The Amazon Fire HD 10 is a great alternative if you don't want to shell out the money for an iPad. Let's face it: Apple's devices have dominated the tablet market. Of course, not everyone can afford to buy an iPad. But while Apple may still be king, Amazon has made great strides in producing quality tablets for everyone else. They're not the best on the market. But you can grab Amazon tablets for less than the cost of your water bill. And that means something.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 is, like Amazon's other tablets, incredibly inexpensive. If you're looking for a tablet that will perform like an iPad, this one isn't for you. But if you're in the market for a cheap tablet for your kids, or something on which to watch Netflix (or enjoy your Amazon products), you'll probably want to check this one out. Previous Fire tablets have received criticism for compromising too much in some areas, such as screen and performance, to keep costs down. But this isn't so with the Fire HD 10. This tablet has some obvious flaws, but none of them are deal-breakers.
Design and Features
The Amazon Fire HD 10 can be a real mixed bag. When it's good, it's very, very good. But when it's bad, well, it fails pretty hard. First, we looked at the exterior. Then we checked out the hardware, the software and apps, and the camera. Finally, we looked at battery life. If you're thinking about any piece of technology, it's important to consider the features that matter to you most, then to research accordingly.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 won't win any beauty contests. This tablet's body is hard black, blue, or orange plastic with a matte finish. When you're holding it, it feels like it came out of a vending machine. But it's sturdy and can handle some bumps and bruises. Besides, you're going to put it in a case anyway, so you won't have to see the dismal exterior.
The body measures 10.3 inches by 6.3 inches by 0.4 inches and weighs 17.4 ounces, which is somewhat larger than similar tablets. Is that a good thing? If you're using it to view media or read your Kindle books, then yes it is. If you're looking for something to tuck into a pocket, perhaps not.
Despite its cheap feel, the Fire HD 10 is a competent piece of technology.
The Fire HD 10 has a 10.1-inch, 1,920-by-1,200 display. It also has a USB port, a MicroSD card slot (something that Apple's offerings do not have), and a dual Dolby Atmos-tuned speaker.
The Fire HD 10 is packing 2GB of ram as well as a newer MediaTek quad-core chip, so speed is not a massive issue. It's not as fast as Apple's similar offerings, but it costs about half as much. So you can rest assured that your small sacrifice in power is worth it.
The Fire HD 10 also supports Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless audio as well as dual-band WiFi. Some other tablets struggle with this. You'll also be pleased with the speeds it manages.
One "feature" you can probably live without is the lock screen. It pushes ads ("special offers") at you and makes you feel like you're paying to live inside a virtual shopping center.
Camera and Video
This device has some serious power in many areas that matter. But when you're producing a cheap alternative to the iPad, you need to cut some corners. One of the corners Amazon decided to cut is the camera. If you're the sort of person who nostalgically longs for the quality of 1998 webcams, this tablet has you covered. If you think it's important to take pictures and video that look good, you should run screaming from this device.
The VGA front and 2MP rear cameras almost feel like someone rummaged through their attic and used parts from a webcam they boxed up in high school. Images are muddy and blurry, which is fine for basic video chatting. However, using this tablet for real photos and videos is just not a good option.
The battery, on the other hand, is quite impressive. You can stream a full-screen video at maximum brightness for more than six hours without charging. Sure, it's not as good as some other options out there. But your tablet can stay alive through a binge-watching marathon comfortably. And as anyone with a child can tell you, a weak battery is a surefire way to see a tantrum on a long day.
If you want to extend your battery life, you can enable Low Power mode and Automatic Smart Suspend. These will lower screen brightness and turn off wireless connectivity when it's not in use.
Apps and Software
Apps and software are another weakness. You know how Amazon likes to shove its various products and offerings down your throat? Even though this is an Android tablet, you do not have access to the Google Play Store by default. In fact, most users probably don't realize that they can even get it.
As far as content goes, You'll be able to get Netflix, HBO Go, and Hulu. But the Amazon app store lacks many popular content offerings. This includes pretty much everything produced by Google. Meaning, you can't download the official YouTube app, Gmail, Chrome, or Google Maps. It also does not allow you to get Microsoft products like Outlook, MS Word, and other things you might otherwise take for granted. And since Amazon's web browser, email, calendar, contacts, and document apps pale in comparison to what is available elsewhere, this can be frustrating.
The Fire HD 10 seeks to push you toward Amazon's products. In fact, that's all it seems to do at times. Fortunately, you're not stuck with Amazon's dismal app store.
The Fire HD 10 comes with hands-free Alexa, and you'll love that. If you need to know something, you just yell out "Alexa!" and it will tell you what you need to know even if the screen is off. What's more, if you buy the Show Mode Charging Dock, you can effectively convert this tablet into an Echo Show. The quality won't be quite as good as the actual Show, but it's a decent option if you already own the Fire HD 10.
Problem? Solved. How to get Google Play on the Fire HD 10
If you want to eliminate one of the most significant drawbacks of the Fire HD 10, you have a bit of work ahead of you. First, you need to go to Settings > Security > Enable Apps from Unknown Sources. Next, you need to download and install these Google apps in the following order:
- Google Account Manager
- Google Services Framework
- Google Play Services
- Google Play Store
After that, simply reboot your device and log in to Google Play. Now you're ready to download pretty much any app you like. This workaround is lovely if you enjoy the Amazon Fire HD 10 but hate that you can't download the apps you love.
Alternatives to the Amazon Fire HD 10
The Amazon Fire HD 10 is a great tablet if you have an Amazon Prime membership. If you don't, you may find others to be better options -- especially if you don't mind spending a little more money.
The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 has a slightly smaller screen but a better display and faster performance. It also comes with the Google Play store installed, so you can download whatever apps you want without all the extra work.
The new iPad has a better camera, a better (yet smaller) screen, more processing power, and better battery life. Unfortunately, it costs about twice as much as the Fire HD 10. But if you have the money to throw at Apple's newer iPad, it's the superior choice.
If your budget doesn't include enough money for the Fire HD 10, the Fire HD 8 is an acceptable alternative. The screen and performance are on par with the bigger model. The battery life and speakers are also comparable. It's a little smaller, but it's also much cheaper.
If you have kids, they probably want a tablet. And you probably don't want to put something expensive into the hands of a child. But the Amazon Fire HD 10 is cheap, and it's sure to please.
You'll certainly find better options on the market. But the Fire HD 10 is a very capable piece of technology you and your kids will love. If you want to step it up a notch for the little ones, you can buy the Fire HD 10 Kids Edition.
The Kids Edition costs a bit more cash but includes a "kid-proof" case and a two-year warranty against damage and breakages. It also includes a one-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited, which gives your kids 15,000 apps and games, videos, books, and educational content from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney, and more. You can even download your kids' favorites, and they will be available even when you don't have an internet connection.
Perhaps the best feature is the flexible parental controls that allow you to block access to videos and games until they meet educational goals like reading. Kids also will not have access to social media or the internet and can't make in-app purchases without your approval. Also, you can set bedtime curfews and control screen time and content.
Whether you buy the standard Amazon Fire HD 10 or the Kids Edition, you're sure to be happy with your purchase as long as you are aware of the limitations. You'll get more value out of it if you have an Amazon Prime membership for sure, but it's still a great budget alternative to other tablets.