“The Amazon Hearth HD 8 is the one cheap selection in its worth bracket, however there’s good purpose for that.”
- Amazon integration
- Good battery life
- Software program can really feel like an commercial
- Sluggish efficiency
- Underneath-par show
The pill market is in an odd spot. Apple dominates, and the iPad is our high decide for many who can spend as much as round $300. When you can’t spend that a lot (or don’t wish to), nonetheless, otherwise you simply don’t like Apple’s ecosystem, your choices are restricted. Amazon is without doubt one of the few options, providing ultra-low-cost tablets for years — and it lately unveiled a refreshed model of the Amazon Hearth HD 8 pill.
Amazon’s new Hearth HD 8 isn’t radically completely different in comparison with the previous-generation Hearth HD 8, however it does supply just a few upgrades. For instance, there’s now a USB-C port on the underside, together with a brand new chip that claims 30% higher efficiency.
Nonetheless, the headline function continues to be the worth. At a super-low $90, the Hearth HD 8 could be the best choice below $100 — partially as a result of it’s one of many solely choices below $100. However what are the sacrifices?
A primary design with just a few quirks
The Hearth HD 8 gives an 8-inch show, with half-inch bezels across the show. The pill is available in a variety of colours, which is maybe probably the most distinctive factor about it. These colours embody white, black, twilight blue, and plum. I reviewed the white mannequin, and it appears ok — although the extra colourful fashions have extra aptitude.
As somebody who often makes use of the entry-level iPad for any pill wants, the Hearth HD 8 does really feel slightly thick, coming in at 9.7mm in comparison with the iPad’s 7.5mm. Contemplating the general dimension, it’s nonetheless moderately light-weight. Nonetheless, when you add a case, it begins getting even heftier. Resulting from that bulk, the pill feels comparatively powerful. It’s largely produced from plastic that gained’t scratch or dent simply.
The Hearth HD 8’s structure of buttons and ports may use work. The webcam is positioned horizontally quite than vertically, and when used within the horizontal structure, you’ll get the quantity rocker, energy button, USB-C port, and headphone jack on the left facet. In the long run, I didn’t thoughts the structure, however it’s slightly unusual to have the USB-C port on the high, and the ability button and quantity rocker on the backside, if you wish to use the system in portrait mode. On the proper facet, there’s a MicroSD card slot to develop on the built-in storage.
That is the primary Hearth HD pill to supply a USB-C port, which is sweet to see. You gained’t actually get fast-charging by means of that port, however it’s useful to have the ability to cost your trendy units with all the identical cables, and inclusion of such a port is slightly overdue for Amazon.
On the again of the system, there’s a 2-megapixel digicam that snaps mediocre pictures at finest. The selfie digicam on the entrance additionally sits in a 2 megapixels, and whereas it should do the job for video chatting, once more, a greater digicam would’ve been appreciated.
Total, it the Hearth HD 8 is constructed to get the job accomplished. Its low worth means you need to sacrifice the extra premium really feel of even Apple’s entry-level iPad, however that dosen’t make the pill tougher to make use of.
Whereas the design is okay, the show leaves one thing to be desired. Once more, that’s to be anticipated of a tool on this worth vary, however it’s nonetheless vital to notice.
The 8-inch LCD show has a decision of 800 x 1,280, which is slightly sub-par. Its most brightness is low as nicely, and consequently chances are you’ll wrestle to see what you’re doing in direct daylight. Colours are additionally slightly muted, making movies much less immersive and thrilling.
Digital Tendencies seen the show was slightly lackluster after we reviewed the 2018 mannequin of the Hearth HD 8, so it’s disappointing that Amazon hasn’t upgraded it. Whereas the show manages to do the job in most conditions, you’re going to have bother utilizing it outdoor, and the films gained’t look as sharp as on costlier tablets.
Lackluster efficiency, good battery life
Issues aren’t a lot better below the hood. Android units usually carry out nicely if you get them, then over the following few years they begin to run slower and slower. That’s not the case right here, sadly. The Amazon Hearth 8 HD runs sluggish out of the field.
This pill is powered by a MediaTek MT8168 processor, coupled with 2GB of RAM and both 32GB or 64GB of storage. If you wish to develop on that storage, there’s a MicroSD card slot inbuilt to the system.
The specs are undeniably modest, and whereas the pill carried out fantastic throughout day-to-day use, if you happen to’re into cellular gaming, you’ll want one thing with slightly extra oomph, except you’re largely enthusiastic about primary video games. This pill isn’t constructed for gaming — although for issues like streaming video, searching social media, and so forth, it needs to be fantastic.
