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Amazon Fire HD8 (2017) Review: A minor update of a great family tablet

4

The Good

  • Affordable
  • Fast Prime content access
  • Parental controls
  • Decent battery life

The Bad

  • Budget display
  • Basic performance

Amazon has updated its Fire HD8 tablet for 2017, offering better specs, the Alexa assistant and all of the Prime services in one device. Here’s our full review of the upgraded Fire HD8 tablet.

Amazon has been selling own-brand tablets for years now, with fresh updated models emerging every year. The Fire tablets offer impressive value for money, often starting at the £50 mark for the lowest-specced models and rising in price for faster performance and bigger, sharper displays.

The Fire HD8 sits somewhere in the middle of Amazon’s current 2017 line-up. For just £80 you get a solid family tablet that can be passed around the home, with strong support for the Prime services and other Amazon offerings. The retail giant spruced up the device and relaunched it in June 2017, offering built-in support for the Alexa assistant as well as updated specs for a more satisfying user experience.

So is the new Amazon Fire HD8 tablet worth your cash and is it worth upgrading to if you already own an Amazon Fire device like last year's HD8? Here’s our full Fire HD8 2017 review.

Read next: Amazon Fire 7 vs Fire HD8, what's the difference?

Amazon Fire HD8 2017 Review: Design

Amazon’s all-new Fire HD8 2017 tablet isn’t much different from previous models, when it comes to the look and feel. As the name implies it’s an 8-inch device, although that chunky frame is still a struggle to slip inside a handbag or any other small carrier. Thankfully the 369g body isn’t too hefty, so younger users can handle without issue.

That plastic design is pretty rugged, shrugging off bangs and scrapes as if they never happened. A great relief for any parents out there, no doubt. If you have particularly young and violent offspring, however, we’d recommend picking up the Kids Edition version of the HD8. This comes bundled with a foam protector and a no-questions-asked replacement service if the tablet gets damaged, as well as free access to some bonus kids entertainment.

For the rest of us, you can grab the updated HD8 in a couple of funky colours. Besides the boring black model, there are much brighter ‘Canary Yellow’, ‘Punch Red’ and ‘Marine Blue’ efforts.

Amazon Fire HD8 2017 Review: Screen and media

The main reason to snag the Fire HD8 2017 over the cheaper Fire 7 model is the upgraded screen. The HD8 may have a marginally bigger display, but it’s also sharper thanks to the 1280x800 HD resolution.

We would’ve definitely preferred a Full HD panel, as images still aren’t particularly crisp. Smaller text on the likes of book covers is often blocky and unreadable, while you can clearly make out individual pixels if you move your head anywhere near the screen. This display is also rather muted, as you’d expect from a budget device, so colours are far from punchy. That said, you can still lose yourself in movies and shows, even without that finer detail or vibrant image reproduction.

You get either 16GBB or 32GB of storage space on-board, for carrying around your downloaded videos, photos, games and the rest. Not much space, particularly as our 16GB model only came with 10GB of usable space. Thankfully you can bung in a microSD memory card, to expand this when required.

Amazon Fire HD8 2017 Review: Features and OS

If you buy into Amazon’s ecosystem of apps, movies, ebooks and the rest, there’s a much stronger argument for bagging yourself a Fire HD8 2017. After all, this tablet comes pre-loaded with most of Amazon’s own services, including direct links to your Kindle content, Prime Video subscription and so on.

Although based on Android, Amazon’s Fire OS offers a far different interface and user experience. This is based around your content, so you’ll find quick links to any books, shows and so on that you’re busy enjoying on the main screen. From here you can flick left to dive into sub-categories, such as Kindle books, Prime Video and Audible audiobooks.

Read next: How to get free books, mags and comics with Amazon Prime Reading

App fans will love the excellent Amazon Underground store, which offers free apps and free in-app purchases covering pretty much every need. The games selection is particularly well stocked (check out our pick of the best Underground games for inspiration). However, for some reason the Underground app wasn’t pre-installed on the HD8 and we struggled to find any links anywhere. Head over to our guide to Amazon Underground to see how to download and get started with the free apps service.

From the settings menu, you’ll find plenty of great Amazon features tucked away too. For instance, you can set up individual profiles for each member of your household, so everyone can customise their desktops. With that done you can also set parental controls for blocking specific content (such as web access and store access) and setting curfews for your kids’ profiles.

One of the biggest updates is the Alexa assistant, which now comes pre-installed; although it's actually possible to get Alexa on any Android device, so this isn't a reason to upgrade by any means. Alexa can search for content across the range of Prime services as well as online. She can also help out with other tasks, such as helping you to stay organised or controlling supported smart home devices using just your voice.

For a run-through of the Amazon Fire HD8 2017’s operating system, interface and major features, check out our full unboxing and hands-on tour video below.

Amazon Fire HD8 2017 Review: Performance and battery life

With its basic 1.3GHz quad-core chipset, backed by just 1.5GB of memory, you can expect reasonably budget performance from the HD8 2017. Not a massive shocker give the sub-£100 asking price.

All the same, this updated Amazon Fire tablet can still be used to browse the web, enjoy some ebooks, stream a bit of your favourite show and so on. You can even play games, without much of a stutter. Just don’t push it too hard or you’ll see some serious stuttering.

Battery life is pretty solid too, offering all-day use from a single charge. That includes plenty of video streaming, reading and messing around online.

Amazon Fire HD8 2017 Review: Verdict

If you want an affordable tablet for the whole family, the new Fire HD8 2017 is a solid choice - as long as you buy into Amazon’s ecosystem, of course. You get full parental controls and fast access to all of your content, including those awesome Prime services and the ever-growing Alexa assistant. Considering the low asking price, the specs aren’t too shabby either.

Key Specs

  • 8-inches
  • 1280x800
  • 369g
  • Android w/Fire OS
  • VGA
  • 2-megapixel
  • 1.3GHz quad-core
  • 1.5GB
  • 16/32GB + microSD
  • No
  • Alexa

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