The Amazon Fire HD 10 is the big daddy of the new low-cost Fire tablet range. Slates this large have fallen out of favour now that every company out there seems to have made a great 8-inch tablet.
Be sure to check out the Fire HD 8 if you’re after something smaller. Amazon says it thinks this larger version will be better for video, though, perhaps for those who don’t want to watch soap X the rest of the family are currently simmering to on TV.
I can’t imagine the Amazon Fire HD 10 fitting into a much techier scene. Its almost absurdly low screen resolution just doesn’t cut it for eyes that have already gazed onto a bunch of tablets, killing the appeal of the extra screen space. At £169 (£179 without ads) it’s not as though it costs pennies either.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 has a large footprint. These days a lot of the tablets I review are a few inches smaller than this, simply because they’ve proved more popular than the ‘classic’ 10.1-inch style seen here.
Use the Amazon Fire HD 10 for a few minutes and it’s not hard to see why. 10-inch tablets are really too big to use on the train or bus without feeling silly.
If you’re after a home tablet or among the lucky few to get a seat on the train every single morning, this tablet is at least very thin and light. It’s just 7.7mm thick and weighs 432g. That’s 5g lighter than the iPad Air 2.
Why am I making these size criticisms when we might not say the same about an iPad Air 2? The Amazon Fire HD 10 is a widescreen tablet, with a 16:10 aspect. Large widescreen tablets always feels a bit awkward in portable terms, their shape and weight balance being that bit harder to manage than a large 4:3 tablet like the iPad Air 2.
In summary: Keep it at home.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 design seems to care at least as much about making the tablet easy to manufacture as trying to impress your fingers. It has some of the classic traits of cheapo no-brand tablets. All the controls and primary sockets are laid along one edge, the top one, for example.
This helps reduce prodution costs, but it’s not hugely practical in use. When held upright it means they’re out of easy reach, and when held landscape it means your hand will always rest over either the power or volume buttons.
That whiff of budget compromise is a common theme here. While there’s a metal frame inside the Amazon Fire HD 10 that helps stop it flexing — and under normal hand pressure it doesn’t flex at all — on the outside it’s covered in ultra-glossy plastic, aside from the textured sides.
As well as looking and feeling a bit cheap, the plastic picks up fingerprints readily and will do the same with scratches unless you’re very careful. The difficult part to swallow here is that the Amazon Fire HD 10 is on the cusp of being a not-that-cheap tablet.
It costs at least £169.99 (16GB), creeping up to £209.99 if you want the 32GB version without ‘special offers’. These are ads for Amazon content that appear when the tablet is in standby, but the screen isn’t off entirely.
The upgrade to 32GB isn’t a must, though, because there’s a microSD slot on the Amazon Fire HD 10’s side.
It would be easier to forgive the little ergonomic and ‘feel’ issues if the screen hadn’t also been battered with the budget stick too. It’s a 10.1-inch 1,280 x 800 pixel IPS LCD screen.
No prizes for guessing the main complaint: 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.
iPads haven’t been this blocky since 2011.
Other aspects of the Amazon Fire HD 10 display are a lot better. The IPS panel provides good viewing angles and the colours aren’t too bad.
It almost seems misleading to talk about the positives too much, though, as the screen is characterised, even defined, but its low resolution.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 also lacks an ambient light sensor, meaning you have to manually adjust the brightness as needed. Most decent tablets have an Auto mode that alters the backlight intensity as needed. This one doesn’t.
Being a home tablet, the Amazon Fire HD 10 doesn’t have many extra connectivity features either. There’s no mobile internet option, and no NFC. I'm not too bothered about missing these.
It would have been nice if Amazon had added an IR transmitter, though. These are used in phones and tablets to let you control your Blu-ray player, TV and so on.