- Built around great Amazon content offerings
- Excellent kid's mode
- Superb customer support
- Offline viewing an excellent Prime perk
- Lousy display and speakers
- Sluggish performance
- $99 Prime membership required to get the most out of it
Quick TakeAt the right price, the Amazon Fire HD 10 is tough to beat, especially for the kind of user that just wants something simple to stay connected and pass the time.
Looking past low prices, the Amazon Fire tablets have a certain appeal. While Apple, Google, and Microsoft blur the line between tablets and PCs with 2-in-1 designs and productivity features, Amazon stands firm with tablets built primarily for consuming content, specifically, Amazon content.
Of course, it helps that Amazon has arguably the largest content library around, including an app store loaded with free stuff. It also helps that Amazon’s Fire OS is designed with easy access to Amazon’s eBooks, Prime movies, and the rest in mind. And it really helps that Amazon has amazing customer support through its screen-sharing service.
We had good things to say about another fifth-generation Amazon tablet, but that had more to do with its $50 price tag than it did the device quality. How does its larger counterpart, the $230 Amazon Fire HD 10, hold up? Read on to find out.
Build & Design
Let the Amazon Fire HD 10’s aspect ratio dispel any doubt this tablet was built for watching movies. It’s 16:10, which can best be described as “cinematic,” and is a departure from the boxier 3:2 and 4:3 ratios found on all iPads, as well as more recent Android and Windows tablets.
This results in a rectangular device, that’s long in landscape and short in portrait. The actual dimensions are 10.3 x 6.3 x 0.3 inches, with a weight of .95 pounds. This makes it a bit heavier and thicker than the premium tablets with similarly-sized displays, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 9.7, but well in line with others in the HD 10’s price class.
The Fire HD 10 features rounded corners and edges, along with an all-plastic build. The back panel has a little give, but the tablet doesn’t feel cheap. Plastic gets a bad rap as a build material because it doesn’t feel or look as good aluminum or glass. But the fact is that glass splinters and shatters, and aluminum dents. Plastic is light, holds up well, repels fingerprints, and offers decent drop protection. We won’t complain about it here.
Looking at it in landscape, the left side houses the power button, microUSB 2.0 input, pinhole mic, 3.5mm audio jack, and two-piece volume rocker. The 5-megapixel rear shooter sits on the upper right corner, just opposite the power button.
The rectangular design makes things a more unwieldy than a boxier build, but the Fire HD 10 is light enough that it shouldn’t trouble users. Amazon went with a glossy plastic, which may look nice under lights, but makes the Fire HD 10 a bit harder to grip than would textured plastic. It will likely survive a drop or two (and we suspect it would beat an aluminum iPad in a drop test). But as with all tablets, we still recommend a protective case.
Display & Speakers
True to its name, the Amazon Fire HD 10 has a 10.1-inch IPS LCD display with a 1280 x 800 resolution, resulting in a density of 149 pixels per inch.
Other tablets in this class have a similar pixel density, which is low compared to flagships that top 260 ppi. At this level, it’s easy to notice individual pixels, and this display lacks sharpness. More unique to the Fire HD 10 is that it also looks drab. Colors lack pop, contrast is poor, and it’s often tough to discern white text and numbers over background images. Like all tablets its size, overhead glare is a constant issue. It’s just not a good display.
To be fair, even a bad tablet display is still acceptable. It’s easy to ignore the Fire HD 10’s flaws once invested in an engaging movie or TV show. However, it’s something to consider when choosing between the Fire HD 10 and Fire HD 8 or Fire HD 6. All three have the same resolution, but the other two have a higher pixel density because they are smaller (189 and 252, respectively). So the choice here is whether you want a larger display, or a slightly better display. There’s no right answer. It all comes down to personal preference.
The Fire HD 10’s top-mounted speakers are also mediocre; but this is par for the course when it comes to tablets. They are loud and clear enough to do the trick, but you’ll want to use headphones more often than not.