Amazon needs no introductions. Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) is their latest offering in the tablet category. It is promoted as a very affordable solution that is mostly targeted to Amazon’s fully fledged online services. We are reviewing today the successor to the older Fire HD10 model.
Packaging – Specifications
Fire HD 10 arrived in a very original packaging imitating a casual shopping bag. Of course it comes with Amazon’s colors, mostly orange and black. We had fears regarding the tablet’s safety, but our unit arrived in pristine condition.
Inside you will find the tablet, the wall type charger, a USB cable and basic documents promoting all of Amazon’s main services.
The specifications list shows that the Fire HD10 tablet belongs to the lower mid-range category. Amazing, considering the low price (150$/179€).
Mediatek’s quad core MT8173 (2×1.8 GHz Cortex A72 cores and 2×1.4 GHz Cortex-A53 ones) will handle all tasks you will serve alongside with PowerVR’s G6250 GPU for all graphic intensive ones. 2GB of RAM are enough for all popular applications and our unit arrived with 32GB of ROM. A more expensive 64GB ROM version exists in case you need more storage space. You can also use the microSD slot (up to 256GB, tested OK with a 128GB card) for extra storage space.
The tablet’s screen is probably its best feature. Long gone is the HD resolution of its predecessor since now it is equipped with a gorgeous 1920×1200 panel. We would prefer a 4/3 screen size ratio (that is better for reading e-books) but we can’t complain at this price point.
The dual Dolby stereo landscape speakers complement the tablet’s multimedia capabilities.
A basic dual camera setup is included with a 2MP main camera and a standard VGA front one for selfies and video conference use. 720p video recording is supported as well.
Dual band Wi-Fi was a nice surprise (it is actually mandatory for Amazon’s video streaming services), just like the BT4.1 module with A2DP and LE support.
No GPS sensor is installed.
There is no official word on the battery size although there are references for a 3830mAh kit.
Amazon uses its own Fire OS user interface that is based on Google’s Android 5.1 version.
Tablet – Screen – Speakers
Amazon Fire HD 10 housing is basic with no thrills in the design department excluding the orange colored variant. The plastic build feels very solid though and inspires confidence. Since it is on the heavy side (500g) it would be wise to buy a case for any accidental drops.
The tablet is thick (9.8mm) with fairly large bezels that at least make you feel more secure while holding it. Button layout is a little unorthodox since all power on/off and the up/down volume buttons are located on the top side (portrait mode) alongside the headphone jack and the microUSB charging slot. The only thing you will find on the right side is the microSD flap, and on the left the stereo speakers. The bottom side is clean.
Screen quality is really good for the price. The IPS screen provides wide angles for better viewing with very pleasing colors. The 1200p resolution (223ppi) is very sharp and will not disappoint both in text reading or movie viewing use. The colors could be more accurate (there are no color modes to select from) and the maximum brightness could be higher, but any better panel would lead to an increased purchase price not really desired by Amazon. There is no word on any type of screen protection (Corning Gorilla Glass?) so a tempered glass protector should be installed on day one.
Speaker performance is solid. The sound is kind of “thin” but the stereo effect makes up for it when you want to watch a film or play video games in landscape mode. Maximum volume could be higher though since it cannot match the levels found of both Lenovo (Tab3 and Tab4 models) and NVidia Shield K1 tablets.
Android- Menus – Settings
To begin with, there is no Android, just Fire OS. To be more precise, Amazon chose to wipe clean anything that had to do with Google’s Play Store or any type of Google services. Let’s not forget that Amazon and Google are not the best buddies since there are conflicting interests on major services like in video (Amazon Video vs Google Play Movies) and music (Amazon music vs Google Play Music) among others (Video games). Instead, Amazon has its own store which, although has significantly lesser content compared to Play Store, will surely cover all your basic needs.
In case Google’s Play Store is important to you, there are ways to install it unofficially. The procedure is relatively easy and hassle free.
Amazon’s Fire OS basic launcher is tailor made for all of its online services. The main screen consists of nine tabs (For You, Home, Books, Video, Games, Apps, Music, Audible and newsstand), with all of them leading to an Amazon related service with the exception of Home tab which serves as the application drawer.
The settings menu is basic and simple. There are three main categories, Device, Personal and System, in which you will easily find everything you need in no time. Compared to other tablets, there are advanced settings for parental controls and family profiles.
