Amazon Fire HD 8 review

For over a decade, Amazon has been the king of online shopping. Need a book with a few quid off? Amazon. Emergency fancy dress outfit? Amazon. The company has wisely decided that it should not try to compete with the best high-end tablets, but instead make affordable devices that are windows to all its best online content. The updated Amazon Fire HD 8 tries to perfect a combination of function and value, but whether or not you’ll agree it does depends on whether you are willing to invest in an Amazon Prime membership. Here’s our Amazon Fire HD 8 review.

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Amazon Fire HD 8 review: Price and where to buy

Predictably, you can buy the new, updated Fire HD 8 direct from Amazon. It is well priced for the specs, starting at £89.99 with 16GB of storage, double the previous generation.

There’s also a 32GB option that costs £109.99. These two options display adverts on the lock screen for games, books, films and music from Amazon. If you don’t want ads (we didn’t) they will cheekily charge you £10 extra for the pleasure. Still, we think £99.99 for a 16GB tablet is a great deal.

View the Amazon Fire HB 8 on Amazon here

Amazon Fire HD 8 review: Design and build

The updated Fire HD 8 has a different design from its predecessor, which had a black bezel and glossy black back panel. The new tablet again has an 8in screen with black surrounding bezels but this time a matte plastic rear casing in four colour options: black, blue, tangerine (orange) and magenta (purple).

We’d say that the black version is preferable, simply because it does not give away the tablet’s cheapness. Our blue review sample, while not horrendous in appearance, did keep reminding us it only cost ninety quid. Then again, if you like bright colours or you’re buying for a child, the colours are quite appealing. The unit as a whole measures 214 mm x 128 mm x 9.2 mm, a form you will barely notice in a backpack or handbag.

While the plastic back is not premium in any way, the device overall is surprisingly sturdy. There’s barely any give or flex in the plastic, giving the tablet a reassuring heft. The front of the device has no physical buttons, all of which are reserved for its top edge. It needs only three; a lock/power button on the top right next to the micro-USB port and microphone, and a volume rocker on the top left next to the headphone jack.

On the rear is a 2Mp camera, while the front is a very low-res VGA lens for video calling and (very grainy) selfies.

There is also a welcome micro-SD card slot on the top right edge of the Fire HD 8 that supports up to an additional 200GB of storage – excellent to see on such an affordable device. The two speakers, one at the top and one at the bottom edge of the left edge as you hold it portrait give away the preferable landscape orientation that Amazon has in mind. It starts to give away the fact Amazon is expecting you to watch Amazon Prime videos on the Fire HD 8.

Amazon Fire HD 8 review: Display

A device called the Fire HD 8 obviously has an HD screen, with a resolution of 1280 x 800 and 189ppi. Also promised is HD video playback, which thankfully holds true and looks excellent. We streamed some episodes of Mr Robot using our Amazon Prime account, and the picture was razor sharp – but we had to have the screen brightness pretty much on maximum. You’ll find you’ll need to do so for most use cases on the Fire HD 8, as otherwise the screen looks quite murky.

Although video playback is HD, text and icons display slightly pixelated. This does not detract from readability, but Fire HD 8 reserves its best display capabilities for HD content direct from Amazon Prime. In our use, even streaming videos from YouTube were normally slightly grainy compared to our experience on more high-end tablets.

However, this wasn’t too noticeable and as with much of the experience of the HD 8, we were reminded that this did only cost £90 – but this ends up being a positive reflection rather than a nagging disappointment. At this price point, there is always compromise, and with the Fire HD 8 there is an acceptable level of it.

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