The Fire HD 10 fulfills Amazon’s simple plan for its tablets: Like other Fires, it’s an inexpensive ($149.99 with lock screen ads) way to consume your Amazon content. At first glance, it doesn’t appear to be the barn-burning deal that the Fire HD 8 is, but it still offers plenty of bang for your buck. You get a sharp 1080p display, solid overall performance, and an easy-to-use UI that includes parental controls and Alexa voice assistant integration. The Fire HD 10 is simply the best 10-inch tablet for the price, earning it our Editors’ Choice.
Design and Features
The Fire HD 10 looks and feels like a larger Fire HD 8. It’s a solidly built tablet with a black, blue, or orange plastic body. The slate measures 10.3 by 6.3 by 0.4 (HWD) and weighs 17.4 ounces. That’s bigger than the 8-inch HD 8 (8.4 by 5.0 by 0.4 inches, 13
There are loud dual speakers on the left side (or the bottom if you’re holding it in landscape orientation), along with a standard headphone jack, a USB port, and a microSD card slot to supplement the 32GB of internal storage; it worked fine with a 256GB card.
The HD 10 has a 10.1-inch, 1,920-by-1,200-pixel screen, which is better than the 1,280-by-800 screens most of the competition
The Fire HD 10 supports dual-band Wi-Fi, unlike the Lenovo Tab 4 10. Connected to the 5GHz network at PC Labs and 30 feet from the router, we drew top speeds of 149Mbps down and 138Mbps up. Speeds dropped farther
Processor, Battery, and Camera
Inside, the Fire HD 10 runs Amazon’s latest Fire OS 5.5 (a heavily modified version of Google’s Android) on a 1.8GHz MT8173B MediaTek processor. In Geekbench’s single core and multicore performance tests, the HD 10 scored 1500 and 3000 respectively, more than double the HD 8 (629/1687). It also outperformed the Tab 4 10 by a similar margin (680/1898).
The HD 10’s more powerful processor and 2GB of RAM make for a more responsive UI, smoother overall performance, and better multitasking than the HD 8. Web browsing using the default Silk browser is fast, and the slate had no trouble streaming 1080p video and opening multiple tabs. The only time I encountered any stuttering was when scrolling through my extensive Kindle library collection.
Ultimately, it’s no match for Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad, which has a faster Apple A9 processor, not to mention a sharper screen. But it costs less than half as much, so these differences are easy to get past.
Battery life is solid. When streaming full-screen video over Wi-Fi at maximum brightness, the tablet clocked 6 hours, 14 minutes. That’s a couple of hours short of the Tab 4 10 (8 hours, 11 minutes), but over an hour longer than the HD 8 (4 hours, 42 minutes). It should be enough juice to keep kids entertained during a long car ride, and you can always supplement it with a portable charger. Enabling Low Power mode and Automatic Smart Suspend helps extend runtime by tamping down screen brightness and turning off wireless connectivity when it’s not in use.
The tablet’s cameras are almost an afterthought: VGA on the front and 2MP on the back, they’re primarily for video chatting. They’re fine for that, but render muddy, blurry images in any mildly challenging circumstances.
Software and Ecosystem
Amazon’s Fire OS is based on Android and runs Android apps, but you can’t access the Google Play store—you can only use Amazon’s. Amazon’s store has a lot of competing media services (Netflix and Hulu are no
Amazon’s OS looks nothing like Android; rather, it’s a carousel of your downloadable Amazon content and apps. The tablet includes a new screen on the carousel, For You, that shows what you were most recently reading or watching and encourages you to get back to it. Under that, of course, there are plenty of promotions for other things to buy from Amazon that you might like.
Hands-free Alexa is available here. You can yell out “Alexa!” and have the tablet respond to any Alexa-compatible query even when the screen is off, like an Amazon Echo. A new Show Mode feature essentially turns the HD 10 into an Echo Show. When paired with a $54.99 Show Mode Charging Dock, things like time, date, notifications, weather, directions, recipes, and news briefings can all be displayed on its screen through voice commands.
That said, I wouldn’t replace your old Echo with an HD 10 just yet. While the tablet’s microphone is pretty responsive when you’re close by, distance and background noise can throw things off. A conversation taking place in the background while I was issuing commands confused Alexa, while the Echo Dot had no trouble picking up on my voice. And while sound quality is about on par with the Dot, it doesn’t come close to any of the other Echos.
Parental controls allow you to set up multiple accounts for kids, each with separate passwords, with a curated set of apps, restrictions on in-app purchases, time limits, and web browsing limitations. There’s also a child-friendly background and a simplified interface. Access to Alexa is blocked when parental controls are enabled, preventing any attempt to circumvent the restrictions.
A new HD 10 Kids Edition costs an additional $50 and adds a durable “kid-proof” case, a two-year warranty against all damage and breakages, and a one-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited, which provides 15,000 pieces of hand-curated content in the form of books and movies.
When it comes to preloaded software, naturally you have Amazon’s entire app suite onboard, along with some default apps and utilities like Contacts and Calendar. Out of 32GB of internal storage, you have 24.3GB available for use. It’s plenty for your Kindle library and a fair amount of video. If you plan to download a lot of apps and multimedia, you can always pop in a microSD card.
Comparisons and Conclusions
At $149.99, the Fire HD 10 undercuts most entry-level Android tablets by $30 to $50. You pay for the discount with lock screen ads (which you can get rid of by paying $15) and a tablet that’s completely tuned to display Amazon content, with no Google Play store.
As is typical with Amazon, you’re getting the best hardware value per dollar here, as the Fire HD 10 costs less than the Lenovo Tab 4 10, for instance, has more RAM and storage than the Acer Iconia One 10, and has a higher-resolution screen than either. If you can live without Google Play, the choice is clear.
Among Amazon’s own tablets, deciding which to buy is a bit harder. For half the price, the smaller Fire HD 8 and Fire 7 get you access to the same ecosystem of apps and content for even less money. The HD 8 is our Editors’ Choice for affordable mid-size slates. The HD 10, while more expensive, boasts a bigger, sharper screen, a more powerful processor, and more RAM. We think that makes it a justifiable upgrade if you want the larger display. It also makes it our Editors’ Choice for low-cost, big-screen tablets.