Tech

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021) Review: Still Great Value

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Fire HD 10 is not the best tablet you will always have to use it. Not even close. But it’s good, decently powerful, and good enough for many of us.

Amazon’s update from 2021 to the 10 HD 10-inch display reflects what we saw last year with the 8-inch model. There are now two variants, one with 3 gigabytes of RAM and a “Plus” model with 4 GB. Amazon has also added something called the Productivity Bundle, which consists of a Fire HD 10 tablet (3 GB RAM model), a Bluetooth keyboard case, and a 12-month subscription to Microsoft 365 (which renews automatically if you do not cancel it).

Yes, you read that right. Amazon puts the HD 10 Focus as a device where you can get a real job. Surprisingly, this is true even though you don’t need to use Google apps. The Fire HD 10 is still packed by Amazon’s Fire OS, which doesn’t have the multitude of apps you’ll find in the Google Play Store. Yet, with a keyboard and a slightly better screen, the new Fire HD 10 is something like a netbook — a small, good, capable device, anywhere.

Little Horse

The new Fire HD 10 has uniform bezels on all sides, but otherwise it’s not much different on the outside. It still has a 1080p display, 10.1 inches, although Amazon claims it’s 10 percent brighter than the 2019 model. I haven’t been able to compare them side by side, but I had no problem using the Fire HD 10 in bright light. The screen won’t take away your socks, but it’s good for surfing the Internet, watching videos, and everything you can do with it.

The extra RAM is noticeable right away. There’s no one else during scrolling, and opening apps is quick and smooth. I haven’t noticed any noticeable pauses or delays, which have always plagued low-end Android tablets. Like last year’s 8-inch model, this update finally makes the Fire HD 10 fast enough that you don’t even realize you’re using a low-end device.

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Battery life stops at about 12 hours. Obviously, this depends on what you do. Streaming back-to-back movies will eat up the battery faster than just surfing the Internet. But it’s still in the range of much more expensive competitors. As for build quality, Fire tablets have always been surprisingly durable despite their bulky size and plastic shells. I cracked the screen on two iPads, but I never had the same thing happen with a Fire.

If you opt for the Plus model ($ 30 more) you get a gigabyte in addition to RAM, the option to wirelessly charge it (see our guide for our favorite wireless chargers), and a few more colors to choose from. Amazon sent me the regular and Plus models to try. Most of the time I don’t notice a big difference, but for only $ 30 more, extra RAM will make for a more future purchase.

The most interesting update is the Productivity Bundle with Bluetooth keyboard and Microsoft 365 subscription. The latter compensates for the fact that Google software is significantly absent from Fire HD 10. That means no Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, or also Gmail (you can connect to Gmail through Amazon’s default email app). Worse, even Web versions won’t be loaded into the included Silk Web browser, and there are no popular alternative browsers available in Amazon’s App Store.

Microsoft 365 is capable of doing all that Google’s online office suite can do, but if all of your colleagues use Google, and you need to be able to edit shared documents on Google, then that’s a debatable point. After playing with Microsoft 365 for a week, I really prefer Google’s offerings, but that doesn’t help me in the long run, since I rely on Google apps for work.


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