(Pocket-lint) - Amazon's Fire tablets continue to offer a popular alternative to the iPad, and with the choices of Android tablets reducing over the past few years, the Fire family has offered affordable tablets that do just about everything you need.
Amazon's most recent updates to this line is the Fire HD 8 and 8 Plus, sprucing up the mid-sized tablets and fully detailed below.
With three different-sized tablets in the offering, there is a decision to be made about which tablet best suits your needs. Is the size worth the increase in price, and exactly what do you get for your money?
Amazon Fire tablet design
- Fire 7: 115 x 192 x 9.6mm, 286g
- Fire HD 8: 202 x 137 x 9.7mm, 335g
- Fire HD 8 Plus: 202 x 137 x 9.7mm, 355g
- Fire HD 10: 262 x 159 x 9.8mm, 504g
The Fire tablets are designed to be sturdy, offering plastic backs in a range of colours. The sizes and weights step up progressively as you'd expect along with the size of the display on offer. The Fire HD 8 and 8 Plus are the same size, but the 8 Plus is a little heavier.
The build quality is very much the same across all the devices, with flat backs and a bezel around the display that gives you plenty of space to grip the tablet.
The Fire 7 comes in black, sage, plum and blue, the Fire 8 HD is available in black, blue, plum and white. The Fire HD 8 Plus is only available in slate.
The HD 10 is available black, plum, twilight blue and white. All the tablets have a range of cases and covers available to provide additional protection. The Fire 8 HD Plus is also compatible with the Wireless Charging Dock, so you can use it in Echo Show Mode.
Amazon Fire tablet display
- Fire 7: 7-inch, 1024 x 600 pixels, 171ppi
- Fire HD 8: 8-inch, 1280 x 800 pixels, 189ppi
- Fire HD 8 Plus: 8-inch, 1280 x 800 pixels, 189ppi
- Fire HD 10: 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200 pixels, 224ppi
The Fire 7 has a 1024 x 600-pixel resolution display, which equates to 171ppi across its 7-inches.
The 8-inch model has a 1280 x 800-pixel resolution, which comes out at 189ppi. Again, this is a boosted display compared to previous versions of this tablet so has reasonable contrast and clarity, with a slight boost in pixel density over the Fire 7, although there's very little difference other than the size.
The 10-inch model makes a bigger step to 1920 x 1200 pixels, which is 224ppi. This is quite a bit sharper than both the smaller tablets as well as giving you 2 inches more on the diagonal. If it's a larger size you crave, then go for the Fire HD 10.
This is also a Full HD display, offering greater potential to show you richer details so the experience is better as a result - especially when watching video.
Amazon Fire tablet hardware
- Fire 7: 1.3GHz quad-core, 1GB RAM, 16/32GB storage + microSD (512GB)
- Fire HD 8: 2.0GHz quad-core, 2GB RAM, 32/64GB storage + microSD (1TB)
- Fire HD 8 Plus: 2.0GHz quad-core, 3GB RAM, 32/64GB storage + microSD (1TB)
- Fire HD 10: 2GHz octo-core, 2GB RAM, 32/64GB storage + microSD (512GB)
- Fire HD 8 and HD 10 offer Dolby Atmos sound
When it comes to the internal specs, there's a difference in the power that you'll get from the Fire tablets.
These tablets get incrementally faster, with the Fire 7 having a 1.3GHz quad-core processor. The Fire HD 8 and the Fire HD 8 Plus both have a 2.0GHz quad-core processor, so will be a little faster than the Fire 7. The Fire HD 10 upgrades to an octa-core 2.0GHz chip, likely to be a little more power-efficient.
In terms of RAM, the Fire 7 offers 1GB RAM while the Fire HD 8 steps it up to 2GB. The Fire HD 10 has 2GHz as well, but the model with the most RAM is the Fire HD 8 Plus, with 3GB.
All models have microSD support for storage expansion up to 512GB, as well as free unlimited cloud storage for Amazon content, except the Fire HD 8 models, which now support up to 1TB of external storage - that's a lot of downloads! These tablets fill very fast, so a microSD card is well worth hunting down.
In terms of internal memory, however, the Fire 7 is offered at 16GB and 32GB, while the HD 8, HD 8 Plus and HD 10 comes in 32 or 64GB options.
The battery life on the Fire 7 comes in at 7 hours; the Fire HD 8 and 8 Plus claim 12 hours of battery life, while the HD 10 has 12 hours. The Fire HD 8 models and the Fire HD 10 have USB-C, while the Fire 7 still has Micro-USB for charging.
The Fire HD 8 Plus makes itself different by also offering wireless charging. This works with Qi-standard chargers (5W) and will work with the Wireless Charging Dock (10W), which will charge it to 80 per cent in less than 2 hours.
All the tablets offer dual-band Wi-Fi, there's no 4G LTE offering on any of the models. The Fire 7 has a mono speaker, while the HD 8 models and HD 10 both offer "Dolby Atmos" stereo speakers, meaning sound quality is better on the larger models, with much more pronounced stereo separation and better high volume fidelity when watching videos.
In terms of camera performance, all the fire models have 2-megapixel cameras on the front and the rear.
Amazon Fire software
- Fire OS
- Alexa available on all devices
The Fire tablets all run Amazon's skewed version of Android for a unique experience that's bespoke to Amazon's needs. You're served by the Amazon Appstore, with seamless integration with Amazon's content, Kindle Books, as well as Music and Video. For Prime members, there's a whole world of content that you have access to, and that's before you get to do your shopping.
These tablets also tap into Alexa's skills. You'll be able to control your home and ask questions of Alexa through your tablet and get the answers served up as cards, or via voice.
All these devices also support Alexa hands-free. With this, you can just speak to the tablet and Alexa will respond. That means you can use it in the kitchen for example, without having to use your hands in the same way you'd use the Amazon Echo.
You can also turn these tablets into an Echo Show, thanks to the Show Mode. For the Fire HD 8 Plus, there's a Wireless Charging Dock that will enable this. For some older Fire tablets, there has been a Show Mode Dock, although this now appears to be hard to find.
Amazon Fire price: Which is the best model?
The Amazon Fire 7 is one of the most affordable tablets you'll find and it's perfect for those who might break it - like kids - although do also consider the Fire Kids Edition too. The Kids Edition gets a bumper, 2-year warranty and 1-year subscription to Fire for Kids Unlimited. Fire 7 is the least powerful and still has an old Micro-USB connection on it.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 is great value for money, giving you more space and a better display than the Fire 7, but still at a really attractive price. It sits in an appealing position, offering portability, excellent battery life as well as great sound. The latest update means plenty of power and more storage at your disposal.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus adds in wireless charging, a convenient technology if you already have a Qi charger in your house. It's also compatible with a dock, so it's ultra-convenient to use in the kitchen as a display, an Echo Show alternative with Alexa and as a tablet you and grab and take away for entertainment.
The Fire HD 10 adds to the appeal with a larger display that's sharper so it's better for consuming video on the move, giving you more space for Zoom conferences and anything else where you need more screen. It also has power and plenty of storage, with decent battery life.