Amazon Fire HD 8 2020 review: Higher price, but upgrades keep it a bargain

With models available in 7, 8 and 10 inch screens and priced starting at $ 50 first Prime Day Discounts, Amazon’s Fire tablets have long been the go-to option for cheap gadget hunters. But with its 2020 update of the 8-inch Fire HD 8 tablet, along the Goldilocks option of its line, Amazon is adding a twist that might make you think about which one to buy. There are now two 8-inch models to choose from: a base Fire HD 8 starting at $ 90 (£ 90) and the $ 110 (£ 110) Fire HD 8 Plus, which adds wireless charging and slightly better performance. The tablet is not currently available in Australia but the starting price converts to around AU $ 160.

Like it

  • Faster processor than the latest version
  • USB-C fast charging
  • Better positioning of the front camera
  • 2 GB of RAM (from 1.5 GB)
  • Hands-free Alexa voice assistant
  • Improved battery life

I do not like

  • HD 8 Plus offers great enhancements for a little more money
  • Display is HD but not 1080p (could be sharper)
  • Amazon Appstore is limited compared to Google Play and Apple App Store
  • Amazon Prime membership is a must

The two models look identical on the outside. The HD 8 Plus is only available in a slate color while the standard HD 8 is available in black, white, plum, twilight blue and slate. But aside from the white version, they all have a black bezel around the display. Both models have improved over the previous version 2018 Fire HD 8 with a faster processor, USB-C charging, better Wi-Fi performance, and an increase from 16GB to 32GB of storage in the base model. The standard HD 8 has 2GB of RAM – which is 1.5GB – and the HD 8 Plus has 3GB of RAM, which is where you get the performance boost. USB-C charging helps reduce charging times by around an hour compared to the previous HD 8, with the HD 8 Plus charging even faster.

The 2018 Fire HD 8 (left) is taller but slightly thinner than the new Fire HD 8 and HD 8 Plus.

David Carnoy / HDOT

The big problem is that Amazon has moved the front camera. It was at the top of the tablet when you had it in portrait mode. It’s now on the side, so it’s on top when you have it in landscape mode. This helps when making video calls with Zoom and other video calling apps, including Amazon’s. The new model is a bit wider than 2018’s HD 8, but it’s shorter and the bezel now has a similar width around the entire display, which remains the same 8-inch size. Just a high-end tablet like the iPad Pro has more screen and less bezels – other budget tablets typically have wide bezels.

Thanks to the combination of a new 2 GHz quad-core MediaTek 8168 processor and some software updates, battery life is now rated at 12 hours of “mixed use” instead of 10. The other small update is that the expansion slot microSD now accepts up to 1TB cards. Previously, the maximum capacity was 512GB.

So all in all, there are some substantial changes. And you will have to pay more for them. As stated above, the standard HD 8 now costs $ 90 instead of $ 80 and the HD 8 Plus with wireless charging and the extra gigabyte of RAM costs $ 20 more to $ 110. The price for the Plus increases by another $. 20 if you buy the paired wireless charging dock for the Plus, which you will probably want to do.

The Fire HD 8 now features USB-C charging.

David Carnoy / HDOT

Both new Fire HD 8 models have the same 1,280×800 pixel resolution display as the previous HD 8. The screen is technically HD but is basically 720p and not 1080p. It’s fine for watching videos, but it’s not as sharp as the screen you get with, say, an iPad, which is why you’re paying a lot less for it. At 355 grams, the new Fire HD 8 weighs a touch less than its 363g predecessor.

A few years ago, the HD 8 seemed slow, but its performance has steadily improved and it is now quite snappy (Amazon claims the new HD 8s are 30% faster than the 2018 HD 8 thanks to the new processor and optimization. of the software). It is not as responsive as a Entry-level iPad, which often goes on sale for around $ 250, but overall it’s pretty smooth and I’ve had no issues running games like Asphalt 9: Legends. That said, the eight-core processor and the GPU, the graphics processor, are faster in the 10 inch Fire HD 10, which also has a sharper 1080p display. When that model goes on sale for $ 100, it’s probably the best value in tablets. But some people are looking for a smaller, lighter tablet, and the HD 8 is a significant increase over Amazon’s cheapest tablet, the Fire 7.