The only “downside” is that the current Fire OS is based on Android 5.1. The lollipop version is still relevant but it is already three generations older than the current one (Android 8.0 named as Oreo). The good thing is that Amazon continues to update the device.
There is no option to install a 3rd party launcher (like Nova Launcher). The Fire OS one is uniquely integrated to the operating system.
Amazon Fire HD 10 is not rooted, as expected.
The Fire HD 10 tablet performed way better that what we had hoped for. User interface browsing is lag-less and application launching is fast. The Mediatek MT8173 SoC proved to be very capable for applications, games and streaming services. Benchmarks showed higher overall performance than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625. Not too bad at all!
KODI performance (once of course you install Google’s Play Store) was very good with perfect playback of high bit-rate 1080p material. Via Wi-Fi streaming of average bit-rate files was also possible. Just make sure your access point can provide a good Dual Band signal.
Same can be said for Netflix and Amazon Video. Make sure you have a good Wi-Fi signal and you will have no problem streaming 1080p content to your tablet.
Music playback of all types is problem-free, just as expected. The headphone jack output is totally acceptable. Low sensitivity headphones (planars) should be avoided since the maximum volume reached is not adequate.
Gaming is more than decent. PowerVR G6250 does a fine job even with 3D titles. Only the most demanding 3D games will cause minor lags.
RAM and ROM modules are also top-notch since we got extremely good benchmark results, especially from the RAM module. No wonder why operating system’s response is so good.
Camera – Battery Life
The camera setup is just mediocre, if not bad. The main camera at the back produces only results that can be used for social media. Even with proper lighting, there is too much grain resulting in photos that shouldn’t be produced by a 2017 tablet. HDR mode is supported but you will have to shoot still objects and wait for a long time for the final image. Much wiser to turn it off right from the start.
Far worse can be said for the front camera that can be practically used only for video chat services of low expectations.
Video recording is also supported at a 720p resolution. Once again, use it only if there is no other option available.
Battery life performance is way better. Although the 3830mAh battery seems short in comparison to other tablets (the 8 inch Lenovo Tab4 Plus has a 4800mAh battery), we got almost 9 hours in combined casual web browsing, You-Tube and Spotify/Amazon Music playback. The thing that impressed us most was the practically non-existent battery drain. After a full charge and during night-time, we found the battery level at 99% with Wi-Fi on. Very impressive results for an Android based device.
Fast charging is not supported, with a full charge taking almost five hours. Since its battery life can sure last the day, just make sure to charge it during night-time.
Alexa – Amazon Services
Alexa voice assistant could not be absent from an Amazon device. Its integration with the rest of the Amazon services and peripherals is unique and works almost flawlessly. You have the option to disable it but there is no reason at all to do so. The option to address to Alexa directly without any kind of initializing (pressing a key first etc.) is also very practical.
All of Amazon’s services are integrated to the device in form of a dedicated application. You can insert your (Amazon) account with your credit card and rest assured that everything will roll out just fine; from payments to content viewing. Books, movies and music can be archived/categorized by your liking and be accessed really fast.
If you need Amazon services, then the Fire HD 10 tablet is the one for you. It has the proper size for a more enjoyable experience compared to the 8inch version.
We should mention at this point that there are two versions for the Fire HD 10. The “special offers” version and the normal one. The “special offers” version has Amazon advertisements on the lock screen. They are not distracting and do not appear anywhere else on the device. The “special offers” versions are almost 15$/€ cheaper than the normal ones. Do the math and choose the version that suits you best.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017 edition) is a capable tablet on its own. Sure, Google Play is missing but it is very easy to install and the Amazon App Store has a lots of applications and games for all basic needs (and maybe more).
It is tailor-made for Amazon services, but that is not a deal breaker after all since no one is forcing you to use them.
The best thing on Fire HD 10 is its price. Starting from 149$/179€ you get a lot of performance for the money you pay. The performance is very good and the same can be said for the screen, the Wi-Fi and the speakers. The only real downside is the camera performance (both of them) but let’s be honest, we don’t usually see people using their tablets for quality photos, right?
Fire HD 10 (2017 Edition) is the best and most affordable way to not only get a very good 10-inch (Android) tablet, but to also have perfect Amazon services support.
If you are out for a branded tablet, then definitely look out for the Amazon Fire HD 10.
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