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Amazon Fire HD 8 review: The new Alexa tablet is best budget tablet in 2017

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The new Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet now comes with Amazon Alexa. Released in June 2017, the new seventh-generation tablet otherwise shares almost identical specifications as the sixth-generation tablet that was released on 21 September 2016.

The voice-activated AI assistant responds to your every beck and call, from reading you an audio book to telling you the weather. And, because the HD 8 is so cheap, it makes it a great budget alternative to Amazon’s other Alexa-powered devices such as the Echo Show.

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Amazon Fire HD 8 review: What you need to know

The Amazon Fire HD 8 is an excellent tablet that boasts impressive battery life, good build quality, the ability to cope with light gaming demands and, most importantly, a price that is affordable to the masses – it’s difficult to see why you wouldn’t get an Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet.

Simply put, it’s one of the best budget tablets you can buy today.

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Amazon Fire HD 8 review: Price and storage options

At £80, the new 16GB Fire HD 8 was released at £10 cheaper than the sixth-generation tablet. The 32GB capacity model was released at £100. Both variants of the Fire HD 8 have a microSD slot that allows you to expand its storage by up to 256GB (the sixth-generation model is limited to 200GB). It’s hard to think why anyone would opt for the 32GB variant when a 16GB microSD card can be picked up for less than £8. However, it will help if you want to save yourself the hassle of moving your apps and games to the microSD card.

Amazon also offers two variants of each capacity size, versions with and without “Special Offers”. The version without these so-called “Special Offers” (more commonly known as ads) is £10 dearer for both.

Amazon Fire HD 8 review: Kids Edition

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is a toddler-friendly tablet. The 32GB device comes was released with an RRP of £130 and grants you one year of Fire For Kids Unlimited and a Kid-Proof case that should survive even the nastiest of falls. Amazon is so confident in its case that it even offers a two-year “worry-free guarantee”. Having received both variations of the tablet, I chose to drop-test the Kids Edition tablet, and I can safely say that it survives and even bounces off the floor. If you’re looking to get your somewhat-clumsy kids a tablet, then the Kids Edition’s bumper case is something you’ll want to consider.

The inclusion of Fire For Kids Unlimited has kids-specific content from TV shows to movies that will appeal to your 3- to 12-year-old kids. Amazon also emphasises the use of safe browsing and parental controls.

Other than the aforementioned inclusions, the Kids Edition tablet is identical to the regular Fire HD 8.  

Amazon Fire HD 8 review: Build quality and design

At first glance, the Fire HD 8 looks like a relatively chunky piece of kit, weighing 369g (up from last year’s 341g).

With its rather thick bezels, it’s not the most attractive tablet in the world but you can hold it at the edges without having to worry about touching the screen. It also comes in four new colours: Black, Canary Yellow, Marine Blue and Punch Red, replacing the colours previously available on the sixth-generation variants.

Despite its girth, it feels very robust and well suited to the rough and tumble of general home life, particularly if you’re considering buying this for a child.

It might be fairly basic in terms of design, but considering it retails for around £80 for the basic 16GB version, it’s easily one of the better-made tablets I’ve seen in this price range.

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Amazon Fire HD 8 review: Performance and battery life

Start using the Fire HD 8, however, and it’s clear how Amazon’s managed to keep the cost so low. The quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek MT8163 processor isn’t particularly quick, although it should serve you well for the most part.

With a Geekbench 3 single-core result of 644 and multi-core result of 1,854, it’s not the best out there, but menu transitions were reasonably smooth, and general navigation didn’t present any major hiccups. This is also aided by 1.5GB of RAM, allowing you to do very minimal multitasking.

It’s not particularly well equipped for dealing with high-intensity games. Its Mali T720 MP3 (T20 MP2 on the sixth-generation model) only manages an average of 7.1fps in GFXBench GL’s onscreen Manhattan 3 test. However, simpler games such as Threes and Temple Run ran perfectly fine, so you should still be able to get in a bit of gaming to while away a long car journey.

Buy the Amazon Fire HD 8 now

Web browsing was reasonably smooth, too, but I saw some noticeable performance dips when scrolling through particularly media-heavy web pages such as The Guardian. That’s not hugely surprising given its Peacekeeper browser performance score of 568, although it’s certainly not the worst score I’ve seen.

Amazon Fire HD 8 battery life

Where the Fire HD 8 really shines, though, is battery life. Setting the screen brightness to our predefined measurement of 170cd/m2, the Fire HD 8 managed 13hrs 4mins of continuous video playback, which is hugely impressive. It’s by far the longest-lasting Fire tablet we’ve seen, surpassing both the Fire HD 10 and Fire 7 by around four hours.

Amazon Fire HD 8 review: Display

At under £100, the Fire HD 8 was never going to have an award-winning screen, so its underwhelming 66% sRGB colour gamut coverage isn’t wholly unexpected. It’s quite a low score, sitting well behind the MediaPad M3 and Iconia Tab 10 (which, admittedly, currently retails for around the twice), but colours were, on the whole, reasonably well balanced and images were neither too warm or too cool, so it’s not quite as disastrous as it might first appear.

Likewise, its 1,280 x 800 resolution might not sound like much, but text is still reasonably crisp and easy to read, and its contrast ratio of 968:1 helps text stand out against lighter backgrounds. It’s exceedingly bright, too, hitting a high of 455cd/m2. That’s more than enough for using outside, and I was able to see the screen clearly even in relentless sunshine. 

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