Amazons New 110$ Tablet Review, Is It Worth It? - Tech Tips - Tech can be complex; we make it easy

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Monday, July 6, 2020

Amazons New 110$ Tablet Review, Is It Worth It?

This is Amazon's Fire HD 8 Plus tablet. It is running Android. Well, technically, it's Amazon's Fire OS, but we'll get to that. The base model of the FireHD 8 costs just 90 bucks, and this model with a little more RAM and wireless charging is $110. And you can also get it with a wireless charging dock that turns it into a little Echo Show for 140 bucks as a bundle. And you know what? This thing is great,I mean, it's terrible. It's jittery and it's slow, and it's really limited in app selection without a bunch of hacking, but also, it is great, just not terribly great. Look, you get what you pay for with this thing, sure, but what you pay for isn't just the $110 for this tablet, it's maybe also $120 a year for Amazon Prime. And if you pay for Amazon Prime, this tablet gets much more interesting.

If you've ever watched me talk about tablets on video before, you've probably seen me take a swipe at Android tablets. I mean, like a joke swipe,not a literal interface swipe. Look, there just aren't that many Android tablets left anymore, especially here in the U.S., where even Samsung has struggled to get any kind of real traction with them. Google's also basically given up on Android tablets. The last thing they really tried was this right here. This is the Pixel Slate running Chrome OS, but also Android apps, and it really didn't go so well.


The best and, in my opinion, the only truly great Android tablet was the Nexus 7, the second generation one,from all the way back in 2013. And really, that thing was only good because it acted like a big phone, and that's basically what you've got here with the Fire HD 8 Plus. It is kinda like a really big phone. So it sort of acts like a big phone, but it doesn't really have the specs you'd expect from a big phone. It's got a quad-core MediaTekMT8168 processor in it that runs at two gigahertz. This Plus version has three gigs of RAM and 32 gigs of storage,but you could upgrade to 64 if you want, or you could put in your own Micro SD card in the slot. The screen is 1280x800,which at eight inches, is not the most pixel-dense thing you're ever gonna see. There are a couple of cameras, they're both two megapixels.


You should only use them for video calls, if at all. They're pretty bad. There is USB-C for charging, finally, and a headphone jack, hooray. If you know Android, you know that those specs are enough to launch some apps and run most of your apps, but it's not nearly enough to make any of it feel fast. And, again, this thing runs Fire OS, which is Amazon's version of Android, and that also means it uses Amazon's app store instead of Google's, so a lot of the time, the app that you're gonna need just might not be there.


I mean, it's got the basics. I've got Messenger and Zoom and some games, but you can't get Google apps without doing some hacking, and that's a huge pain. But, again, this costs 110 bucks, and I think that the bundle that costs 30 bucks extra that gets you the wireless charger is totally worth it. It puts the tablet into Show Mode, which turns this into a Echo smart display with decent-ish speakers for a tablet, but it won't be as good as an Echo Show. But, for me, it's just so much convenient to have a wireless charger, and it makes this thing feel like it's a part of my home, in addition to the added Alexa functionality.


Okay, so why would you get this thing over, say, an Echo Show? Well, two words: Consuming content. If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, it's easy to forget just how much free stuff you get as part of your subscription. Amazon Prime video has all of their Amazon Prime Originals, but it also has a bunch of TV shows and movies that they've licensed from other studios, and a bunch of 'em aren't bad. Like, you can stream the entire series of "Psyche," which is the most wholesome show from the late 2000s, or "Burn Notice," also wholesome. Anyway, they're great. You could also get Prime Music, which is a totally respectable radio-style music streaming service. It's not Spotify or apple Music or anything, but it's included. You can get Amazon Photos, which is a totally respectable photo storage service.


There's Prime Reading, which gives you a bunch of free books, and again, some of 'em aren't bad. I am also a Kindle user, so ithas my entire Kindle library. So, Amazon good, free stuff on a cheap tablet. And it doesn't really matter that it's kind of a slow tablet, because all you're really doing is getting to the videoor the book or the music. And, actually, most of the video apps you care about are available. Netflix and Hulu and HBOwhatever-it's-called now. There is a YouTube app, butit's a web app, and it works. But, also, Amazon bad,because there is a lot of upselling going on on this tablet. I'm already a $120 ayear Prime subscriber, but they want me to signup for Kindle Unlimited, which is a book subscription service, or maybe set up for Starzor some other cable channel via their cable channel subscription service, or get Audible, an audiobook subscription service, or Prime Music Unlimited, a music subscription service, or get subscriptions to newspapers or magazines through Amazon. It's just a minefield up upsells.


And also, speaking of selling stuff, the home screen has the Amazon store right on it, which is very dangerous for me. It is whack-a-mole for ways that you could pay Amazon more money, but instead of trying to hit the little buggers, you're trying to avoid them. All right, Amazon good, Amazon bad. Amazon actually really good, because the Fire tablets have a kids mode that has really strong parental controls.


In fact, Fire tablets fully support multi-user accounts, and so this tablet can really feel like it belongs to the entire family. You could have default everybody account that uses the Alexa stuff. You could also have a separate account for each person who might wanna use it, withall of their personal email and whatever else. The iPad still can't do that. So you get an inexpensive knock around tablet that runs (grunts), and feels like it's a part of your house instead of your tablet that you have to loan out to your entire family. Oh, and you know what? Batter life is really good. Depending on the screen brightness, which isn't that high, you should expect eight to10 hours of watching video.


That's what I'm getting. And it also charges a little bit faster because it's got USB-C here. The nine-watt charger that comes with it charges this thing up20% in a half an hour. A faster charger can get you an even faster charge. $110 tablet that lets me watch, basically, any video or read any book, what's not to love? Well, you know, using it to do anything other than open up a video app or a Kindle book, because, again, it's slow. If you can afford it, even the lowest-end $329 iPad has a bigger screen, runs circles around this thing in terms of speed and has more and better apps. The Fire HD 8, it's gonna feel slower than your phone, even if your phone is a few years old. But, look, slow is okay if you're just using it to open up Prime Video, Netflix or a Kindle book, and slow doesn't matter for running Alexa in Show Mode. It doesn't need speed. If you try and do more than that stuff, this thing is terrible, but if you don't, it's actually pretty great. Hey, everybody, thanks so much for watching. I really hope I didn't set off your smart speaker.


I did my very, very best not to say Alexa. Let me know in the comments if I did. And if you're looking for other great videos to watch, Verge Science just madea really good video about how SpaceX sent humans to the International Space Station.