The Amazon Fire HD 8 is one of the cheapest tablets you can buy from a recognisable brand. It costs around £79.99, and unlike similarly priced Android slates it’s not completely terrible.
If you consider yourself a tech-head and aren’t buying for someone else, you may want to consider spending a little more. However, the Fire HD 8 is perfect for those with more modest expectations, and easy to recommend to family buyers that aren’t after something as fancy as an iPad.
It’s the perfect way to binge on some Prime content, and the addition of Alexa finally gives it something other tablets simply don’t have.
Amazon Fire HD 8 – Design
One of the best aspects of the Amazon Fire HD 8 is that while it is a cheap tablet, it doesn’t appear instantly dated like some others in this price category. It isn’t thick or heavy, and it doesn’t sport an ultra-wide screen surround that can make a tablet seem bulky and old-fashioned.
Just look at the space to the left and right of the screen; there’s enough room to fit your thumb, but not so much that the Amazon Fire HD 8’s footprint appears much larger than the display at its centre. It’s a little thicker than the last Fire HD 8 at 9.2mm, however.
Its build is solid for the price. There’s just the tiniest bit of casing flex under significant hand pressure and the display doesn’t distort when you press down on the front.
The top-most part of the plastic casing does move inwards by about a millimetre under finger pressure, but this is more likely to be the battery cover. While non-removable, it’s mostly there to look nice and take the brunt of any impact; the real structure of the Amazon Fire HD 8 is inside.
I’m looking at the red version of the Amazon Fire HD 8. It’s a pleasant shade and has a textured finish that both looks and feels better than glossy plastic. The tablet is also available in a wide array of hues, including a vivid new yellow that I have a soft spot for.
The Fire HD 8 succeeds in a manner that sounds like an insult: it isn’t rubbish. However, I’ve used many sub-£100 tablets over the years that are, frankly, rubbish – and a constant reminder that you opted to cheap out.
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Despite its price, there are areas where the Fire HD 8 impresses. For example, it includes 16GB storage and there’s a 32GB model available, too. This was ample to allow for me to install a handful of data-greedy games; many sub-£150 tablets provide only 8GB. The Fire HD 8 also has a microSD slot on the side, an important extra if you want load up some movies for a long plane journey.
Amazon has tried to make a tablet that isn’t going to disappoint buyers quickly. I don’t think many of you will feel let down by its build, or become irritated by the amount of storage space with which you have to play.
Amazon Fire HD 8 – Screen
The screen, however, may put a few folk off. Its specs are basic, as is the case with all the lower-cost Fire tablets, but what is most evident is the lack of display contrast in a well-lit room.
The screen is highly reflective, making blacks appear quite grey. This isn’t the usual symptom of the LCD screen’s backlight showing through, but is a result of the different layers of the screen’s structure reflecting a small amount of ambient light.
As such, the Amazon Fire HD 8 will look quite low energy compared with your smartphone, unless you increase the screen brightness by quite some margin; this will make the contrast seem better. There’s no Auto brightness setting here, so you have to make any alterations manually.
Amazon is hyping up the new IPS panel used here, which should be improvement over the previous model. Yet, the difference seems very minor and while viewing angles are marginally better it’s not the most noticeable switch.
Other parts of the Amazon Fire HD 8 screen are perfectly fine for the £90 price. 1,280 x 800 pixels spread across 8 inches doesn’t look super-sharp, but the software does a good enough job of smoothing out fonts so they don’t appear ugly.
This is one area where the more gadget-savvy among you may be disappointed, given that Amazon calls this an “HD” tablet. It’s only just sharp enough to avoid looking awful, and small fonts in the browser are unflatteringly pixellated.
How good colours appear will depend on how liberal you are with the brightness slider. The contrast-sapping screen style makes colours appear quite low-energy until you jack up the backlight. However, in isolation colours are actually respectable; they’re not anaemic.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 display goes pretty bright too, which is handy to combat all those screen reflections if you’re going to use it outdoors.