When I unwrapped the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022), I was excited to finally play with a low-cost tablet. It’s a device that people can easily afford, and upon first impression, it felt great in my hand.
However, once I turned it on, it became clear this isn’t the tablet for me. The form factor is perfect, and the screen quality tradeoff makes sense for the price, but the processor in this so-called new tablet is very slow — far too slow for 2022.
There are a few use cases for the Fire HD 8, so it’s best not to dismiss it entirely at first glance, but think of it as a single-use device and more like an e-reader or a portable video player. Through that lens, the price and functionality make more sense, but as a tablet experience, the software and speed feel immediately dated.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 isn’t bad if you want to watch TV or read an e-book, but browsing the web is downright painful, and social media apps like Twitter and Reddit are laggy. Want to pull out the keyboard and type something? Have fun. It’s going to take a while, and be prepared for typos as the keys lag. Adjusting the typeface through the same lag is equally frustrating. Everything is like this. If you’re just watching content on the tablet, it’s fine, but any form of interaction reveals how slow it truly is.
I could wax long about the subtle pros and cons of Amazon’s latest tablet, but when you get down to it, the device is suitable for kids, video chatting with elderly grandparents or for someone looking to get a little more out of their ereader.
If you want a small screen to watch content on before bed, it isn’t terrible, but since the HD 8 doesn’t have access to Google services, there’s no YouTube app, which is a deal breaker for me, at least. Other apps like Netflix, Disney+ and Prime video are available. TikTok and Instagram also work well enough if you’d rather watch vertical video.
Since the tablet feels so bulky, sturdy and cheap, I don’t feel the need to put a case on it, but adding a kickstand to the back would make it a lot better as a portable movie or TV-watching device. Better speakers would go a long way too. As it stands, the Fire HD 8’s speakers are fine, but for a device that markets itself as “designed for portable entertainment,” I didn’t expect them to sound this flat. It’s not an entirely fair comparison, but to offer a bit of context, my iPhone 14 Pro sounds about 3x as loud and far more detailed.
On the more positive side, the Fire HD 8 offers excellent battery life. In standby, I can pick it up after a few days and it still has charge for me to browse the internet a bit, put it down, and repeat the cycle a few more times. I generally felt the need to force myself to use the Fire HD 8 for the purposes of this review. The only time I was really excited to use it was on the first night when I took it out of the box.
That feeling seemed to extend to my partner Alex as well. She used the tablet one night for fun since it was new, but after that, she never returned to it, even though we kept it within arms reach on a table near our couch. It’s just too laggy compared to most other modern smartphones and tablets. That said, the Amazon Fire HD 8 will work in a pinch for the elderly or children, but even then, a two or three-year-old iPad offers a better experience.
During the writing, Amazon had this tablet discounted on a lightning deal to $89, but it regularly retails for $119.99.
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