Amazon All-New Fire HD 8 (2016) tablet review: If you’re after an affordable family tablet and you happen to be a Prime member, then Amazon’s all-new Fire HD 8 tablet will do the job nicely at under £100. Here’s our full Fire HD 8 2016 review.
Cheap tablets that don’t make you want to hurl them out of the window are pretty rare beasts, but Amazon is a dependable source with its own Fire devices. The bog-standard Fire tablet offers a basic but respectable user experience for a shade under £50, but if you bump up your budget you can grab one of the rather good Fire HD tabs instead.
Amazon has refreshed the mid-sized Fire HD 8 for 2016, and this ‘All-New Fire HD 8’ offers some solid specs and easy access to the best Amazon Prime features from just £85. Here’s our full Fire HD 8 review.
All-New Fire HD 8 (2016) Tablet Review: Design
At this sort of price point you shouldn’t expect iPad levels of sexy design, and sure enough the Fire HD 8 is practically put-together. That plastic chassis is a chunky monkey, but at least Amazon offers up a range of bright hues, to appeal to kids and anyone who likes a splash of colour in their lives.
The narrow frame can be comfortably clutched in a single hand in portrait mode, helped by the pleasingly curved edges. At 341g it’s light enough for kids to handle too. And after a couple of weeks of use, the Fire HD 8 hasn’t shown any signs of suffering from being banged around in my backpack.
All-New Fire HD 8 (2016) Tablet Review: Screen and media
If you’re expecting a visual feast at this price point, you’ll once again have to reset your expectations. That said, Amazon’s 8-inch HD screen is a solid budget effort, offering up fairly sharp visuals – you need to look close to see the individual pixels. High-def movies look good, even if colours aren’t exactly punchy.
You get two Dolby speakers mounted on the bottom of the new Fire HD 8 tablet and they’re powerful enough for enjoying a movie at home without headphones. Serious background noise easily drowns them out however (including general kitchen sounds, if you want to watch something while cooking).
You can choose between 16 or 32GB of storage space, with a microSD slot to expand by up to 200GB with a memory card. That’s plenty of space for a massive media collection, good news if you’re off on your hols.
All-New Fire HD 8 (2016) Tablet Review: Features
The Fire HD 8’s hardware features are pretty basic – no fingerprint sensors or IR blasters, for instance – but there’s a lot of software features packed in to enjoy. Of course, most of these are only available to Amazon Prime members.
The tablet comes with quick shortcuts to all of the Prime benefits, right there on the desktop. As well as a link to the Amazon store, you have the Underground app store which offers up free apps and games with no in-app purchases. It’s a brilliant service, so check out our guide to the best Underground games to get involved.
There’s also apps for streaming Prime Video and Prime Music, as well as enjoying your Kindle and Audible books. You can even use the Fire tablet as a remote control of sorts, to play Prime content through your home devices such as the Fire TV.
If you’re struggling to use any of the All-New Fire HD 8’s features or need general assistance, you can jump into the tablet’s settings and get stuck into full tutorials, including help videos and contact details for Amazon’s tech support. That’s definitely good to have, although there’s no MayDay live support here – you need to stump up for an HDX tablet for that.
Families are well catered for too with the Parental Controls, which allow you to set up profiles for your kids and keep them from using certain features. You can even set up time limits and other restrictions.
If you want to Skype your pals with the Fire HD 8, you might want to think again. The front-facing VGA camera is pretty awful, offering a grainy, murky image of your face during web chats. The odd positioning of the lens and its narrow angle means you need to hold the tablet really far away from your face too, to avoid cutting half of your head out.
All-New Fire HD 8 (2016) Tablet Review: Performance and battery life
The Fire HD 8 2016 model sports a basic quad-core MediaTek MT8163 processor, which is perfectly fine for playing around with apps and browsing the web. You can even play some Android games, with the likes of Goat Simulator: Waste of Space only showing occasional slow-down and stutters.
You get support for 5GHz WiFi support, which is good news if you want to jump on a nippy network to stream video and the rest. We didn’t see any issues while streaming HD content over our test network.
Battery life is decent too, so you’ll happily get five to six hour of intensive use before the Fire HD 8 needs plugging in.
All-New Fire HD 8 (2016) Tablet Review: Verdict
If you’re after a simple and affordable family tablet boasting fast access to all of your Amazon Prime content, then the All-New Fire HD 8 tablet is a worthy purchase. The hardware is basic but backed up by lots of great software features, and the sub-£100 price point makes it easy on the wallet.
For Prime members, the Fire HD 8 2016 is a four-star tablet. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you should shop around first.