The best value for money for tablets

The new Fire HD 8 Plus comes with a bright and crisp display, 32GB of expandable storage, Alexa hands-free, and up to 13 hours of battery life. All of that goes for the Fire HD 8 too, which costs $ 20 less. (Photo: Rick Broida / Yahoo)

Looking for fun? Look for a tablet, which can offer movies, TV shows, books, games, music, and more. Amazon’s Fire models are basically entertainment screens, and every few years they get a modest update.

So it goes with the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 8 Plus, just updated for late 2022. These were already great tablets for the money; they’re now a bit better, with faster processors, more storage, and slightly longer battery life.

And a price increase. Starting at $ 100, the Fire HD 8 costs $ 10 more than the 2020 model. That’s to be expected these days; inflation is affecting everything. But here’s the good news: The previous Fire HD 8 has been on sale a dozen times in the past twelve months, sometimes dropping to just $ 45. The new Fire HD 8 will absolutely follow suit; I expect to see it for $ 60, maybe even less, before the holidays. And that’s when you’ll want to pick one up.

Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 8 Plus: which one to choose?

The Fire HD 8 and HD 8 Plus have 8-inch screens (both fingerprint magnets, sadly) with a display resolution of 1,200 x 800 pixels. While it’s far below what you get from modern iPads, it’s definitely sharp enough for books, games, and movies. It’s also noticeably better than the Fire 7’s 1,024 x 600-pixel screen, which I found so grainy that I couldn’t recommend the tablet in the end.

Similarly, while the Fire 7 is a fairly slow device, the Fire HD 8’s recently updated hexacore processor delivers the power needed for basic tablet tasks.

This is where I stop to recommend spending the extra $ 20 for the Fire HD 8 Plus, which offers three key benefits: 3GB of RAM instead of 2GB (which helps with performance and multitasking), support for wireless charging (via the dock Amazon’s $ 50 wireless charging pad or any Qi charging pad) and a much better rear camera: 5 megapixels, to the 2 megapixels of the Fire HD 8.

In fact, if you add that dock to the mix, you can take better advantage of something called Show Mode, which effectively transforms the Fire HD 8 Plus into an Echo Show 8 smart screen. While you still have Alexa’s voice commands hands-free, Show Mode transforms it. in a full screen experience.

Returning the cameras, they’re … fine. Good for kids to mess with, decent in a pinch for Zoom meetings, that sort of thing. IPads offer far superior cameras, but ask yourself if you really intend to take pictures with your tablet anyway. I do it once on a blue moon.

The Fire HD 8 showing the text of an e-book.

The Fire HD 8’s screen isn’t super high resolution, but it’s very sharp for reading e-books and other text. (Photo: Rick Broida / Yahoo)

The tablet’s built-in stereo speakers are, as you might expect, tiny and tinny, suitable for listening to podcasts and watching videos, but you’ll be happier with a paired Bluetooth speaker or headphones in the end. (There’s also a traditional headphone jack if you prefer something wired.)

As noted, the Fire HD 8 Plus supports wireless charging, but both models come with USB-C ports and actually come with both a USB-C cable and an AC adapter (unlike some Apple tablets, cough). Amazon promises up to 13 hours on a charge, which is extremely good battery life, and my informal tests confirm this.

The two tablets include 32GB of built-in storage, although you can opt for 64GB when buying for an extra $ 30. My advice: save your money. If you need more storage for downloading movies and games, you can put in a cheap microSD card. (Example: Here’s a 64GB card for just $ 10.)

Let’s talk about the advertising elephant in the room …

Like other Amazon Kindle Fire tablets and e-readers, the Fire HD 8 displays ads on the lock screen. I honestly don’t mind, and in fact barely notice it, as the ad disappears the moment you swipe to unlock. But if you find that questionable, you can pay a one-time fee of $ 15 to ban the ads forever. (On the HD 8 Plus, it costs $ 25. Don’t ask me why.)

When you wake your Fire HD 8, an announcement appears.  But who cares?  One shot and it's gone.  (Photo: Rick Broida / Yahoo)

When you wake your Fire HD 8, an announcement appears. But who cares? One shot and it’s gone. (Photo: Rick Broida / Yahoo)

The other cost consideration here is Amazon Prime. While a subscription to the service ($ 139 per year) isn’t strictly necessary, it gives you quick and easy access to tons of movies, music, books, and TV shows. But even without Prime, you can install apps to access Netflix, Spotify, TikTok, and more, and read any books that are already part of your Kindle library.

Therefore, I disagree with the common refrain that “Fire tablets are only good for Prime subscribers”. If you already have a subscription, great; no doubt you will like all the extras it offers. But will you find this tablet he wants without it? I do not believe.

The biggest caveat is that Amazon restricts you to their own app store (which, again, has nothing to do with Prime). While the most popular apps are available for the Fire, some are not, most notably Google’s YouTube. There are ways around this limitation (starting with: just log into YouTube in your tablet’s web browser), but you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to use the world’s most popular video app.

Another complaint: Amazon’s Fire OS isn’t the most intuitive OS. For example, if you increase the font size for better visibility, many app names are shortened because the text no longer fits. And I’m not sure I’m following the logic behind the For You, Home, and Library screens, because there’s so much duplication between them and little organization within.

The warranty also remains a sticking point: it’s only 90 days. It’s kind of a headache; Amazon’s Fire HD 10 is covered for a full year, like most modern electronics. Finally, the color choices of the Fire HD 8 have been reduced to just three: black, pink and denim. The HD 8 Plus is only available in gray.

Recall, though, that we’re talking about a $ 100 (or $ 120) tablet, one that will likely see a perhaps 50%, possibly higher, discount in the coming weeks. So some nitpicks are easily forgivable.

In fact, if you want plenty of entertainment at your fingertips, in a size that strikes the right balance of visibility and portability, it’s hard to beat the Amazon Fire HD 8 or HD 8 Plus. For the extra $ 20 I’d go for the latter, but not. there is absolutely nothing wrong with the former. These are valuable tablets.

Originally published

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