Last month, Amazon first gave us a first look at its refreshed Fire HD 10 and other new tablets. With sleeker designs, improved performance, and new multitasking features, the latest releases are now shipping as of today, and we’re taking a hands-on look to see if the upgrades this time actually deliver. Head below for all of the details on if the new Fire HD 10 can live up to its promise of being a productivity powerhouse or if it’ll stay relegated to a content consumption machine.
Back at the end of April, Amazon launched its latest collection of new Fire HD devices, with refreshed designs spanning three different offerings. Amazon sent us over one of the new 10-inch offerings, which clocks in at $149.99 and arrives as the entry-level model amongst the updated lineup.
Hands-on with Amazon’s new Fire HD 10
It’s been quite a while since I’ve spent any time with a Fire tablet, which is to say how surprised I was by how nice the tablet felt. While the unboxing experience is nothing quite as premium as what you’d expect from Apple, the Fire HD 10 has a solid feel in its own right. Normally, cheap comes to mind when you think of plastic, but the material used here strikes a chord with balancing affordability with a form factor that feels good in hand.
While I can’t speak to just how much better the more slimmed-down side is compared to previous models, it still leaves a good first impression on me. So the hardware aspect of Amazon’s Fire HD 10 refresh definitely amounts to a notable upgrade.
And speaking of hardware, under the hood, there’s a new octa-core processor that pairs with 3GB of RAM. The memory is double what we saw last time around, and in practice, that seems to be making quite a bit of a difference. The interfaces all seem quite snappy after using the Fire HD 10 over the last day, and switching between apps is quite consistent as well.
That double RAM also comes into play with one of the more notable updates on the software side of things, Split-Screen apps. And the first of Amazon’s tablets to be able to run two apps side by side, the Fire HD 10 makes good use of its space for catching up on your favorites shows on one side while checking up on social media on the other. But actual productivity, which is what this feature is aimed at, is another story we’ll have to get back to.
You’re also looking at 32GB of storage on the base model, which can be expanded further thanks to an onboard microSD card slot. That, alongside the dual speakers and 10.1-inch 1080p screen, lends itself towards a pretty solid content consumption machine for the price. The picture quality isn’t necessarily best-in-class for tablets this size, but it gets plenty bright for reading during the day or just kicking back in bed to binge some Netflix.
Latest Amazon Fire HD 10 case is a must-have
Amazon also refreshed its fabric case for the Fire HD 10, which was sent to me as well. While the hardware of the tablet isn’t meant to compete with the like of an iPad, the accessory manages to deliver a more premium-feeling design than Apple’s official cases. It clips onto the back of the tablet and features a pretty nifty origami design that folds out into a kickstand. It’s an additional $39.99 purchase, but it feels like it’s a curious add-on to complete the latest Fire HD 10 experience in my book.
Productivity, not quite as promised
But now, back to the multitasking functionality. One of the main selling points this time around for the refreshed tablet was that Amazon is incorporating side-by-side app usage for the fire time. And it’s certainly a big deal for a tablet these days! Casual users are bound to enjoy the added feature for more laidback use cases, but that’s about it from my experience. The functionality isn’t so robust as to actually lend itself to getting real work done, and trying to do too much on the Fire HD 10, like running a large excel document alongside watching videos, doesn’t deliver the best experience.
At the end of the day, Amazon knows exactly what the latest Fire HD is for — almost. It’s proved to be a really great content consumption device for those looking to grab a dedicated gadget for reading eBooks, catching up on news, or watching videos. The 1080p screen is just the right size and certainly delivers as solid of an experience on this front as they come.
But where I think Amazon misses the mark a little is with the productivity branding. While I wasn’t lucky enough get my hands-on the new keyboard accessory or higher-end Fire HD 10 Plus, from what I can test out on the baseline model, there’s a bit of a gap between real world use and marketing materials.
Don’t get me wrong — it’s a great all-around tablet for someone who doesn’t need all of the horsepower of a full laptop, especially family members who may only surf the web for social media and the like. It’s just not ready to step up to the big leagues of being a tablet I’d recommend solely for being productive.
Though, if you’re ever in a pinch, the ability to actually type up some reports for school or edit an Excel spreadsheet will certainly be appreciated. It’s great that Amazon stepped up the multitasking functionality and is a worthy addition, just maybe not the sole reason you should buy the Fire HD 10.
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