As far as tech gadgets go, Amazon’s offer has been a bit of a mixed bag in the past for their Kindle e-readers and Fire Tablets. The Kindle e-readers and all its variations have been an immense success, and are at the top of everyone’s favorite e-reader list, but their tablets have had a tough time keeping up with the competition.
However, Amazon launched a new line of affordable Fire tablets in 2015 and they look quite promising. They have some great features and good prices, although the hardware doesn’t allow for the kind of premium performance that some users might be used to.
The Fire HD 10 is the largest tablet not just in the 2015 lines but it’s also the largest Fire tablet Amazon ever made. It makes a lot of interesting promises and at an affordable price, so it is definitely worth taking a look. Now, a few points before we start the review. As it was marketed from the start as a capable budget tablet, it’s not really fair to hold it up to the same standards as we would on tablets that cost twice as much.
When you try to cut costs and still keep as much quality as possible, something will have to give, and it’s usually the performance and the overall fit and finish that suffer. So, with that in mind, on to the review we go.
Fire HD 10 – Technical Specification
|SPECS||Amazon Fire HD 10
|Price||Latest Amazon Price|
|Resolution||1,280 x 800 (149 ppi)|
|Processor||Quad-Core: 2 @ 1.5 GHz + 2 @ 1.2 GHz
|Connectivity||Dual-band, single antenna Wi-Fi
|3G / 4G||N/A|
|Internal Storage||16 GB (11.6 GB available)
32 GB (26 GB available)
|External Storage||MicroSD card (up to 128 GB)|
|OS||Fire OS 5 (based on Android 5.1)|
|Camera||720p front-facing HD camera
5 MP rear-facing HD camera
|Color||Black or White|
|Audio||3.5 mm stereo jack
Integrated stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos Audio
|Battery Life*||Up to 8 Hours|
|Weight||15.2 oz (432 g)|
|Dimension||10.3" x 6.3" x 0.3"|
|Release Date||September 30, 2015|
|Series||Amazon Fire Tablet - 5th Generation|
*Based on reading, surfing the web, watching video, and listening to music. Battery life will vary based on device settings, usage, and other factors such as web browsing and downloading content. Actual results may vary.
Fire HD 10 – The look and feel
The Fire HD 10 tablet is available in two basic color – black and white. Not a very broad spectrum, but these colors are considered dignified and work well for most people. It’s a fairly comfortable device to hold, but the glossy black plastic can easily leave fingerprints and very much prone to smudges.
Although at first glance the Fire HD 10 looks like it was designed to be used primarily in portrait mode, the 16:10 aspect ratio allows for a much better viewing experience when watching movies and video clips in landscape mode (holding it horizontally).
In fact, while the cameras work quite well when holding the device vertically, the speakers are set up for the horizontal position, and listening to something while in the vertical position is somewhat odd, since the sound only comes from one side. However, the volume rocker and power button are located along the top when held vertically, and allow for easy access. This strange design choice is just something to have in mind when using the tablet.
The best feature is the way that it feels in the hands. The rounded edges, slick plastic and the incredibly light weight – a mere 15.2 oz – make it a joy to hold in your hands and maneuver around the room throughout the day.
Fire HD 10 – The OS and ease of use
The Fire HD 10 is using the Fire OS 5 which shows a good deal of improvement over the previous Android-inspired iterations. However, an interesting thing about Amazon’s operating system is that it likes to suggest items that you might enjoy based on your previous searches and purchases. It’s not particularly intrusive about it, and if you are one of the many people who regularly download books, music and movies, this can be a useful little feature.
The home screen allows for quick and intuitive searches on Google or Amazon, and through all the content you have stored. Just below the search bar you’ll find a number of categories for easy browsing, including “movies”, “apps”, “books”, “videos” and “recent”. This provides a nice overview of everything you have on your tablet, plus the things that Amazon recommends. Overall it is a fairly user-friendly interface that is easy to get used to, and it allows you to find anything you need very efficiently.
Fire HD 10 – Lots of apps and contents
You can find most if not all of the popular Android apps on the Amazon App Store. In addition to this, Amazon has a new Apps Store called Amazon Underground. You can download this to your Android phone but this App Store is pre-installed in the Fire HD 10. You will find a large number of completely free apps – this includes things that can be bought within the apps themselves.
We also recommend you to sign up an Amazon Prime member account as this reasonably priced service turns your Fire HD 10 into a vast library of diverse content, including thousands upon thousands of movies and TV shows, as well as hundreds of thousands of books and songs. Actually, this is one of the main selling points for Amazon tablets in general, and the Fire HD 10 is still going to be cheaper than many tablets on the market, even with the optional annual Prime membership fee factored in.
Fire HD 10 – Excellent child-friendly features
Another great selling point is the tablet’s unmatched child safety features, that comes with the Kindle Freetime app. You can choose the content that your children are allowed to view, restrict their use by setting a schedule when they can and can’t access the content, and you can completely cut off camera and social sharing options. It is a great gift for children and it lets you keep your kids safe or focused on their homework and chores.
There is also Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited, a low-cost subscription plan with lots of content geared specifically towards kids.
Fire HD 10 – Video and audio specs
The 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution is a bit lacklustre, but it still makes for a satisfying viewing experience on its 10.1 inch display, particularly if you consider that you’ll be using it to watch a movie on your own to kill some time every now and then.
The picture is fairly crisp and the colors look very good, so anyone but the die-hard techies won’t have a problem with it, and even they won’t complain much considering the price. When held horizontally, the speakers provide great sound, and there are no complaints in this area.
The 5-megapixel rear camera is nothing to write home about, but if you mostly use it to share a few quick images on social media or do a bit of Skyping, it does a good job. Once again, we are looking at cost-effectiveness as the primary selling point.
Fire HD 10 – Battery life and overall performance
Amazon gives an estimation of 8 hours of battery life for the Fire HD 10. And it has a quad-core processor up to 1.5 GHz and 1 GB of RAM, which does make it a bit slow when you try to multitask and do 2-3 things at once, but it certainly gets the job done.
So, is it worth it?
The Fire HD 10 is far from a high-end performance tablet, but when compared to the other tables in the lower price-ranges, it definitely has a few aspects that make it stand out. It may not be the best choice for techies looking for optimal performance, but if you have kids, or want a lightweight and cost-effective tablet with perks like access to tons of books, music and movies, then it is definitely a good choice.
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