Amazon Fireplace HD Eight 2020 overview: Increased worth, however upgrades preserve it a cut price

With fashions accessible in 7-, Eight- and 10-inch display screen sizes and priced as little as $50 earlier than Prime Day reductions, Amazon’s Fireplace tablets have lengthy been the go-to possibility for cut price gadget hunters. However with its 2020 refresh of the Eight-inch Fireplace HD Eight pill, lengthy the Goldilocks possibility of its line, Amazon is including a twist that will go away you questioning which one to purchase. There at the moment are two Eight-inch fashions to select from: a baseline Fireplace HD Eight beginning at $90 (£90), and the $110 (£110) Fireplace HD Eight Plus, which provides wi-fi charging and barely higher efficiency. The pill is not presently accessible in Australia however the beginning worth converts to about AU$160.

LikeFaster processor than final versionFast USB-C chargingBetter entrance digicam placement2GB of RAM (up from 1.5GB)Palms-free Alexa voice assistantImproved battery life

Do not LikeHD Eight Plus gives good step-ups for only a bit extra moneyDisplay is HD however not 1080p (may very well be sharper)Amazon Appstore is proscribed in contrast with Google Play and Apple App StoreAmazon Prime membership is a should

The 2 fashions look equivalent on the surface. The HD Eight Plus is simply accessible in a slate shade whereas the usual HD Eight is on the market in black, white, plum, twilight blue and slate. However aside from the white model, all of them have a black bezel across the show. Each fashions are improved over the earlier 2018 Fireplace HD Eight model with a sooner processor, USB-C charging, higher Wi-Fi efficiency and a bump from 16GB to 32GB of storage within the base mannequin. The usual HD Eight has 2GB of RAM — that is up from 1.5GB — and the HD Eight Plus has 3GB of RAM, which is the place you get the efficiency enhance. The USB-C charging does assist cut back charging instances by about an hour from the earlier HD Eight, with the HD Eight Plus charging even sooner.

The 2018 Fireplace HD Eight (left) is taller however barely slimmer than the brand new Fireplace HD Eight and HD Eight Plus. 

David Carnoy/CNET

What’s a giant deal is that Amazon has moved the front-facing digicam. It was once on the prime of the pill whenever you had it in portrait mode. Now it is on the facet, so it is on the prime when you may have it in panorama mode. That helps whenever you’re doing video calls with Zoom and different video-calling apps, together with Amazon’s personal. The brand new mannequin is a bit wider than the 2018 HD Eight, nevertheless it’s shorter and the bezel is now the same width round the entire show, which stays the identical Eight-inch measurement. Solely a high-end pill just like the iPad Professional has extra display screen and fewer bezel: Different funds tablets usually have broad bezels.  

Because of the mix of a brand new 2GHz quad-core MediaTek 8168 processor and a few software program updates, battery life is now rated at 12 hours of “combined use” as an alternative of 10.  The opposite small improve is that the microSD growth slot now accepts as much as 1TB playing cards. Beforehand, the utmost capability was 512GB.

So all in all, there are some substantial adjustments. And you will have to pay extra for them. As said above, the usual HD Eight now prices $90 as an alternative of $80 and the HD Eight Plus with wi-fi charging and the additional gigabyte of RAM is $20 extra at $110. The worth for the Plus goes up one other $20 for those who purchase the companion wi-fi charging dock for the Plus, which you most likely wish to do.

The Fireplace HD Eight now options USB-C charging.

David Carnoy/CNET

Each new Fireplace HD Eight fashions have the identical 1,280×800-pixel decision show because the earlier HD Eight. The display screen is technically HD nevertheless it’s mainly 720p and never 1080p. It is high quality for watching movies nevertheless it’s not almost as sharp because the display screen you get with, say, an iPad, which is why you are paying so much much less for this. At 355 grams, the brand new Fireplace HD Eight weighs a contact lower than its 363g predecessor.

Just a few years again, the HD Eight appeared sluggish, however its efficiency has steadily improved and now it is fairly zippy (Amazon says the brand new HD 8s are 30% sooner than the 2018 HD Eight due to the brand new processor and software program optimization). It is not as responsive as an entry-level iPad, which is commonly on sale for about $250, nevertheless it’s total fairly clean and I did not have any downside operating video games like Asphalt 9: Legends. That mentioned, the eight-core processor and GPU — the graphics processor — are sooner within the 10-inch Fireplace HD 10, which additionally has a sharper 1080p show. When that mannequin goes on sale for $100, it is most likely the perfect worth in tablets. However some persons are on the lookout for a smaller, lighter pill and the HD Eight is a major bump up from Amazon’s least expensive pill, the Fireplace 7.

