The Amazon Fire HD 10, with a starting price of 149.99 euros, is more than an alternative: it is the only option if we have a tight budget and can accept some limitations.
With the success of the Kindle e-book readers, Amazon tried to expand with other devices such as tablets and smartphones; And while the Kindle Phone was a flop, the Fire HD tablets are still excellent for one simple reason: their price.
Now, we have been able to test the last member of the family to be renewed, the 2021 version of the Fire HD 10 ; Compared to the previous version, launched in 2019, there are not many new features, but it does not need them to continue dominating a market, that of cheap Android tablets, from which we expected much more.
Simple but effective
The Fire HD 10 2021 is based on the same Mediatek Helio P60T processor as its predecessor, now accompanied by 3 GB of RAM instead of 2 GB; but far from being a drawback, the performance of this tablet is still the best in its price range.
Either due to increased memory, or improvements in the Fire OS system, I have had no problem using various apps, browsing web pages and even playing a bit, although demanding games like Genshin Impact are not recommended. At least cloud-based services like Xbox Game Pass work fine. That’s already more than I can say with other cheap tablets, where the great sacrifice to get a low price is the processor.
The battery is also noteworthy, or more specifically, the energy efficiency. Amazon promises 12 hours of use , and the truth is that it meets and sometimes exceeds them.
That places it very well if we need a companion to our mobile and we do not want to carry a laptop with us. However, charging is not fast and there is no charger in the box, so you will need one; at the very least, the USB-C connection guarantees compatibility with anyone who’s modern.
On the outside, there aren’t many changes either, but again, they weren’t necessary. It is still a very austere design , without frills or anything special that makes it stand out. If you imagine “tablet” in your mind, you will probably imagine a Fire HD, that’s how generic they are. Still, there are little strange details, such as the position of the aforementioned USB-C port which, together with the 3.5mm audio jack, is at the top, and not the bottom as usual.
That means it shares space with the power and volume buttons. Everything is concentrated on that side, with the rest of the edges of the device completely empty. I can’t say that it affected usage much, but it’s funny, to say the least.
As the official Amazon case is also curious, which I have also been able to test. It is completely made of recycled materials , plastic and fabric, and although the touch is somewhat rough, that helps it not to fall; Most notable is that the cover folds down to act as a stand, allowing us to put the tablet upright on the table. Although it may not seem like it, it is stable and supports our touches without falling, although 39.99 euros may be too much for many people.
The edges of the screen are also thicker than the industry is accustoming us to, which makes the tablet not as small as it could be. At least I have few complaints with the screen. With a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels at 10.1 inches, it is sharp , the color treatment is good, and I can spend hours and hours looking at it without problems.
It’s not the best screen I’ve seen at this price, but it’s not the worst either. As a novelty in this version, it is protected with reinforced aluminum silicate glass , which should guarantee that it does not break at the first change.
Essential if you use Amazon
While the hardware is inconspicuous, the software is another story. Amazon continues to bet on its own operating system, Fire OS; Although it is based on Android, it does not have Google apps and services, depending exclusively on the platform set up by Amazon.
The first difference is evident as soon as you unlock the tablet. The interface is divided into three screens, designed to encourage the use of Amazon services to find our next book, movie or purchase.
The first screen, the one that appears if we swipe to the left, is based exclusively on that, on finding recommendations and showing new products to buy or enjoy with our Amazon account; whether they are series on Amazon Prime Video, or books with Kindle Unlimited, we will find it here.
The screen that appears if we slide to the right, on the other hand, collects all the content that we already have, whether they are apps that we have bought and have not yet installed, or books pending to read. The central screen is the main one, from which we can access the installed apps. So far, everything normal, although from time to time you may find recommendations for new releases.
That is the big problem with the Fire OS interface: it seems that the function of the three screens is blurred, and in the end, they all serve the same purpose : so that you spend on Amazon and spend more time on their services.
The fact that the app screen began to show recommendations for new books that I might like caused me a great rejection; If I want recommendations, I go to the screen on the left, which is dedicated exclusively to that. In an attempt to make me spend a little more, Amazon only managed to piss me off.
Android, but not Google
Fire OS is also not friendly if you want to do anything other than use Amazon services. We have already made it clear that you will not find Google services here and, therefore, neither the Play Store. We depend on the Amazon App Store, which, although it has improved a lot in recent years, still offers few apps.
It is worrying that, even when Amazon manages to convince developers, they do not fully bet on its platform. For example, one of the few apps that we have pre-installed is Microsoft Office , with all the great potential of its office applications; but in the App Store we can’t find your Edge web browser (or any other popular one) and we have to settle for Amazon’s Silk. It is shocking considering the Amazon-Microsoft alliance that will allow you to use this Android App Store in Windows 11 .
Although there are methods to bypass these restrictions, they are not recommended for the user who is little put into these things, when opening the door to install malware on the tablet.
The best, with small print
All in all, the feeling that the Amazon Fire HD 10 has left me is exceptional. There is absolutely nothing like it for this price , that offers the same experience, more typical of a tablet that costs 100 or even 150 euros more. But it is also a tablet tied to the Amazon platform, which expects us to be subscribers of all its services in order to take advantage of it as much as possible.
If we can accept that, the Fire HD 10 is the best tablet for the price. We can get it from 149 euros , with 32 GB and advertising (164.99 euros without advertising), or for 189.99 euros with 64 GB with advertising (204.99 euros without advertising).