Great for Amazon Prime subscribers
MicroSD card slot
No access to Google Play Store
Going ad-free will cost you.
If you spend five minutes with the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8, you’ll know that it’s not in the same league as the current generation iPad Mini or a top-shelf Android tablet like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8. And that’s OK—it’s not trying to be. The Fire HD 8 is designed for content consumption and lightweight productivity tasks. If you want a tablet that can play the latest games or for processing photos on the go, look elsewhere. However, if you’re on the hunt for a small tablet that can handle streaming Netflix or Amazon Prime Video and play the occasional game of solitaire, the Fire DH 8 has you covered.
About the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8
- Chipset: Hexa-core 2.0 GHz
- Display: 8 inches, 1,280 x 800 (189 PPI)
- RAM: 2GB
- Storage: 32/64GB (upgradable via MicroSD card)
- Rear-facing camera: 2 Megapixel
- Front-facing camera: 2 Megapixel
- Wired connectivity: USB-C
- Wireless connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi (supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standard)
What we like
Robust build quality
While it doesn’t have a body made from aluminum or magnesium like the much pricier M1 iPad Air or Surface Go 3, the Fire HD is still one tough little tablet. During testing, I gently grabbed it by two corners and torqued it. Surprisingly, it didn’t pop or creak under pressure. You should know that unlike Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Oasis e-readers, the Fire HD isn’t waterproof. But then, neither are most of the tablets out there.
All Amazon, all of the time
The Fire HD provides a relatively inexpensive portal to all of Amazon’s most popular services: Amazon Prime Video, Audible, Comixology, Amazon Photos, Kindle, Goodreads, Amazon Kids, and, of course, the company’s vast online shopping empire. You can even use it to let Alexa into your life (although not everyone may see this as a plus). If you’re hip-deep in the corporate juggernaut’s content, the Fire HD 8 may serve you well.
What we don’t like
All Amazon, all of the time
No, I didn’t fall asleep at my keyboard and type the same thing twice. The same thing that makes the Fire HD 8 great for some also makes it a lousy device for others.
All of Amazon’s tablets employ a branched iteration of Android. The Amazon App Store comes pre-installed on this tablet as part of the company’s particular flavor of the operating system. While the app store offers a respectable number of applications to download including favorites like Disney+, Microsoft 365, and Twitter, those familiar with Android from swiping and tapping away at it on their smartphone might find the Fire HD disappointing. Unless you’re comfortable with doing a bit of tinkering, you won’t be able to access the Google Play Store from this tablet. That means no Gmail, no Google Docs, or many of the other popular apps Play Store users expect to see.
Pay, pay, pay
At the time that this review was written, the Fire HD 8 was available at a number of different prices:
- $99.99 for 32GB of storage (supported by lockscreen advertising)
- $114.99 for 32GB of storage (without lockscreen advertising)
- $129.99 for 64GB of storage (supported by lockscreen advertising)
- $144.99 for 64GB of storage (without lockscreen advertising)
For this review, I tested the 64GB ad-supported model. Every time I turned the tablet on, my eye twitched a little. I’m not a fan of seeing advertising on devices or in apps I’ve already paid for. Your mileage may vary.
Additionally, any of the most popular tablets released over the past few years have offered base models that come with 64GB of storage. Considering the growing size of photos, videos, and application files, that’s not a lot of space. Amazon is no doubt aware of this as the Fire HD 8 comes equipped with a MicroSD expansion slot, which can handle MicroSD cards up to 1TB in size. It’s nice to have the option. However, having to purchase extra storage to give your apps and content some breathing room increases the cost of owning this device.
A device designed primarily for consumption should provide a great consumption experience. The Fire HD 8 is … just OK. Its eight-inch 1,280 by 800, 189 PPI (pixels per inch) touchscreen display is clear enough that you won’t end up squinting at it after watching a couple of episodes of Reacher. For comparison, Amazon’s current-generation, base model Kindle (2022) has a display resolution of 300 PPI.
Laggy apps, underwhelming audio
While the Kindle Fire HD 8’s display is adequate for devouring streaming video or a bit of reading, its dual speakers were another story. Music, audiobooks, and other sounds lack presence and sound a little tinny. When companies cut corners to keep the cost of a tablet low, speaker quality is one of the first things to be sacrificed.
The low cost also means a somewhat laggy app experience. Amazon advertises the Fire HD 8 as being 30% faster than its previous incarnation. While I didn’t have the last-generation model on hand to compare it to, I did find that many of the tablet’s pre-installed apps lagged three to four seconds between the time I tapped on them and the time they opened. That’s a long time to wait. However, once opened, the apps ran smoothly.
Should you buy the Brand/Product?
Maybe, if Amazon on a budget is your primary concern
If your home automation is already run by Alexa or you’re deeply invested in Amazon’s music, ebooks, and Amazon Prime, the Amazon Kindle HD 8 is a reasonably inexpensive device that can be used to access it all. That it can also leverage other streaming services, games and a few must-have productivity apps is the icing on the cake.
Given its faults, the Amazon Kindle Fire 8 isn’t for everyone. Having to pay to disable lockscreen ads or a microSD card to unlock a reasonable amount of storage adds to the cost of this tablet. Additionally, there is no baked-in access to Google services or the Google Play Store, as well as disappointing audio quality and an underwhelming display to contend with may leave some better off saving up for a more expensive Android or iPadOS device.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Séamus Bellamy is a senior editor on Reviewed's Electronics Team. When he's not busy ensuring his team's The Best Right Now roundups are up-to-date, he spends his time reviewing, smartwatches, tablets, fringe tech, and writing how-to guides.
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