The new Amazon Fire HD 10 is one of those products that doesn’t look all that exciting from the outside. It’s physically identical to the model it replaces and although it is available in two new colours, if you were to put the old and the new models side by side you’d struggle to tell the difference between them.
There’s plenty that’s new, however, not least the addition of Amazon’s digital voice assistant, Alexa. It’s the first time outside the Echo range of products that Amazon has introduced hands-free Alexa mode; with the other Fire HD tablets and current TV streamers, you have to press a button to activate voice recognition. So, is the new HD 10 worth the investment?
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) review: Price and competition
The Fire HD 10 can be found for £150 with 32GB of storage space. Pay an extra £30 and you’ll get double the amount, 64GB. You might want to consider buying a microSD card, instead – as the new HD 10 has 256GB of expandable storage.
Very much like the rest of the Amazon-line, you can pay an extra £10 to remove lockscreen ads. The tablet is available in Black and the two new vibrant colours: Marine Blue and Punch Red.
As for competition, there’s the 4G-enabled Vodafone Smart Tab N8 that costs £129 and the smaller Amazon HD 8 that starts at £80.
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) review: Key specs
- 10.1in 1,920 x 1,200 resolution IPS display
- Quad-core 1.8GHz MediaTek MT8173 processor
- 2GB RAM
- 32GB/64GB of storage
- microSD card slot (supports of up to 256GB)
- Dolby Atmos stereo speakers
- 2MP rear, VGA front cameras
- Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac
- Available in blue, red and black
- Price: £150, 32GB; £180, 64GB (with lockscreen ads); add £10 to remove lockscreen ads
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) review: Hands-free Alexa
The new HD 10 doesn’t have a far-field microphone array onboard, but nevertheless, in my tests, I found the tablet to pick up my voice accurately at over 10m. This means I don’t have to be next to the tablet for it to work. Better still, the tablet doesn’t have to be unlocked to work, though, Alexa cannot unlock your device – you’ll still need to input your password or pin for that.
Say “Alexa… play some Daft Punk”, “Alexa… turn up my lights”, or Alexa… what’s the weather going to be like today?” and the tablet will work just like an Echo or Echo Dot without any kind of physical intervention. Plus, as with the Fire TV Stick, the results are accompanied by a full-screen graphical information card.
The hands-free controls remind me of the Amazon Echo-family. Very much like the Echo’s physical button that disables the microphone, the new HD 10 also has a similar function. From the drop-down notification bar, you can disable the hands-free function.
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) review: Display
Alexa isn’t the only improvement Amazon has made to its new budget tablet, though.
The Amazon Fire HD 10’s IPS display is now slightly better than Full HD (1,920 x 1,200) where its predecessor had a 1,280 x 800 screen.
It’s a lot brighter, too. At 455cd/m2 versus last year’s 375cd/m2 peak brightness, the new HD 10 is easier to see under bright sunlit conditions. The screen still lacks that punch, as, with only 84.1% of the sRGB gamut coverage, it lags behind flagship devices. Thankfully, its IPS display is excellent for viewing the tablet at extreme angles.
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) review: Performance
There’s a new quad-core 1.8GHz MediaTek MT8173 processor, which is “30% more powerful”, double the RAM rising from 1GB to 2GB, and, so says Amazon, better battery life, too, with an additional two hours over the previous model.
Put through its paces, I found Amazon’s claims to be quite accurate, with the new tablet achieving a much better Geekbench 3 score. The 2017 HD 10 achieves 1,501 in single-core and 3,096 in the multi-core benchmark. By comparison, last year’s model scores 773 and 1,512 respectively.
Amazon’s battery life claims are also accurate, with the new tablet achieving 11hrs 22mins in our video benchmark, an improvement over last year’s 9hrs 5mins.
The tablet is still a slouch for gaming, though. Achieving only 9.5fps in GFXBench Manhattan 3.0, you cannot expect to play intensive games on the tablet.
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) review: Build quality and features
Amazon has also added Dolby Atmos support and stereo speakers, so the Fire HD 10’s audio has been given a boost as well. Its stereo-speakers are located on the left-hand side of the tablet, which makes it a little awkward with the tablet in a vertical position, but place it horizontally and the upwards (or downwards) facing speakers provide a more engaging and enriching sound.
When it comes to software, the Fire HD 10 is just like other tablets in Amazon’s range. It runs Amazon’s Fire OS (Fire OS 5.5.0), which is based on Android but eschews Google’s apps and Play Store to run its own suite and app store.
Amazon hasn’t left this alone, either: it’s added a new section called “For You” to the UI, which will include recommendations based on what you’ve bought, downloaded or streamed in the past, although this isn’t exclusive to the Fire HD 10 like Alexa. It will make its way to Amazon’s other Fire tablets in due course.
Surprisingly, Amazon has downgraded the tablet’s cameras for the 2017 model, from HD to VGA at the front, and 5 megapixels to 2 megapixels at the rear. But the price makes up for that: it’s £20 cheaper than last year’s model.
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) review: Verdict
Despite first appearances, then, it turns out that there’s a lot to be excited about here. The new Fire HD 10 is a responsive, sturdy tablet that provides stupendously good value. The addition of Alexa hands-free adds an extra dimension and the price reduction comes as a pleasant surprise, especially as every other manufacturer seems to be raising prices right now, not cutting them.
If you’re looking for an excellent 10.1in tablet, get the new Amazon Fire HD 10.