Amazon Fire HD 10
Amazon launched a new line of their Fire tablets just in time for the holidays, but I'm just now getting the chance to check out their biggest one, the Fire HD 10. Come inside to check out my review of their latest device to see if it's worth picking up (if you didn't get it under your tree this year).
To be entirely honest, I don't have much experience with tablets. During their first few years of existence they felt like little more than a novelty, but as the technology has progressed, they seem more useful than ever before. So when Amazon offered me the chance to check out their Fire HD 10, I thought it was a great chance to catch up with the rest of the world.
What's most striking about this new tablet is its size. It stands tall at 10 inches, and it's skinny to boot which is uniquely perfect for it's primary purpose. While it does a great many things (as any tablet does), there's no doubt that this is geared towards media consumption. While you can use the tablet in portrait or landscape mode, it becomes obvious fairly quickly that landscape is the way Amazon wants you to use it. It's the most ideal position for its aspect ratio of 16:10 and works best for watching movies or shows.
The resolution isn't exactly eye-popping, however, sitting at 1280x800. Many other reviewers and users out there have remarked on this fact before, and there's some reason for that. I'm not saying the picture on the tablet is horrible. For just about everything I did, I thought it worked incredibly well. That smaller pixel ratio spread out over such a big screen makes things less crisp and clear as you'd like. Again, it's not BAD, but while watching movies and playing games things did seem a little fuzzier than you'd normally like. On the whole, however, most things still look good when you're watching on the tablet. There's not big artifacts or crushing that ruins the viewing experience, so it's easy to overlook.
The speakers in the tablet are surprisingly powerful, offering up some impressive sound when you're listening to movies or playing games. Even though they're located on the side of the tablet, where they can be muffled easier, I've not had any problems hearing things on the tablet. Hell, it doesn't even have to be turned up very high in order to sound good. The majority of the time I keep the volume at about 25%, so as not to disturb anyone, and it's still plenty clear without straining. Since the speakers are on alternate sides of the tablet, they also do a pretty great job of giving providing a stereo experience, making movies/shows sound like they should without being entirely flat.
Performance-wise, the HD 10 has upgraded the Fire OS that so many had complained of before. It's more evocative of a more traditional Android set-up, so if you're acustomed to that system vai phone or other tablet, you'll feel much more at home. Movies, games, photos etc all run smoothly, though downloading seems to take longer than it should (and Heaven help you if you want to do stuff WHILE downloading). It's a little sluggish at times as you move about the tablet itself, but there seem to be no issues at all when it comes to actually USING apps. It's kind of odd, but makes me believe the sluggishness has more to do with the OS, than processing power.
If you're big into reading (like my nerdy self) and want to use your tablet as a Kindle reader as well, the HD 10 works wonderfully well for that. The screen is comfortable to read on, and a simple tap allows you to change pages with ease. Due to it's tall size, it actually felt pretty approximate to reading a regular hardcover book. One of the biggest deterents to digital readers for me has been how much smaller they are than regular books. I'm set in my ways, I admit that, but the Fire HD 10 makes the size factor a non-issue. While the feel is still different, it LOOKED like I was reading a regular book page, something that made it infinitely easier for me to adjust to.
Durability is always something to be aware of when picking up a tablet. After all, you don't want to fork over that much money just to have it break from some moderate use. The good news is, the Amazon Fire HD 10 is really solid and rugged enough to stand up to some serious usage. If you're sharing with kiddos (which can often be the case) it's not going to break easy. It can handle itself. The bad is, the HD 10 doesn't LOOK like it can handle itself. It feels a little plasticy and is an absolute magnet for fingerprints. That's something easily fixed with a case/cover, however, so it's not as big a deal as it could be. It's rugged enough to deal with most of what you can throw at it (Amazon markets it as being stronger than the others), even if it doesn't look like it can.
The Prime Factor
The Fire HD 10 seems best when paired up with an Amazon Prime account, which gives you access to thousands of movies and TV shows. Of course, it now includes music and certain books int aht fold as well. I've long been a proponent of Amazon Prime, and think it's a wonderful service. Coupling that with Netflix and their Fire TV, I was able to cut the cable cord, and be pretty damn satisfied. Having the tablet to go with it, only adds to that experience, as it's now easier than ever to enjoy content whenever, or wherever I want.
If you have Amazon Prime already (and you really should, or at least give their 30 day trial a whirl), the HD tablet is a great way to get the most out of it. All your movies and games are right at your fingertips, made even better by their recent Amazon Underground, which offers up premium games for free.
Sure, you can get Amazon content on iOS or Android these days, but it’s really refined and easy from Amazon’s own tablet. It’s integrated from the start, and the tablet is built around their own content, making it the easiest, and potentially best, way to consume media.
It has a bunch of handy apps, though it can be a pain to find everything, and is an exceptionally functional tablet that's great for all your media needs. It's a great asset with Amazon Prime that's sturdily built with some solid speakers. Personally speaking, between kids and all the media I enjoy, I have found a TON of use for the Amazon tablet, but if you're looking for something that's more for work purposes, you might be better off with something else.