Amazon’s bigger, 8in HD version of its rock-bottom tablet, the Fire HD 8, has always played second fiddle to the £50 Fire 7, but not any more.
Fatter, heavier but cheaper
Unlike the new Fire 7 tablet, the 2017 Fire HD 8 is actually thicker and heavier than the previous version, weighing 28g more and being 0.5mm thicker at just under 1cm deep.
Side-by-side with 2015’s Fire HD 8 it’s hard to see any difference. The outside is still hardwearing plastic, the sides and corners still rounded, but now it comes in a collection of bright colours.
Amazon claims it’s twice as durable as Apple’s iPad mini 4 and it certainly feels like it could take a knock or two without much issue. At 369g, it weighs as much as a large paperback.
One of the best bits about the Fire HD 8 is its speakers, which are mounted in the side (or top if held in landscape orientation) and produce fairly good, clear and loud audio, for a tablet. They were pretty good for watching a TV show while cooking, and make using Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa – which is now built into the tablet – much more like the experience you might get from an Echo Dot than the tinny speaker of the Fire 7.
The 8in, 720p screen is good but not great. Text is crisper than on the Fire 7, but still not up to the standards you might expect of a modern smartphone or premium tablet. It has good viewing angles, solid colours and is bright enough to be watched indoors, but struggles a bit outdoors.
I found reading on it surprisingly good though it’s nowhere near as clear and sharp as an e-reader. The integrated Blue Shade feature helps keep reading at night comfortable by reducing brightness and the amount of blue light emitted by the screen.
Screen: 8in (1280 x 800) LCD (189ppi)
Processor: 1.3GHz quad-core
RAM: 1.5GB of RAM
Storage: 16GB; microSD slot also available
Operating system: Fire OS 5 based on Android 5 Lollipop
Camera: 2MP rear camera, 0.3MP front-facing camera
Connectivity: Wi-Fi n, Bluetooth
Dimensions: 214 x 128 x 9.7 mm
A day’s battery
The new Fire HD 8 has the same 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 1.5GB of RAM as the last one, and performs similarly. It will handle most apps and games perfectly fine, if with slightly longer load times and slower frame rates than you might be used to on a top-end smartphone.
It is not what I would call snappy, but the Fire HD 8 scrolled, launched apps and switched between apps without any moments of lag that made me question whether I actually tapped a button or not.
With the brightness set at around 70%, the Fire HD 8 easily lasted long enough between charges to view three movies with a bit of light internet use in between and battery to spare. Playing games hurt the battery life a bit more, as did setting the brightness to max, but all in you’ll get around a day’s usage out of the HD 8. Charging it took forever, though, at around six hours, so best done overnight.