Review: 2020 Amazon Fire HD 8 (10th gen) tablet

Review: 2020 Amazon Fire HD 8 (10th gen) tablet

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It’s been a while since I reviewed an Amazon Fire tablet. These compact and budget friendly tablets are designed to give you access to many of the features you want and need in a compact tablet, while still being cost effective. Amazon’s newest tablet is the Fire HD 8 10th generation. This 8” tablet is ultra portable and has some upgrades over older versions. In this review I’ll take a look at the basics of what you can do with an Amazon Fire tablet, plus what it can’t do, I’ll share the improvements that have been made and talk about whether I think it’s a worthy buy.

With an 8” HD display, Amazon’s compact tablet costs just $109CAD and Amazon says it’s 30% faster than previous versions with a 2 GHz quad-core processor and 2GB RAM that they say should allow you to easily multi-task when watching movies, playing games and browsing the web.

What can I do on a Fire HD 8 tablet? Amazon’s Fire HD8 is a small tablet that’s somewhere between an e-reader and a full fledged tablet computer.

With more memory, now double the storage – 32 or 64 GB of memory (plus you can expand up to 1 TB with microSD card it lets you do a variety of things like:
read e-books
listen to audio books
watch streaming TV shows and movies on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube & Netflix
watch downloaded videos
play games
download and use apps like InstagramFacebook
shop the Amazon app, see your orders and more

Amazon says this tablet is 30% faster than before and while is may be a bit laggier than other higher end tablets, you’re getting what you pay for here.
The Fire HD 8 10th gen has 2 MP front and rear-facing cameras with 720p HD video recording.
The photos on this are marginal at best since the sharpness isn’t there and the colours are kind of washed out, but they’ll be fine for kids. You don’t want this tablet to be your primary camera.

You’ll get your apps from the Amazon App store, and Google Play store isn’t officially supported.
For me, I was happy to have Google Keep, YouTube Instagram, Netflix, Kindle, and Prime Video.
You can even make video calls on apps like Zoom. That’s a pleasant and handy surprise!

When I last reviewed the Fire HD 8, there were some limitations on functions here in Canada, meaning there was a lot I couldn’t do. With the new 2020 10th gen Fire HD 8 I was looking forward to seeing if some improvements and changes had been made giving the device better functionality here in the great white north.

Fire Tablets in the USA had Alexa smart digital assistant functionality built in, but this feature wasn’t enabled in Canada for a long time. I’m really happy to report that the Alexa app works on Canadian devices. Kinda.
While you can now see your Alexa Smart Home and control them on screen, there doesn’t appear to be a way to talk to Alexa on the tablet and get her to obey your commands.

Show Mode is also a no-show… With Show Mode on your Fire HD 8 or Fire HD, Alexa voice responses are enhanced with full screen visuals. Since Alexa isn’t enabled on this tablet, the function doesn’t work, but what this feature is supposed to do is turn your tablet into a defacto Echo device with a screen, like the Echo Show.

Despite Alexa not being full service, phone and video calling is now enabled on the Fire HD 8 so you can have an audio chat or use video if they also have a video-enabled Alexa device.

Also still missing in Canada is Audible. The tablet comes pre-loaded in the USA with Audible for audio books. Sadly the Canadian version still doesn’t and you can’t find it on the Amazon App Store. I’m not sure if it’s an Amazon or an Audible issue, but it’s disappointing this feature is still lacking.

Overall I am surprised by how much I like this little tablet. It’s compact and light and easy to set up and use.

While this tablet definitely doesn’t have the power or capabilities of something like an iPad Pro, or the ultra sharp screen, it’s also a much less expensive tablet, priced at an astoundingly affordable hundred bucks or so in Canada for the 32GB size and $139 for twice the memory at 64GB, making that a good upgrade.
The screen and audio quality are fine and the variety of apps available is excellent.
What I disliked most about this tablet is the features that aren’t available and haven’t been for years: Alexa voice control, Show Mode and Audible. While these will may show up a few years into the future, don’t hold your breath.
Even so, if you’re getting this tablet, at least you know some of its future potential. But if these are features you need and want now, you might be better off with a different tablet, though you’re definitely going to pay more for it.
Overall there’s a lot to love about Fire HD 8 if you want a low priced but versatile tablet for travel or the kids, or to supplement another  tablet you may already have.