The dearer HD Eight Plus options wi-fi charging and is on the market in a bundle with a wi-fi charging dock. The HD Eight Plus mechanically goes into Present Mode when within the dock.

David Carnoy/CNET

I did not see a giant distinction in efficiency between the HD Eight Plus and normal HD Eight, however the further gig does assist. Apps open a contact sooner and it might assist with multitasking and extra graphically intense purposes. It by no means hurts to have extra RAM, I can inform you that. 

The HD Eight Plus appears to wirelessly cost on any Qi-enabled charging pad — a minimum of those I attempted with 7.5 watts or larger charging energy. However you really need the charging dock that Amazon bundles in for an additional 20 bucks. That is as a result of one of many large appeals of the Fireplace HD Eight Plus is that you may drop it within the dock and it mechanically goes into present mode, turning your pill into one thing very like an Echo Present Eight, full with hands-free entry to the Alexa voice assistant. It is nonetheless utilizing the pill’s inside audio system as an alternative of an actual speaker and the pill would not have a extra intensive microphone array for selecting up your voice like an Echo speaker does. However it works properly sufficient and the sound is OK for watching video (it is not so nice for music). You possibly can wirelessly join a Bluetooth speaker to enhance the sound.

The usual Fireplace HD Eight is on the market in white and different shade choices.

César Salza

I put the dock in my kitchen and used the HD Eight Plus as a mini TV as a result of I’ve Spectrum TV as my cable supplier. There occurs to be a Spectrum app that offers me all my channels on the Fireplace HD Eight or HD Eight Plus as long as I am on my dwelling community (you get a diminished variety of channels whenever you’re away from your own home community). Just like the Fireplace HD 10, the HD Eight now has a picture-in-picture mode for watching video in a small window within the nook of the show whereas utilizing the pill’s different purposes, reminiscent of utilizing a browser to search for recipes. You possibly can get a canopy with a built-in stand — Amazon sells loads of these, together with its personal properly designed however costly covers — and create the identical setup for watching movies with both the HD Eight Plus or normal HD Eight. However you would not be capable to wirelessly cost the pill on the similar time.

The Fireplace HD Eight has at all times been a helpful pill for consuming Amazon video content material, ebooks and music, and it is nonetheless significantly helpful for Prime members. It’s also possible to watch different streaming video companies reminiscent of Netflix and Hulu, however the choice of apps within the Amazon Appstore has at all times been restricted in contrast with what’s accessible for Android and iOS, particularly with regards to video games. You will not discover apps for Vudu or HBO Max, for example (although HBO Max could also be coming).

The pill runs on Amazon’s newest Fireplace OS, a custom-made model of Android P, which was launched within the fall of 2018. And whereas Amazon would not encourage it, you possibly can set up the Google Play retailer by following some directions on the web. That will mean you can run much more apps. However some folks could really feel intimidated by the method.

The earlier Fireplace HD Eight was well-liked with dad and mom wanting an inexpensive pill for his or her children. If that is who you are shopping for this for, the usual HD Eight goes to be simply high quality. (There’s additionally a $130 Children Version that bundles in a protecting case and a 12 months of Amazon’s Freetime Limitless all-in-one subscription service that offers children entry to hundreds of age-appropriate books, movies, apps, Audible books and video games.)

I like having the ability to wirelessly cost the Fireplace HD Eight Plus and the dock is properly designed. I feel you will find yourself utilizing the pill extra as a result of it does double obligation as a extra modest Echo Present substitute; it is mainly at all times charged and able to go whenever you wish to use it outdoors the dock. That mentioned, the bundle with the dock is presently $40 greater than the usual HD Eight, and for some people that is a giant bounce in worth for those who’re on the lookout for a funds pill.

The earlier Fireplace HD Eight bought for as little as $50 through the holidays final (and different flash gross sales this 12 months). This one most likely will not go that low, however anticipate to see it for $20 to $30 off in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later. At $90, it is a respectable worth, and it will be an actual cut price if it drops to $60 or $70. I do want the display screen have been 1080p, however you apparently cannot have every part at this modest worth.

Editors’ be aware: As a result of the Fireplace HD Eight reviewed right here is similar to its sibling product, the Fireplace HD Eight Plus, most of this language is borrowed from our overview of that mannequin.

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