Amazon has bought its low-cost Fireplace pill lineup for years now, and it is not shy about making it clear that it is a technique to get pleasure from Amazon content material on the go, letting the corporate provide 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 the very best pill worth on the market right now, with a quicker 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 aren’t getting 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 adverts on the lock display screen; you possibly can take away the adverts 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’ll be able to 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 technology of Amazon tablets to cost through USB-C, though that does not essentially imply speedy charging; it simply means you possibly can cost it with the cable to your current Android telephone.
With a Mediatek MT8168A chipset working at 2GHz and 2GB of RAM, the pill turns in unimpressive benchmark efficiency. It bought 4448 on the PCMark Work 2.0 benchmark and 101.32 on the Basemark Net looking benchmark, each of which might be likened to a low-end smartphone.
Efficiency is a bit sluggish. The consumer interface is designed to work nicely on this pill, however you possibly can inform that scrolling complicated pages will get a bit janky. It is in no way an unusable expertise, but it surely’s positively a low-end one. Video games are a blended bag. An older motion sport, Asphalt 8, performed easily, however one other one, Riptide GP 2, dropped frames considerably. Children’ video games, such because the Toca Boca collection, have 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 bought round 70Mbps down and 55Mbps up, as in contrast with about 85Mbps down on a premium Android telephone, the OnePlus 8 Professional. On the two.4GHz band, I bought 30Mbps down and 10Mbps up, with comparable 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 feel it is change into much less elegant with time. The essential idea has stayed the identical: There are massive textual content headers for books, video, video games, music, and Amazon buying, in addition to a house display screen that exhibits rows of content material you would possibly get pleasure from.
However that content material has gotten a bit of chaotic, like an enormous, unorganized yard sale. On the house display screen, you see Latest Apps adopted by Proceed (to proceed content material you are studying), which is sensible, however then issues get complicated with Learn This Subsequent (random e book 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 may have Really useful for You, High Subscription Apps for You, and Primarily based on Your App Pursuits, and it is not clear how or why they’re totally different. It is simply too many perplexingly comparable classes of stuff organized not by your personal selections, however by what Amazon desires to push.
Video is likely one of the finest makes use of for the Fireplace HD 8
On the plus aspect, Amazon’s interface makes it straightforward to pick out and obtain Amazon Prime video. The pill’s app retailer additionally provides 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 also 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 varied well-liked toy-related video and e book 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, but it surely’s simply nice for watching TV in mattress or within the automotive, and the usual headphone jack and Bluetooth connection provide different listening choices.
The pill helps hands-free Alexa, turning it right into a type of Echo Present. You’ll be able to ask Alexa to play music or movies, set timers, or stroll you thru recipes hands-free. That makes this an awesome 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. Count on photographs in any type of low mild to be dim and vague, and noise and body charges to actually drop in insufficient lighting. However that is not an enormous deal for an $89 pill. A very powerful takeaway is that with first rate lighting, Zoom works nice, and that is primarily what you have to be utilizing the digital camera right here for.
The Fireplace HD 8 is a nice e book reader
A Kindle Substitute?
One different purpose you may be contemplate the Fireplace HD 8 is for a colour e 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 kids’s books, comics, magazines, and the like, you need one thing with colour.
The 8-inch display screen right here works nicely for kids’s books. Comics undergo a bit from the low decision; whereas single pages work nicely, two-page spreads are onerous to learn. Manga work higher as a result of they hardly ever have spreads. Journal pages learn decently, though small sort positively suffers from the display screen decision. For a sharper view, you wish to search for a pill with 1,900-by-1,200 decision, however they’re costlier—the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.4, for example, prices $264.
Comics are OK till you hit two-page spreads
The display screen features a blue mild filtering possibility, so it may be extra restful if you happen to’re content material late within the night.
The App Hole
The Fireplace HD 8’s greatest drawback is how weak Amazon’s Appstore has change into. The system UI prevents you from simply accessing apps bought with every 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 every little thing 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 schooling 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 every other Android machine (and particularly in contrast with an iPad).
The interface would not appear to be Android in any respect
Amazon tries to fill the gaps left by Google companies with its personal multipurpose electronic mail, mapping, calendar, and contacts apps; they’re all gradual however work nice.
You’ll be able to sideload apps as APK recordsdata through 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 important 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, but it surely’s liable to interrupt at any second.
Amazon’s app method has gone backward with time. It was once that you may sideload apps or different shops and see them on the general app checklist. With its present UI, I am unable to advocate this pill for third-party app use past fundamental streaming video, e-reading, net looking, children’ video games, and Zoom. Get used to utilizing the net browser for different issues.
You’ll be able to take away the built-in adverts for $15
For years now, I’ve really helpful Amazon’s Fireplace line as my favourite inexpensive 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 evaluation quickly.)
However I really feel like the worth equation has wobbled as Amazon’s Appstore continues to lack necessary apps, and Amazon has made it tougher to load apps from different sources.
Which means you are going to should make the decision based mostly on what you wish to use your low-cost pill for, and it is not as clear because it was once. When you’re happy 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 acquire appreciable flexibility with Walmart’s $64 Onn. 8-inch pill, which has the usual Google Play retailer.
Lengthy battery life
Arms-free Alexa assist
The Backside Line
Amazon’s cheap Fireplace HD 8 pill continues to be a wonderful worth for the worth, however its poor app retailer is de facto 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 Dimension||8 inches|
|Display Decision||1,280 by 800 pixels|
|Storage Capability||32 GB|
|Battery Life||9 hours, 25 minutes|