Whereas the efficiency is slightly disappointing, the battery life is stable. Amazon charges the battery life at as much as 12 hours, and I discovered it simply endured two days of average use. Except you usually overlook to cost your units, you’ll discover that the battery life is greater than lengthy sufficient for many.
Amazon-forward software program
Aside from worth, the principle purpose somebody would possibly wish to purchase a Hearth HD pill is its integration with the remainder of Amazon’s ecosystem. For many who use extra stripped-back variations of Android on their telephone, like that on Google’s Pixel telephones or OxygenOS from OnePlus, the closely tweaked Hearth OS on the Hearth HD 8 feels slightly chaotic — and at instances slightly dated, too.
The deep integration with Amazon providers will be very useful for Prime subscribers who already make heavy use of Amazon’s apps and providers. You’ll get fast and fast entry to providers like Audible, Prime Video, Kindle, and so forth, because of the apps that come put in out of the field.
Lots of these providers are constructed proper into the house display screen too — swipe proper, and also you’ll get entry to your books. Swipe proper once more, and also you’ll see movies. As soon as extra, there are video games and apps. It’s an intuitive method to scroll by means of Amazon’s providers, however if you happen to don’t use each single Amazon service on the market, these sections of the house display screen solely function ads — and full-screen ones at that. On the Video tab, for instance, you’ll solely be capable of see Prime Video content material. Even if you happen to obtain the Netflix app, don’t count on Amazon to advocate content material from it in that tab.
Hearth OS doesn’t make the most of Google Play Providers, so that you gained’t have entry to Google providers like Google Drive, YouTube, and so forth except you obtain them. Even then, you gained’t have entry to the Google Play Retailer with out making a significant effort to get it.
Additionally, the Amazon Appstore is proscribed. You’ll discover most streaming providers, social media apps, and among the extra fashionable video games, there’s loads of gaps. You possibly can’t, for instance, obtain an official YouTube app, nor will the health junkies on the market be capable of obtain providers like MyFitnessPal.
Then you may have the adverts. When you take full benefit of Amazon providers, chances are you’ll not care about them that a lot — however if you happen to usually decide and select, like most individuals in all probability do, the adverts get to be slightly a lot. Each time you see the lock display screen, you’ll see a special set of books or exhibits Amazon thinks you’ll wish to learn or watch, and Amazon will usually fill your notification shade with different ads.
Alexa is part of the Hearth pill expertise, and it really works nicely. You’ll have all of the Alexa smarts that you’d on the Echo, plus the flexibility to manage sure facets of the pill’s software program — like opening particular apps, taking part in movies on Prime Video, and so forth.
Finally, if you happen to’re something like me, you’ll find yourself having a little bit of a love-hate relationship with Hearth OS. It really works nice in lots of conditions, however provided that you’re critically plugged into the Amazon ecosystem — and if you happen to’re not, a lot of the working system solely serves as bloatware.
Value, availability, and guarantee data
The sluggish efficiency, bloated software program, and restricted app choice could be unforgivable if it wasn’t for the worth. Nonetheless, at $90, there’s virtually no competitors to the Hearth HD 8. You would possibly be capable of discover a discounted Samsung or Lenovo pill that matches the worth, however you’d in any other case have to buy no-name tablets that gained’t supply any benefit over the Hearth HD 8.
After all, this pill is obtainable instantly from Amazon. You’ll solely get a 90-day restricted guarantee right here, which solely covers producer defects.
The Amazon Hearth HD 8 is a stable finances choice for those who need an leisure machine, or who’re plugged into Amazon’s ecosystem and need a system that takes benefit of that. However, the system is way from good. It has comparatively sluggish efficiency, the software program can really feel like one large commercial, and the show isn’t nice.
Is there a greater various?
On this worth vary, there aren’t any stable options, because the choices which might be on the market are from no-name manufacturers or are critically underpowered. It could be value wanting right into a refurbished iPad, or saving up your money for one thing higher, like an inexpensive choice from Lenovo or the entry-level iPad — although the entry-level iPad nonetheless prices $250 when it’s on sale.
How lengthy will it final?
It is best to get a 12 months or two of regular use out of the Amazon Hearth HD 8. Its sluggish efficiency will worsen over time, which is one thing to bear in mind because it’s not nice to start with, but when all you actually use it for is watching movies and searching social media, it ought to just do fantastic. Bodily, the pill is powerful sufficient to face up to most day-to-day use, however you gained’t wish to drop it or get it moist.
Must you purchase it?
No. Although it has little competitors, the Amazon Hearth HD 8 is just too reasonably priced for its personal good.