Amazon has been selling some of the best e-ink-based readers for almost six years now. While their e-ink tablets seem to have evolved, that hasn’t been the case with their regular colored-screen tablets. Amazon has tried everything, from ad-based subsidies to freebies, but their tablet still hasn’t quite taken off. Interestingly, they have not given up but have now created yet another so-called “iPad competitor.
Around a month ago, Amazon made the claim that the new Fire will give Apple’s devices a run for their money. Apparently the new Fire HD 10 was put in a tumble-dryer for up to 200 cycles and it came out just fine, except for a few nicks. The iPad Air 2, on the other hand, broke after 30 cycles and released some dangerous shards of glass. But Apple have never made the claim that their Air 2 was extremely durable or rugged, so we think 30 times is not bad.
Amazon also points out that the Fire HD 10 is cheap. At just under $200, most people wouldn’t expect much, and it certainly doesn’t feel good in the hands. There are creaks in the chassis and you feel as though the tablet is more like a sheet of cheap plastic. Maybe it won’t break easily, but surely you’re not going to be dropping it that often!
One of the better features of the Fire 10 HD is the speakers, that produce good-quality sound, but because they are located on the bottom of the tablet and are not front-facing, it becomes muffled when you lay the unit flat on the table. You could always place something underneath so that the speakers face you directly, but it’s a bit of a lash-up.
The power button has been placed in what many agree is an odd place, on the right-hand corner. It’s barely visible and takes a little getting used to, so don’t be surprised if you cannot lock or turn on the device at your first attempt.
The screen takes an unusually long time to turn on while the quad-core chipset struggles to shake the device out of sleep mode. Though the screen boasts IPS display, it looks to be around 720p at best. According to Amazon it’s 1280×800 resolution, which technically is not HD.
What makes the Amazon Fire 10 HD particularly disappointing is that the company is marketing it as a tablet ideal for multimedia consumption, but with such a low resolution that’s not the case. Anyone with a Samsung Note 4, LG G3, etc. will easily notice the difference in screen sharpness and crispness. Despite the lower price tag, the specs are just too low-end.
One of Amazon’s strengths has always been the availability of great content, but in order to access and enjoy the content you do need an easy and intuitive interface. That, unfortunately, is still not the case. Perhaps the only people this interface will appeal to are those who only want to consume Amazon’s content. If you want to play your own videos, download stuff from other sites or stream videos from Netflix, you will need to dive deep into the innards of the interface, and that’s where everything is buggy and confusing.
The screen is divided into sections for music, video, and audiobooks, with all your recent purchases on the very top. The recommendations are right underneath, though swiping through all the options will take quite some time as it’s quite slow to react. The reason for this is the measly 1GB of RAM.
The good news is that there are a number of free Amazon Underground apps that have no upfront cost. The selection is pretty good, but in all honesty you won’t want to do anything more than play music and watch videos on this gadget. The resolution is a let-down, but the large 10.1 inch screen almost makes up for it. The 16:10 aspect ratio makes for comfortable viewing, unlike Apple’s 4:3 iPad.
The other addition to the family is ‘Word Runner’, which uses the same technique as a number of Smartwatches. It allows you to speed-read by flashing one word at a time, but it feels odd and out of place; It will have a very limited appeal, probably only good if you want to suck up a boring course book.
All the reasons above are why the Amazon Fire 10 HD fails to impress. You get what you pay for, but nowadays you can buy a Chinese tablet for the same price with better specs and a better screen, so why pay for just the Amazon name? Sure, there are a couple of goodies, but only if you have bought into Amazon’s ecosystem. I would suggest that you buy a two-year-old iPad from any reputable seller on eBay for the same money. That way you have a better screen, access to a huge database of apps and great build quality.