Amazon Fire HD 8 and 8 Plus Review (2022): Unbeatable Value

Amazon Fire HD 8 and 8 Plus Review (2022): Unbeatable Value

If you want a little more power, there’s also the Fire HD 8 Plus ($150), which offers an extra gigabyte of RAM, wireless charging, and a 5-megapixel camera (to the base model’s 2-megapixel — neither of which are very good, so don’t let this be the selling point of Pluss). The extra RAM is very welcome, but the difference here isn’t as noticeable as it is with the 10-inch Fire HD Plus. If you want to get real work done, you can do it on the 10-inch Fire HD, but neither model of the Fire HD 8 will work for you.

Four HD 8 Kids

Photo: Amazon

Four HD 8 game pack

Photo: Amazon

Along with the Plus model, Amazon has quite a few other bundles, like the Fire HD 8 Kids models, which have protective covers, some extra software and content packs along with parental controls. There’s also now a gaming bundle that comes with a Luna controller ($169), but given the limitations of Fire OS, I can’t imagine this will appeal to many gamers.

Therein lies the main spark of Fire tablets – Amazon’s software.

What is wrong

Out of the box, Amazon’s Fire tablet offers an experience that reminds me of the hyper-ad-saturated world of Idiocracy.

From the moment you try to unlock the Fire HD 8, you’re confronted with an onslaught of ads and dark-patterned designs designed to get you to click on things, especially if you opt for the ad-supported models. Just don’t do it. Use the extra $20 to free yourself from some of the ads. Don’t worry, you’ll still have Amazon content thrust upon you every time you so much as look at the Fire HD 8. This is, as they say, the entry price. Do you want a cheap tablet? You’re going to get a tablet that feels like it needs to get more money out of you every time.

Fire OS, Amazon’s fork of Android, has been updated to use Android 11, which is still two full versions behind Android. Other than the app switcher screen and a few minor theme details, I couldn’t see much of a difference. Fire OS still offers the same basic experience, which isn’t necessarily bad, but is limited by the app store.

Out of the box, the Fire HD 8 tablet doesn’t offer any Google apps or access to the Google Play Store. The selection in Amazon’s app store is what you might call lacking. Want to watch YouTube? Chat on Slack? No, not happening. While you’d argue that this is a tablet mostly for consumption and doesn’t need much of what’s in the Google Play Store, YouTube is a glaring omission. My suggestion would be that if you have specific apps you want to use, browse Amazon’s app store before you buy to make sure what you want is available (if you have an Android device you can download and browse Amazon’s app store here ).

What about “sideloading” Google Play? We have a guide on how to install the Google Play Store on an Amazon Fire tablet, but unfortunately that guide doesn’t work for this model. Or at least it doesn’t work with the current version of Fire OS. Some Reddit users who have received a software update to Fire OS claim that they have been able to install and use Google Play. My review unit is so far stuck on Fire OS, which, I can confirm, will install the Google Play Store itself, but won’t allow you to sign in and install any apps from it. I will update our guide with information on how to do it once I can confirm it works. At some point you’ll probably be able to install the Play Store, but right now you can’t.

Amazon’s 2022 Fire HD 8 is still good at what it was designed to do: stream Amazon content. If you’re a Prime subscriber and want a small, affordable device to use on the couch, in the kitchen, or even with a stand to mimic an Echo Show, the Fire HD 8 isn’t bad. But if you can afford it, the 10-inch model offers a much better overall experience and remains our top pick. If you really want to get a deal, wait until the next Prime Day rolls around, when Amazon’s Fire tablets can usually be had for half price.

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