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Amazon Fire HD 10: A Capable Budget Tablet

The Fire HD 10 is the largest tablet offered by Amazon. Its spacious 10.1″ large display has a lot of potential to appeal to those who don’t like the cramped feeling of smaller tablets. This in-depth review will cover all basic aspects of this device and give you all information you might need in order to make an informed purchasing decision.

Design and Build

Amazon has always strived to make their devices simple and highly functional. There is definitely something to like about this unassuming approach to design that elevates form over function while still preserving a certain elegance and style. Indeed, the Fire HD 10 tablet is no different.

It’s instantly apparent that this tablet was designed with heavy use in mind. The simple, black body is dominated by a large Amazon logo on the back. The black finish has a deep shine to it and unsurprisingly attracts fingerprints like a magnet. At 432 grams, the tablet feels quite comfortable in hands, which can be definitely attributed to spacious bezels. All buttons are placed in such a way that they are easily accessible no matter how you hold the tablet.

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Most tablet manufacturers are adopting 4:3 aspect ratio, however, the Fire HD 10 uses a more cinematic 16:10 ratio. This makes the tablet feel very tall when held in a portrait mode. It’s easy to get used to after you spend some time with this tablet, but if you are coming from a tablet with less rectangular shape, you will probably not feel very comfortable for at least a few hours.

The rear camera is placed in the top right corner, far away from your hands. The only time when the camera position can become a problem is when you hold the tablet in a landscape orientation and attempt to adjust volume since the volume rocker is directly above the camera.

Speakers are placed on the bottom of the tablet and provide a fairly good sound. We would definitely prefer to see a front-mounted speakers, but the included ones are more than sufficient in most situations. Even their stereo separation is comparable to higher-end tablets.

As far as the quality of materials is concerned, the whole tablet seems to be very solid with only minor material flex. This is only accentuated by its thin profile. The Fire HD 10 is just 7.7mm thick, which is just two millimeters more than the original iPad Air.

Screen

As the name would suggest, the Fire HD 10 uses 10.1 inches large display with 16:10 aspect ratio. The display achieves excellent viewing angles and high contrast ratio with a combination of IPS technology and an advanced polarising filter. As such, the display is perfectly readable even under direct sunlight, which makes it fantastic for outdoor use.

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Sadly, this is also where the good news ends. Why is that? Because Amazon decided to use only 1280 x 800 resolution. This resolution feels absolutely inadequate when compared to modern displays with 300+ ppi. Other affordable tablets, such as Acer Iconia Tab 10, have a modern 1920 x 1200-pixel displays that make Fire HD 10 feel antiquated in comparison.

Browsing the web is uncomfortable, to say the least. The same can be said about ebook reading and instant messaging. If you own a smartphone with a high-definition display, you will dread going back to your Fire HD 10, as everything looks jagged and pixelated.

Amazon clearly targets non-technical people and those who don’t care about resolution due to poor eyesight. We are not sure how smart decision this is. This tablet would make for a fantastic family entertainment device that could be passed around the house as it has something to offer to everyone. However, younger family members would probably get quickly tired of staring at the tablet’s very large display that has more than two times less pixels per inch than their compact smartphones.

Amazon’s own Fire HD 6 and 8 have the exact same resolution, and the Fire HD 8 even shares the same hardware as the Fire HD 10. Both tablets cost a lot less and give customers the same access to books, TV shows, and movies. The final decision will then be based solely on the screen-size itself. We think that the small resolution is a missed opportunity to capture a much wider audience.

Camera

The Fire HD 10 features a front-facing 720p camera for Skype and self-portraits and a 5 MP rear-facing camera capable of shooting 1080p video.

The built-in camera application lets you customize many exposure parameters, such as white balance, auto exposure, sharpness, color balance, and many others.

Unfortunately, neither one of these cameras is capable of producing pictures of decent quality. We have tested both cameras under different lighting conditions and our results were always the same. All pictures turned out to be blurry, noisy and lacked in contrast and tonal accuracy.

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The poor image quality as a result of a slow camera software and underwhelming camera sensors. Focusing takes a long time and fails to produce reliable results unless you shoot during extremely good lighting conditions. Pictures taken indoors are often overly noisy and look almost as if they were shot with a point-and-shoot camera from 2000.

