Amazon Fire HD 8 (2018) Review: Affordable however Underwhelming

Last autumn, I really helpful the 2017 Fire HD Eight and named it the very best of Amazon’s bundle of reasonably priced tablets. Its sequel—the eighth era of Fire tablets, for these retaining depend—remains to be grime low-cost and utterly useful, just a bit much less enjoyable to make use of. Unless you are utilizing Alexa.

The new Fire HD Eight is just about the identical, in and out, as final 12 months’s mannequin, and the 2016 mannequin earlier than that. It’s a travel-sized 8-inch (1,280 x 800 pixel) glass display cradled by a cheap-feeling although considerably sturdy plastic that you may purchase in all three primary colours, and black. Amazon even positioned a tiny lip across the fringe of the display to assist forestall cracking or scratching for those who drop it. Like earlier 8-inch Fires, the display nonetheless tends to draw fingerprint gunk greater than different tablets, although you get used to it pretty fast.

Most of the buttons and connectors are on the highest, for those who maintain it vertically, like a ebook. There’s a quantity, energy, an audio jack, and a microUSB for charging—typical stuff that you just’d discover on a cellphone. No matter how acquainted I get with the Fire tablets, I nonetheless must really feel round for the amount keys generally, and get them confused with the similarly-shaped energy button. It’s not a deal-breaking annoyance, however it turns into a quirk of the possession expertise.

Amazon has additionally included a MicroSD slot once more, which can turn out to be useful for lengthy holidays or journeys. You can now save motion pictures and different media to playing cards as much as 400GB. A 64GB card needs to be greater than sufficient area to obtain what you need.

The selfie digital camera additionally technically received an improve this 12 months. It’s a 2-megapixel unit now, up from 0.three MP (also referred to as VGA decision). It joins the 2-megapixel digital camera on the again. Both exist principally to take a seat and go unused—they don’t take good images and aren’t notably nice for video calling both—however they’re there and may theoretically do these items, which is sorta the purpose on a pill this reasonably priced.

Amazon and Alexa Above All

The Fire HD Eight ticks off most must-have options for a pill, and like different Amazon gadgets its total interface is centered round serving you the very best content material Amazon (and Amazon Prime) has to supply—books, movies, music, magazines, all of it—and for those who get to know the interface, you’ll work out how you can discover different apps on Amazon’s personal Appstore. That means you possibly can nab video games like Candy Crush and standard apps like Facebook and Netflix.

Thanks to hands-free Alexa, now you can discuss to Amazon’s digital assistant from throughout the room, or put the pill in Show Mode to show it into an Echo Show-type machine. (Amazon made a particular Echo dock that can assist you.) It works nicely, and is a less expensive and extra versatile possibility than shopping for a sensible show. The Fire HD 8’s audio system can play music decently loud, too—not as clearly as many devoted good shows, and generally tinnier, but when music isn’t your high concern, it’s a enjoyable setup.

When you aren’t utilizing it as a makeshift Echo, the Fire HD Eight begins to point out its age and limitations. It should be useful, however this Fire appears slower, with extra lag, freezes, and jitters while you’re navigating menus and opening apps. The battery life can also be a pair hours shorter than final 12 months, because of (guess who?) Alexa.

Amazon hasn’t upgraded the principle processor, graphics, RAM, or nearly the rest contained in the Fire Eight in a number of years. It has lastly upgraded its Android-based system to Google’s 2016 Android 7.1—which can be inflicting a few of that additional lag.

It is also the Special Offers—adverts that present on the homescreen. You will pay $15 to remove these, and it is best to think about it. They’re extra distracting and have extra apparent “Buy” buttons than they used to have. It’s slightly grating when your pill begins to attempt to promote you apps and objects this blatantly.

The new era of adverts comes as nearly all of Amazon’s different apps, and your entire “Fire OS” interface stay caught in a rut. The design remains to be form of complicated and primary Amazon apps like Maps and Camera aren’t as much as snuff with what you’d get on a a lot of our favourite tablets. The choice of video games and apps on Amazon’s retailer can also be nonetheless fairly restricted in comparison with what you’d discover on different tablets.

There is Another

For $80, the Fire HD Eight is a usable pill that performs just a few video games, has books, and allows you to watch motion pictures and TV reveals. For older youngsters that gained’t destroy it instantly by throwing it on the wall, it is an incredible choose. Your kids can deal with slightly lag, and Amazon’s system allows you to implement parental controls very simply.

If you’re shopping for for an grownup, particularly your self, think about a minimum of saving up for Amazon’s Fire HD 10 (with out Special Offers) for $165. It’s sooner, has extra storage, and the 10-inch HD display appears a lot nicer. Pair it with a standing case or Show Mode dock and also you’ll be a happier camper.

The Fire HD Eight stays probably the greatest offers in tech. Just know, earlier than you press that 1-Click button, its funds value comes with some sacrifices.

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