When to choose Amazon’s $100 tablet over expensive iPad
For years I have recommended the iPad over all other tablets. It’s versatile with an excellent range of apps available, but it’s expensive.
I recently tested Amazon’s latest $100 Fire HD 8 tablet, and it may be worth the savings in certain circumstances. Here’s why.
The Fire HD 8 was recently updated to be faster, thinner, lighter and have slightly longer battery life – Amazon rates it at 13 hours. There is also USB-C for charging.
The tablet has a great, compact size with an 8-inch HD screen.
I highly recommend the optional folding cover, both to support the tablet and protect the screen. It’s around $30.
I tested the Plus version of the tablet, which costs $20 more and adds more RAM, a better rear camera, faster charging and wireless charging. I’d recommend the extra $20 just for the extra gigabyte of RAM, which can speed up app loading and running. There is also a children’s version.
To test the tablet, I downloaded a bunch of video apps to the tablet and took it on my flights to Japan.
The first thing you notice is that the unlock screen has a distracting ad. You can pay Amazon $15 to get rid of this feature. It’s annoying, but not a deal breaker.
I was surprised to learn that the home screen only allows for a certain level of customization. You cannot delete any pre-installed apps or a carousel that displays recent items.
Search is Bing by default. In fact, Google is nowhere to be found on this tablet. You can’t even easily install popular Google apps like Maps, Gmail or YouTube. I say easy since more advanced users can follow a few steps to install Google Play on this tablet and get these apps up and running. It is possible, but it will require some knowledge.
You can use the web versions of the Google apps. Just be careful when searching for Google apps in Amazon’s AppStore as there are many scammers lurking in there.
Standard storage on the Fire HD 8 is 32 or 64 gigabytes, but you can insert a memory card to expand it up to 1 terabyte.
Let me be clear: this is not a tablet for content creation. It’s a consumer device, and it’s perfectly fine to keep you entertained.
I downloaded apps from Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus and Hulu. Apple TV+ is not currently supported. I also found that the Amazon version of Paramount+ differed slightly from the iOS and regular Android versions in that it did not allow me to download programs for offline viewing. I could just stream.
Otherwise, streaming and downloading work fine. The screen is bright enough, the sound is loud, and if you can believe it, there’s even a headphone jack. A headphone jack in 2022!
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, this tablet really lets you take advantage of your membership. You can watch Prime Video, read Kindle Books, listen to Audible, Amazon Music, and even use Alexa to control your smart devices.
There’s also a new built-in feature called Tap to Alexa that lets you interact with the assistant using touch versus voice. It is an excellent accessibility and convenience feature.
There is also a function that allows you to type something into Alexa and the assistant will say what you type out loud.
Overall, for $100, the Fire HD 8 is a great way to watch, listen, and even play some simple games. Just don’t push this tablet too hard or you’ll start to see some of the limitations.