— AMAZON SERVICES —
To start, this is an Amazon tablet made to do Amazon things. Since I use Amazon’s Audible, listen to Amazon Music, watch Video, read their Kindle books, and shop on Amazon, this device is *perfect* for me. All the digital content that you own or subscribe to can be streamed or stored on this HD 10.
— SCREEN —
Let’s talk about the biggest feature to arrive: a 1080p HD screen! This used to be on the HDX models, but that came with a hefty price. Now, we have a low-cost 1080p device and can watch movies at full HD resolution.
Pixels per inch has increased which means everything looks sharper. PPI helps while reading as you are less likely to zoom in on photos or text in magazines and PDFs.
Also, color saturation is bolder. Reds are distinctly redder, along with all the other colors [see photos].
1080p resolution was the only thing stopping this tablet from being truly must-have, and now it’s here!
— DEVICE SIZE —
Not going to lie, the jump from 8” to 10” is pretty huge. 8” was big enough to still be compact; the same can’t be said of the 10″.
This device is now the same size (but wider) as a regular iPad [see photos]. In fact, if you’re watching movies, it’s slightly larger because of the widescreen shape versus the iPad’s squarish shape.
— BACKUP KINDLE —
I have a Kindle Paperwhite. With this tablet, I now have a backup Kindle that I can put all my books on and switch between the two. Granted, it’s not the same reading experience, but it’s more than fine as a backup device, and it helps divide the lifespan of both devices.
Reading magazines and comics is much more enjoyable because of the large size and color screen. Plus, this is faster than a Kindle at page turning. Adding books is as easy as on a regular Kindle: connect it to a computer, and transfer your files into the Kindle folder. Done.
— APPS —
There are very few apps that I was interested in their store. I got the usual: Netflix and Plex to watch my other content (No Vudu, yet). There are lots of free (in-app) games, with the occasional free gem. Don’t expect many productivity apps; emphasis is placed on games. However…
*** MOVIES ANYWHERE ***
As soon as you get your tablet, immediately download the ‘Movies Anywhere’ app on this and your other devices. Launched 10-11-2017, Movies Anywhere connects your Amazon + iTunes + Vudu + Google + Disney accounts together, and you can watch ALL your movies from one app! This is as close to world peace as we’re going to get! Now, it doesn’t really matter what device or service you use, if you buy a movie somewhere you can watch it anywhere! This is the deal sealer!
— INTERFACE —
It’s an Android-based OS. I think that says enough. If you’ve used an Android, you’ve used them all. The interface and usability are perfectly serviceable. It’s definitely not iOS.
— STORAGE —
You can download content to the device for offline viewing. If you intend on storing your media, storage is upgradeable up to 256GB with a microSD card. I think having this option is great and lets you decide how much storage you want to spend separately.
I have the 32GB version. I’ve downloaded some audiobooks and apps, and have yet to fill that up since I stream most of my content.
*** TIP *** Use the tablet for a while before deciding if you want/need a microSD card.
— SOUND —
Depending on the content, the Dolby sound coming out of the two speakers is sufficient for anything. Obviously, don’t expect a movie experience, but you will be able to listen to your music, your audiobooks, and your Netflix without issue.
*** TIP *** Connect Bluetooth headphones/speakers or plug in headphones for louder and fuller sound.
— BATTERY —
The battery on this is pretty darn good. It has about 3-5 days of standby between charges, depending on how you use it. If you were to use it non-stop, you get about ten hours of use. Charge time is about five hours, so best leave that done overnight.
— BUILD —
The plastic back shell feels tough and durable enough that I am not protecting it with a case. However, I did buy a plastic screen protector, as one should for any screen.
If you’ve owned only one of Amazon’s low-end Fires of the past several years, I think you will be impressed by the quality of this new model. If you’re an HDX lover, you’ll probably have very mixed feelings. It’s faster and more responsive, but the screen resolution is inferior.
It’s a bit hard to believe what a difference 1+” and about 4.5 ounces can make in a tablet. The 7″ models fit quite nicely in small messenger bags; the 8.9″ won’t add much weight to a backpack or briefcase. But the 10-inch model is big, too big and heavy for me to hold comfortably in my hands, too large for a messenger bag, too weighty an addition to a backpack.
Caveat: I’m on the short side with correspondingly smallish hands, so if you’re on the tallish side, the 10″ model may not be a problem for you. (Note: the HD 10 is the same width as the HDX, but it is taller and heavier.)
Amazon’s cover is almost useless as a stand for the HD, unless you’re putting it on a solid surface. With a stand, the tablet’s good for watching videos because, of course, the more real estate the better.
The 1080P Full HD, 1920 x1200 display is, without question, the major improvement over Amazon’s previous low-end Fires. So, as I indicated above, if you’re “moving up”, you will be pleased. For we HDX owners, the 1080P matches the video quality, but the resolution is still lower than the 2560 x 1600 we are used to. And it is noticeable.