The more expensive HD 8 Plus comes with wireless charging and comes bundled with a wireless charging dock. The HD 8 Plus automatically enters Show mode when docked.

David Carnoy / HDOT

I haven’t seen a big difference in performance between the HD 8 Plus and the standard HD 8, but the extra gig helps. Apps open faster and can help with multitasking and graphically more intense applications. It never hurts to have more RAM, I can tell you.

The HD 8 Plus appears to wirelessly charge on any Qi-enabled charging pad – at least the ones I’ve tried with 7.5 watts or higher charging power. But you really want the charging dock that Amazon bundles for $ 20 more. This is because one of the great advantages of the Fire HD 8 Plus is that you can dock it and it automatically switches to show mode, turning your tablet into something very similar to a Eco Show 8, complete with hands-free access to the Alexa voice assistant. It’s still using the tablet’s internal speakers instead of a real speaker, and the tablet doesn’t have a larger microphone array to pick up your voice like an Echo speaker does. But it works well enough and the sound is OK for watching videos (not that great for music). You can wirelessly connect a Bluetooth speaker to increase the sound.

The Fire HD 8 standard is available in white and other color options.

César Salza

I put the dock in my kitchen and used the HD 8 Plus as a mini TV because I have Spectrum TV as a cable service provider. There seems to be a Spectrum app that gives me all of my channels on the Fire HD 8 or HD 8 Plus as long as they are on my home network (you get a small number of channels when away from your home network). Like the Fire HD 10, the HD 8 now has a picture-in-picture mode for watching videos in a small window in the corner of the display while using the tablet’s other applications, such as using a browser to search. recipes. You could get a cover with built-in stand – Amazon sells many, including its well-designed but expensive covers – and create the same setup for watching videos with the HD 8 Plus or the standard HD 8. it would not be able to charge the tablet wirelessly at the same time.

The Fire HD 8 has always been a useful tablet for consuming Amazon video content, ebooks, and music, and is still particularly useful for Prime members. You can also watch others video streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, but the selection of apps in the Amazon Appstore has always been limited compared to what’s available for Android and iOS, especially when it comes to games. For example, you won’t find apps for Vudu or HBO Max (though HBO Max may be coming).

The tablet runs on Amazon’s latest Fire operating system, a customized version of the Android P, which was released in the fall of 2018. And while Amazon doesn’t encourage it, you can install the Google Play Store by following a few instructions on the Internet. This would allow you to run a lot more apps. But some people may feel intimidated by the process.

The previous Fire HD 8 was popular with parents who wanted a cheap tablet for their kids. If that’s why you’re buying it, the HD 8 standard will be fine. (There’s also a $ 130 children’s edition that bundles into a protective case and Amazon’s one-year Freetime Unlimited all-in-one subscription service that gives kids access to thousands of books, videos, apps. , age-appropriate Audible books and games.)

I love being able to wirelessly charge the Fire HD 8 Plus, and the dock is well designed. I think you’ll end up using the tablet more because it does double duty as a more modest replacement for the Echo Show; it is practically always charged and ready to use when you want to use it off the dock. That said, the bundle with the dock is currently $ 40 more than the standard HD 8 and for some people this is a big price jump if you’re looking for a budget tablet.

The previous Fire HD 8 sold for just $ 50 over the last few holidays (and other flash sales this year). This probably won’t go that low, but expect to see it at a $ 20 to $ 30 discount at some point in the future. At $ 90, it’s decent value and will be a bargain if it drops to $ 60 or $ 70. I wish the screen was 1080p, but apparently you can’t get it all for this modest price.

Editor’s Note: Since the Fire HD 8 reviewed here is very similar to its sibling product, the Fire HD 8 Plus, most of this language is borrowed from our review of that model.

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