The front-facing camera provides roughly the same quality as you would get from a basic 0.3 MP laptop camera. It’s okay for Skype and video conferencing in general, but don’t expect the other side to marvel at your beauty.

As far as the rear camera is concerned, its use should be limited to reading QR codes and that’s about it. Almost every current smartphone camera produces better results than the one included in Fire HD 10. Think about the cameras in the tablet as a last ditch backup and use them accordingly.

Battery

Battery life is where this tablet manages to redeem the poor resolution and the mediocre camera performance. The built-in non-removable Li-Ion battery is able to last up 7 hours during movie playback on full brightness with Wi-Fi on. This is a better result than the iPad Air 2 or Samsung Galaxy Tab S2.

The battery performance is even more impressive when you consider that the screen doesn’t have an ambient light sensor, which means that the tablet can’t automatically adjust brightness. You can expect the tablet to last a whole day during regular use on medium to high brightness settings.

If battery life is your top priority then you won’t be disappointed. The only tablet in the same price range that performs even better is the Acer Iconia Tab 10. It beats the Fire HD 10 by approximately 20% and it costs just $20 more.

Storage

There are two basic storage options that you can choose from. There is the 16 GB version that costs $229.99 and the 32 GB version that currently retails for $259.99 on Amazon. Both versions have a microSD card slot compatible with up to 128 GB large cards. 

Amazon also offers its free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with the Fire tablet. In other words, a lack of storage space isn’t really an issue with this tablet.

Software

The one thing that makes Amazon’s tablet unique from everything else is their custom version of Android operating system called Fire OS. Essentially, Amazon stripped the stock Android to its bare bones and built a completely new user interface on top of what was left. This new UI integrates all Amazon services and gives you a quick and easy access to all common features and applications.

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The latest version of this operating system, the Fire OS 5, is built upon Android 5 Lollipop and is a considerable departure from the standard grid layout that you might know from stock Android. The whole system behaves much more like an interactive shopping center with new content being constantly advertised to you based upon your previous purchases. This take on Android actually feels quite pleasant from the consumer point of view. All you need to do is fire up the tablet and you will instantly be greeted with new recommendations for TV shows, books, applications, and games. Just click on what you like and enjoy the content. It really couldn’t be any easier.

Movies and TV Shows

Amazon Prime subscribers can enjoy unlimited movie and TV show streaming at no additional cost. All video content can be saved for offline viewing or streamed directly to Amazon Fire TV or PlayStation 3 and 4.

Reading

While the official Kindle application is available for all Android and iOS devices, the experience is nothing compared to what the Fire HD 10 (and other Fire tablets and readers) offer. All books are magazines are conveniently accessible directly from the home screen, together with recommendations based upon your favorite content. Amazon even integrated the popular book recommendation service Goodreads. And last but not least, you can now active a special filter that minimizes blue light and thus helps you fall asleep. Blue Shade, as this filter is called, operates on scientifically proven principles and intelligently adjusts the color filtering so that the blue wavelength light is sufficiently suppressed.

Apps and Games

Gaming on Fire tablets is a special app and game store that features a large selection of premium apps and games for free. You can get more than $20,000 worth of content without spending a single penny. This includes popular games such as Goat Simulator, Monument Valley, Angry Birds Slingshot, and many others.

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Amazon has made this possible by partnering with app developers and offering them lucrative advertisement options. Amazon Underground is great for young kids at it provides virtually unlimited entertainment options.

Family Features

Amazon Fire tablets are designed with kids in mind. Parents can limit daily tablet use or even restrict access to certain categories of content. What’s more, Amazon FreeTime Unlimited provides a fantastic way how to give children unrestricted access to a large library of curated kid-friendly content.

Users can share their apps, games, audiobooks, and Prime Video content thanks to Family Library links. This feature works across all platforms and devices, meaning that you can access your family’s content even from iOS.

Performance

The Fire HD 10 uses a Mediatek MT8135 CPU, which is a reasonably fast quad-core processor clocked at 1.5 GHz. This 32-bit processor offers approximately the same performance as lower-end Snapdragon processors.