The cameras aren’t great but, honestly, who depends on tablets for taking pictures? As for the sound? I’m not an audiophile so don’t feel qualified to judge. If I’m listening to music where sound quality matters, I use headphones or a Bluetooth speaker. For the many podcasts I listen to, the speakers are just fine.
The operating system (5.5.x) is only slightly different than what we’ve had since the 2014 HDX (whose OS was just updated). For me, it has always been, in some key usability areas, less friendly than the 4.5.x OS on the 2013 HDX. There are rumors that Amazon is planning to push out a major revision later this year. If that happens, I will post an update to this review.
Yes, for you Android lovers, it is not a true “Android” system, but if you have bought into the Amazon ecosystem, especially if you are a Prime Member, that shouldn’t bother you. As for the complaints from professional reviewers that the design of the OS is confusing, too focused on selling Amazon products? They baffle me. I paid the extra $15 to avoid special offers and turn off Amazon’s recommendations in the Settings. I have a number of complaints about the UI but what on earth is complex or confusing about the sections (For You, Books, Video, Games, etc.)?
The keyboard on this Fire does not have a “split” option nor a “voice to text” option. I don’t know why Amazon did this. In addition, I’m finding the keyboard much less comfortable to use, and I’m not sure why. With covers on both my 8.9″ HDX and this HD10, the two devices are essentially the same width. But it is easy for me to type on the 8.9, much more difficult to type on the HD10. Alternate keyboards are available from the App Store but I haven’t yet tried any.
Amazon has discontinued the MayDay help feature on the HD 10 (2017). It is still available on my HDX tablets. Again, I don’t know why Amazon did this. However, when I called tech support with a problem that needed visual confirmation (i.e., seeing what I was seeing would be much easier than trying to explain what I was seeing), support was able to initiate a Mayday session from its side.
GOOGLE PLAY STORE – NOV. 26, 2017 UPDATE
Special Note: every professional reviewer repeats endlessly that Amazon’s App Store is not as good as Google’s or Apple’s. True. The store has fewer apps. But in the years since Amazon launched its first Fire, I’ve managed to acquire over 200 apps and games, almost all for free. I pretty much have every app I want or need.
It has always been possible to sideload apps (download an APK and install it) to the Fires. For the past year, it has also been possible to install Google’s Play Store, without rooting, on any Fire tablet running Fire OS 5 (which means any tablet going back to the 2014 models). Several web sites have instructions, either in text or video (I prefer the text) for downloading the components you need. I suspect Amazon won’t let me post a link, but if you search for “installing Google Play Store on Amazon Fire”, you will find several. Look them over, follow the steps in whichever source seems to make it easiest for you. It takes only a few moments and, so far, I’ve been able to install and use the few apps I want which are not available in Amazon’s store or do not work without Google’s Play services.
Alert: Some users, including me, have reported problems with Books always needing to be re-downloaded. It appears, at this date, that the problem may be due to the Play Store’s updating Amazon apps, including Kindle. The Amazon Digital and Device forum has several messages on how to fix the problem if this has happened to you.
As a general rule, if you don’t need the Google Play Services for an app or game you want, it is probably smarter to get the .apk file directly (or through 1Mobile). Single non-Amazon apps are less likely to cause global problems.
If you do need the Play Services, after installing the Store, go into “My apps” and turn off automatic updating. Manually update only those apps/games you got from the Google store; don’t update Amazon apps or apps/games available from the Amazon store. But remember: there may be other incompatibilities with Amazon’s current OS or with any future OS updates. So be aware.
I own two Echos. Alexa and I have a fraught relationship. She understands random words on the TV more often than she understands me (unless I shout). I don’t ask much of her (playing the same two radio stations and setting timers cover 90% of my interactions), but she hasn’t gotten any more responsive over the years. Today I tried to get her to run Silk (the browser) on the tablet. She didn’t understand me. Par for the course.
Update: I had to change the tablet’s wake word to “Amazon” to ensure that the Echo responded to “Alexa”. Amazon has a “range discriminator” setting but, as far as I can tell, if you’re holding the tablet and your Echo is across the room, the tablet will always respond. Not a major issue since you can use one word for the tablet and another for the Echo but one of these days, Amazon may want to permit users to select a call word.
I’m baffled by the professional reviewers who complain about the colors, feel, metal vs. plastic body, etc. of Amazon’s tablets. (These reviewers must be the same folk who buy designer clothes and deluxe cars.) I use my Fire tablets more than I use my smartphone. It’s my goto device for reading books, surfing the web for fun and Twitter. I suppose I’d be upset if it came in some garish color, but black is just fine with me and Amazon does offer options for both the device and covers.