properly, two-page spreads are arduous to learn. Manga work higher as a result of they not often have spreads. Journal pages learn decently, though small kind positively suffers from the display screen decision. For a sharper view, you need to search for a pill with 1,900-by-1,200 decision, however they’re costlier—the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.4, as an illustration, prices $264.
Comics are OK till you hit two-page spreads
The display screen features a blue gentle filtering choice, so it may be extra restful if you happen to’re taking a look at content material late within the night.
The App Hole
The Fireplace HD 8’s greatest drawback is how weak Amazon’s Appstore has turn into. The system UI prevents you from simply accessing apps bought with some other retailer.
Apps are below a Video games and Apps header on the house web page. Faucet on Your Video games and Apps and also you get an Appstore Library of all the things you’ve got ever downloaded from Amazon.
Amazon’s retailer lacks many apps which might be in Google’s Play retailer or in different third-party shops like APKPure. Most significantly, there aren’t any Google apps. There’s additionally no Microsoft Groups, for training and video chat use; no Kayak or Expedia for journey reserving; no Stitcher or Pocket Casts for podcasts; no Marvel Comics or Marvel Limitless; and extra. It is an impoverished app expertise in contrast with some other Android system (and particularly in contrast with an iPad).
The interface would not appear like Android in any respect
Amazon tries to fill the gaps left by Google companies with its personal multipurpose e-mail, mapping, calendar, and contacts apps; they’re all gradual however work high-quality.
You possibly can sideload apps as APK recordsdata by way of USB or cloud companies, or load the APKPure retailer onto the pill. However in contrast to with earlier variations of Amazon’s software program, these apps do not present up wherever within the UI. It’s a must to launch a third-party APK supervisor app to see and use those you’ve got put in. And no, you possibly can’t change Amazon’s default launcher so the apps present up.
It is even worse with Google apps, as a result of Google actively would not need you utilizing them on this pill. Sure, you possibly can hack Google Play companies onto the Fireplace HD 8, however it’s liable to interrupt at any second.
Amazon’s app method has gone backward with time. It was once that you can sideload apps or different shops and see them on the general app record. With its present UI, I can not advocate this pill for third-party app use past fundamental streaming video, e-reading, net searching, children’ video games, and Zoom. Get used to utilizing the online browser for different issues.
You possibly can take away the built-in advertisements for $15
For years now, I’ve really useful Amazon’s Fireplace line as my favourite reasonably priced tablets. The present Fireplace HD 8 continues that legacy. Do not buy the 7-inch Fireplace, which has insufficient RAM; if you happen to’re getting a small Amazon pill, get this one. (There’s additionally the aforementioned Fireplace HD 8 Plus that provides extra RAM and wi-fi charging, which we’ll overview quickly.)
However I really feel like the worth equation has wobbled as Amazon’s Appstore continues to lack vital apps, and Amazon has made it more durable to load apps from different sources.
Meaning you are going to must make the decision based mostly on what you need to use your low cost pill for, and it is not as clear because it was once. In the event you’re glad by Amazon’s content material library, plus the streaming companies supported right here, go for the Fireplace HD 8. In any other case you may sacrifice some battery life, however achieve appreciable flexibility with Walmart’s $64 Onn. 8-inch pill, which has the usual Google Play retailer.
Lengthy battery life
Palms-free Alexa assist
The Backside Line
Amazon’s cheap Fireplace HD 8 pill continues to be a wonderful worth for the value, however its poor app retailer is absolutely beginning to really feel limiting.
Amazon Fireplace HD 8 (2020) Specs
|Working System||Amazon Fireplace OS|
|Dimensions||8.0 by 5.4 by 0.4 inches|
|Display Measurement||8 inches|
|Display Decision||1,280 by 800 pixels|
|Storage Capability||32 GB|
|Battery Life||9 hours, 25 minutes|