Amazon Alexa built in
Long battery life
Screen only so-so
Aggressive Amazon software
Takes long time to charge
Android-based tablets come in all shapes, sizes, and price points. Thankfully for you, there are tons of choices in the sub-$150 range, which means you can score a decent piece of hardware for very little money. Amazon is perhaps the largest purveyor of cheap slates, encompassed in the Amazon Fire tablet series, which includes the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus. If you want cheap, or want to give something to your kids, this is where to start.
Read more: The best cheap Android tablets
What you need to know about the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus
- Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (32GB with ads): $109.99/£109/€119
- Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (32GB without ads): $124.99/£119/€139
- Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (64GB with ads): $139.99/£139/€149
- Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (64GB without ads): $154.99/£149/€164
Amazon sells the Fire HD 8 Plus along with its family of tablets online, but you can also pick them up at your local Best Buy or Target store in the US. The Fire HD 8 Plus stands second from the top in the lineup; it’s superseded only by the Fire HD 10, which has a bigger, higher-resolution display. There’s also the Fire HD 8 (less RAM, no wireless charging), and the Fire 7 (smaller form factor, lower-res screen).
What’s with the variants? The Fire HD 8 Plus comes in two configurations — 32GB and 64GB — with $30 separating the two. Then there are ads. You can elect to save $15 by putting up with ads for Amazon and other services. The ads appear on the lock screen, as well as on the home screen in a shuffling carousel. Whether or not you want to deal with ads is up to you, but I’d spend the extra $15 to get the ad-free version.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus only comes in black.
Amazon did a commendable job with the basic form factor of the Fire 8 HD Plus. Thanks to the 8-inch display, the tablet is compact and highly portable. It’s small enough for many purses and slings. Moreover, it includes user-friendly features such as a microSD card slot (up to 1TB) and a headphone jack. Stereo speakers are located on the left side (or top when held in landscape mode). They produce solid sound. The chassis itself is made of plastic, which means it is kid-friendly.
It’s great to have Amazon Alexa built-in. With voice recognition and Alexa, you have full access to all the voice commands and powers of Amazon’s assistant. Further, you can put the tablet into display mode so you can see Alexa’s responses to queries about the weather and so on.
Plenty of content is available. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you get free access to some Prime video, audio, and book content. You can always add more through apps such as Netflix, Disney Plus, and Spotify. Those, of course, require separate subscriptions.
At 12 hours, battery life is excellent. I just wish it took less than four hours to charge the thing.
What’s not so good?
The display is average at best. With 1,280 by 800 pixels, it may earn the “HD” moniker, but it’s a far cry from Full HD. The resolution makes for a disappointing pixel density of 189ppi. It looks low-res to the eye, which is a shame. It’s acceptable for watching movies and TV shows, but some might find the resolution isn’t crisp enough for reading.
Performance is sluggish. The quad-core, 2.0GHz MediaTek processor with 3GB of RAM just isn’t up to the task. Every experience is choppy and slow. This is the biggest detractor to using the tablet. You’ll see stuttering menus, slow screen transitions, and frustrating performance across the board. It’s past time Amazon took performance seriously and provided a better experience for customers, though we understand that might raise the price.
Performance is sluggish. Every experience is choppy and slow. This is the biggest detractor to using the tablet.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus doesn’t run plain Android. The tablet’s user interface, or Fire OS, is heavily customized by Amazon to highlight its own content. The homescreen experience features three main pages that you can access by scrolling left and right. At least you have access to regular Android apps via the Amazon Appstore.
The cameras are also very poor. You’ll find 2MP cameras on front and back, but both aren’t good. The user-facing one barely suffices for video chats, which are horribly grainy and dark.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus review: Should I buy it?
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus marks an entry point into the world of Android tablets. It covers the basics in terms of features but is limited by the underpowered hardware necessary to reach the low price point.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is hard to beat on price.
Amazon’s pricing is perhaps the Fire HD 8 Plus’ most endearing feature. With a starting cost of just $109.99, it’s hard to beat. You can ratchet up the storage and choose between an ad-supported and non-ad-supported experience. I think the 32GB model without ads is the best option. You save yourself the hassle of ads and can spend the $30 upgrade fee for the 64GB model on a much higher capacity microSD card (or a case) for the tablet.
If you’re looking for a more traditional Android tablet, or something with less Amazon, be sure to check out some other options in our list of the best cheap tablets you can buy.