Since the same chipset is also used in the very cheap Fire HD 6, it’s not a big surprised that the overall performance leaves a lot to be desired. We have already hinted on some performance problems when we were talking about the poor camera performance and how long everything takes. The same lagginess can be observed throughout this tablet. Common actions like closing applications can have a very noticeable delay, which can get quite frustrating.

performance

Multi-tabbed web browsing and extensive multitasking is almost impossible due to Amazon’s decision to include just 1 GB of RAM.

The performance outside the system itself is, luckily, much better. Even modern 3D games can be played with ease. This is when the low screen resolution works in the tablet’s favor.

Pros

  • Great battery life
  • Fantastic integration of Amazon’s services
  • Affordable price
  • Solid construction
  • Access to a very large collection of multimedia content

Cons

  • Poor screen resolution
  • Sluggish interface with performance issues
  • Mediocre cameras

Verdict

The Fire HD 10 is a very hard tablet to recommend. It offers only a very little over its smaller siblings, but it comes with a much higher price tag. The screen resolution is almost laughably small and it makes web browsing and book reading an unpleasant experience. The tablet would have to cost around $150 to be able to compete with other devices that are currently available on the market and especially with its smaller versions.

Specifications

  • BODY:
    • Dimensions: 262 x 159 x 7.7 mm (10.31 x 6.26 x 0.30 in)
    • Weight: 432 g (15.24 oz)
  • DISPLAY:
    • Type: IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
    • Size: 10.1 inches (~71.0% screen-to-body ratio)
    • Resolution: 800 x 1280 pixels (~149 ppi pixel density)
  • PLATFORM: OS Android OS (customized)
  • CPU: Quad-core 1.5 GHz
  • MEMORY: Card slot microSD, up to 128 GB, Internal 16/32 GB, 1 GB RAM
  • CAMERA: Primary 5 MP, Secondary 720p
  • BATTERY: Non-removable Li-Ion battery

Alternatives

To make your life a little easier, we have compiled a list of alternatives to the Fire HD 10 tablet from Amazon. All tablets on this list feature large screens and cost roughly the same amount of money as the Fire HD 10.

Fire HD 8

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Funnily enough, the 8″ version of the Fire HD line of tablets is the best alternative to the Fire HD 10. It costs just $149.99 while offering the same display, hardware, and performance as the larger model.

If you care primarily about the convenient access to Amazon’s services, then this is the right device for you. The extra 2 inches of screen size are in our opinion not worth the added cost.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

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The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 is a versatile device with a kickstand that provides four ways how you can enjoy media content. This tablet is an absolute king of battery life as it can last up to 18 hours of continuous use on a single charge. It also features two high-quality stereo speakers with deep bass and Dolby Audio surround and Wolfson Master Hi-Fi noise reduction.

The tablet is powered by the Intel Atom processor and is optimized for maximum energy efficiency. The 8 MP rear camera has a bright f2.2 aperture lens that delivers sharp, vivid images under all light conditions.

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 costs slightly more than the Fire HD 10, however, the device is, at least, one class higher in terms of build quality and performance.

Lenovo Tab 2 A10

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On paper, the Lenovo Tab 2 A20 appears to be almost indistinguishable from the Fire HD 10. Both tablets have a widescreen IPS display, quad-core processor, long battery life, and 5 MP rear camera. The main difference between the two is the 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution of the Lenovo Tab 2 A20.

The high-resolution display makes the tablet feel much more premium. Reading and movie watching is also more comfortable since the higher pixel density is easier on eyes.

The tablet has even been updated to Android 5.0.1. As usually, the final decision will largely depend on your affinity for Amazon’s service and their seamless integration with the rest of the operating system.

Lenovo Ideatab S6000

Lenovo Ideatab S6000

The third tablet from Lenovo is slightly older than other models but still very capable in terms of what it can offer. The Lenovo Ideatab S6000 has the same resolution as the Fire HD 10 and runs slightly older MTK 8389 quad-core chipset clocked at 1.2 GHz. This chipset has more than enough performance for a casual consumption of various multimedia content. A used Ideatab S6000 costs under $100 and a fully refurbished unit sits at around $150.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A

Samsung Galaxy Tab A

This tablet is perfect for those who dislike the cinematic aspect ratio of the Fire HD 10. The 9.7-inch screen uses a 4:3 ratio with 1024 x 768-pixel resolution. Not much, but it does the job.

As with many products from Samsung, you are getting a well-built device with many additional features and system tweaks.

Droid Writer

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