This is Amazon’s (mellow music) – Fire HD 8 Plus tablet. It is running Android. Well, technically, it’s Amazon’s Fire OS, but we’ll get to that. The base model of the FireHD 8 costs just 90 bucks, and this model with a little more RAM and wireless charging is $110. And you can also get it witha wireless charging dock that turns it into a little Echo Show for 140 bucks as a bundle. And you know what? This thing is great,I mean, it’s terrible. It’s juttery and it’s slow,and it’s really limited in app selection withouta bunch of hacking, but also, it is great,just not terribly great. Look, you get what you payfor with this thing, sure, but what you pay for isn’tjust the $110 for this tablet, it’s maybe also $120 ayear for Amazon Prime. And if you pay for Amazon Prime, this tablet gets much more interesting. If you’ve ever watchedme talk about tablets on video before, you’ve probably seen me take a swipe at Android tablets. I mean, like a joke swipe,not a literal interface swipe. Look, there just aren’tthat many Android tablets left anymore, especially here in the U.S., where even Samsung has struggled to get any kind of realtraction with them. Google’s also basicallygiven up on Android tablets.

 

The last thing they reallytried was this right here. This is the Pixel Slate running Chrome OS, but also Android apps, andit really didn’t go so well. The best and, in my opinion, the only truly great Androidtablet was the Nexus 7, the second generation one,from all the way back in 2013. And really, that thing was only good because it acted like a big phone, and that’s basically what you’ve got here with the Fire HD 8 Plus. It is kinda like a really big phone. So it sort of acts like a big phone, but it doesn’t really have the specs you’d expect from a big phone. It’s got a quad-core MediaTekMT8168 processor in it that runs at two gigahertz. This Plus version has three gigs of RAM and 32 gigs of storage,but you could upgrade to 64 if you want, or you could put in your own Micro SD card in the slot. The screen is 1280×800,which at eight inches, is not the most pixel-densething you’re ever gonna see. There are a couple of cameras,they’re both two megapixels. You should only use themfor video calls, if at all. They’re pretty bad.

 

There is USB-C for charging, finally, and a headphone jack, hooray. If you know Android, youknow that those specs are enough to launch some appsand run most of your apps, but it’s not nearly enoughto make any of it feel fast. And, again, this thing runs Fire OS, which is Amazon’s version of Android, and that also means ituses Amazon’s app store instead of Google’s, so a lot of the time, the app that you’re gonnaneed just might not be there. I mean, it’s got the basics. I’ve got Messenger andZoom and some games, but you can’t get Google appswithout doing some hacking, and that’s a huge pain. But, again, this costs 110 bucks, and I think that the bundlethat costs 30 bucks extra that gets you the wirelesscharger is totally worth it. It puts the tablet into Show Mode, which turns this into a Echo smart display with decent-ish speakers for a tablet, but it won’t be as good as an Echo Show. But, for me, it’s just so much convenient to have a wireless charger, and it makes this thing feellike it’s a part of my home, in addition to the addedAlexa functionality. Okay, so why would youget this thing over, say, an Echo Show? Well, two words: Consuming content.

 

If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, it’s easy to forget justhow much free stuff you get as part of your subscription. Amazon Prime video has all oftheir Amazon Prime Originals, but it also has a bunchof TV shows and movies that they’ve licensed from other studios, and a bunch of ’em aren’t bad. Like, you can stream theentire series of “Psyche,” which is the most wholesomeshow from the late 2000s, or “Burn Notice,” also wholesome. Anyway, they’re great. You could also get Prime Music, which is a totally respectable radio-style music streaming service. It’s not Spotify orApple Music or anything, but it’s included. You can get Amazon Photos, which is a totally respectablephoto storage service. There’s Prime Reading, which gives you a bunch of free books, andagain, some of ’em aren’t bad. I am also a Kindle user, so ithas my entire Kindle library. So, Amazon good, freestuff on a cheap tablet. And it doesn’t really matter that it’s kind of a slow tablet, becauseall you’re really doing is getting to the videoor the book or the music. And, actually, most of the video apps you care about are available. Netflix and Hulu and HBOwhatever-it’s-called now.

 

There is a YouTube app, butit’s a web app, and it works. But, also, Amazon bad,because there is a lot of upselling going on on this tablet. I’m already a $120 ayear Prime subscriber, but they want me to signup for Kindle Unlimited, which is a book subscription service, or maybe set up for Starzor some other cable channel via their cable channelsubscription service, or get Audible, a audiobooksubscription service, or Prime Music Unlimited, amusic subscription service, or get subscriptions to newspapers or magazines through Amazon. It’s just a minefield up upsells. And also, speaking of selling stuff, the home screen has theAmazon store right on it, which is very dangerous for me. It is a whack-a-mole for ways that you could pay Amazon more money, but instead of trying tohit the little buggers, you’re trying to avoid them. All right, Amazon good, Amazon bad. Amazon actually really good, because the Fire tablets have a kids mode that has really strong parental controls. In fact, Fire tablets fullysupport multi-user accounts, and so this tablet can really feel like it belongs to the entire family. You could have default everybody account that uses the Alexa stuff. You could also have a separateaccount for each person who might wanna use it, withall of their personal email and whatever else. The iPad still can’t do that.

 

So you get an inexpensiveknockaround tablet that runs (grunts), and feelslike it’s a part of your house instead of your tabletthat you have to loan out to your entire family. Oh, and you know what? Batter life is really good. Depending on the screenbrightness, which isn’t that high, you should expect eight to10 hours of watching video. That’s what I’m getting. And it also charges a little bit faster because it’s got USB-C here. The nine-watt charger that comes with it charges this thing up20% in a half an hour. A faster charger can getyou an even faster charge. $110 tablet that lets me watch, basically, any video or read anybook, what’s not to love? Well, you know, using it to do anything other than open up a videoapp or a Kindle book, because, again, it’s slow. If you can afford it, eventhe lowest-end $329 iPad has a bigger screen, runscircles around this thing in terms of speed andhas more and better apps. The Fire HD 8, it’s gonnafeel slower than your phone, even if your phone is a few years old. But, look, slow is okayif you’re just using it to open up Prime Video orNetflix or a Kindle book, and slow doesn’t matter forrunning Alexa in Show Mode. It doesn’t need speed. If you try and do more than that stuff, this thing is terrible, but if you don’t, it’s actually pretty great. Hey, everybody, thanksso much for watching.

 

I really hope I didn’t setoff your smart speaker. I did my very, very best not to say Alexa. Let me know in the comments if I did. And if you’re looking forother great videos to watch, Verge Science just madea really good video about how SpaceX sent humans to the International Space Station.

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