- Low screen resolution
- Cheap-looking design
- No access to Google Play
- So-so battery life
- Entry-level performance
- Bad camera quality
Amazon has constantly challenged perceptions of value and offered rock-bottom pricing for their entry-level tablets. With the Amazon Fire HD 10, they’re taking the price war to the bigger side of the tablet market. But cost isn’t everything.
Does this 10-inch tablet cut too many corners to meet its budget or is it a sign of the future pricing of large entertainment-oriented slates? We’ve analyzed the best review sites available to get a good look at what everyone thinks. Let’s see what they’re saying!
Out of the box, the Fire HD 10’s budget roots show. Every review was quick to mention the basic design and plastic body. But many were quick to mention how light and comfortable the tablet was after the initial barrage of plastic.
If you’re used to the iPad series or other tablets running a more traditional 4:3 resolution, you might find the design of this one a bit different at first. SlashGear notes that it felt, “both narrow and oddly long, and the wide bezels - ironically even thicker on the top and bottom when you're looking at the tablet in portrait orientation - don't do that sense of unwieldiness any favors.”
However, all reviewers noted that despite the plastic, there was little flex, noise or otherwise flimsy craftsmanship. According to Amazon, it is also able to resist the drops and dings of life better as well--though no reviews we found put this claim to the test. CNet summed up opinions on the design well, saying, “To be sure, the design is one of its weakest aspects, but considering it's a tablet meant for entertainment rather than productivity, the playful aesthetic all kind of makes sense in a way.”
Heading to the front of the tablet, you’ll find the 10.9-inch IPS display. At a resolution of 800-by-1280, it’s far from the best resolution available--though it’s respectable for the price point. Reviews on the display are diverse. Nearly all applauded the color and brightness of the screen. Laptop Magazine noted that they were “impressed with the color fidelity.”
However, the resolution combined with the size of the screen was a recipe for complaints. Trusted Reviews noted, “The resolution is extremely low for a tablet of this size and price. With 149ppi density, the blockiness is obvious. You don’t need to be a tablet critic to notice it.” If you’re planning to read often or use this tablet to browse the web, you might run into issues. However, most reviews said that games and video looked fine.
Performance is equally mixed. With the quad-core 1.5Ghz MediaTek processor, the tablet isn’t designed to be a power user’s device. Add in only 1GB of RAM, and multitasking isn’t great either. For the casual games or basic use, reviews indicate that it performs well--albeit a little choppy at times. Trusted Reviews states, “While lag is not catastrophic, performance regularly slows.”
Fortunately, much of this seems to be helped by Amazon’s FireOS. While technically an Android Tablet, the Fire HD 10--like other Fire Tablets--runs Amazon’s heavily-modified version of Android. The latest version on this tablet streamlines the interface and puts suggestions and sections for books, movies, games and other content at your fingertips. Laptop Magazine notes, “Overall, I found Fire OS to be better than ever for searching through all my Amazon stuff, but there are still aspects of the interface that feel dated when compared to regular Android.” Good E-Reader calls FireOS 5 the “best entertainment experience on a tablet.”
One of the biggest limitations to FireOS is that it doesn’t allow out-of-the-box access to Google Play or the common Google Services often found on Android. However, the Amazon Appstore includes many of the most popular apps and even includes some free offerings you won’t find anywhere else.
To help you manage all of your apps, music and videos, the tablet features either 16 or 32GB of internal storage. If you need more space, the microSD card slot provides support for cards up to 128GB in capacity. Amazon Prime subscribers can even store Prime content to the card for long commutes, road trips or weekends away.
Unfortunately, if you’re looking to take pictures of said weekend away, you probably won’t want to do it with your tablet. While the tablet includes a 5MP rear camera and a 720p front-facing lens, Good E-Readers declares, “On both sides, you’ll get better performance from your phone. Unless you have a really bad, really old phone.” SlashGear wasn’t much nicer, saying, “Blurred close-ups and a tendency to blow-out brighter areas don't inspire much confidence.” Across the board, reviews of the camera features offered little love.
But there are a few areas where reviews agree the tablet shines. The first is the audio experience. Dual speakers--located on the bottom edge of the device when held in landscape orientation--tweaked by Dolby Atmos were a hit with everyone. Just keep in mind the price of the tablet. Trusted Reviews says, “While sound quality isn’t amazing, it is rather good for an entry-level tablet.”
Another strong point is the parental controls. With everything from monitoring the time apps are used to limiting access by time or whether or not the kids have read for the day, Amazon’s parental controls are second-to-none. Laptop Magazine tried out the controls and said, “If you don't want to risk your kid destroying your iPad, the Fire HD 10 and its parental-control software could be a good alternative.”
Finally, if you ever find yourself in need of assistance, Amazon’s Mayday Assistance connects you quickly with a representative. Screen sharing and video chat allow them to walk you step by step through resolving the problem or helping you find what you might need.
Overall, it would seem that the verdict on the Amazon Fire HD 10 depends on what you’re looking for in a tablet and whether you’re willing to commit to the Amazon ecosystem. It’s not cutting-edge, reviews indicate that it can be a little slow and the screen isn’t ideal for text.
SlashGear summarized the device well, saying, “Like other Amazon tablets before it, the Fire HD 10 only really makes sense if you're immersed - or willing to be - in the retailer's ecosystem, though. Kindle ebooks, Prime video, and the Amazon Appstore are so tightly interwoven into the slate, while it may be possible to supplant them with third-party alternatives, the resulting experience underwhelms.”