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Theodore Nesterov
Theodore Nesterov

Great Balls Of FireHD

I've long called the Fire HD 8 the Goldilocks tablet, because it does a great job of balancing price, performance, and specs to meet the budget and use cases of most people. It's not only the best Amazon tablet for most people, but it's also probably the best overall tablet for most people, at least when you consider those factors I mentioned. Is it particularly powerful? No. Is it exciting? Eh, not really. Is it well-made? Well, it's well-enough made.

Great Balls of FireHD

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It's probably no surprise that the cameras on this tablet aren't great. That doesn't bother me personally, as I would only ever use the rear-facing camera in a worst-case scenario. The front-facing camera is honestly good enough for your Zoom, Skype, or Alexa video calls with Grandma, particularly since the webcam on her laptop probably isn't much better.

One of the things that bothered me most about the Fire HD 8 was that it is a fingerprint magnet, the likes of which I've never seen before. The matte plastic coating on the rear showed every touchmark, and the front looked greasy when the screen was turned off. I don't always advocate for cases or covers on tablets, but in this case, I'd advise you to go ahead and grab one. I'm partial to the first-party flip covers, but there are a ton of great third-party options as well. While you're at it, grab a screen protector, and be sure to check out the first-party Mickey Mouse and National Geographic covers, too!

If you fall in the latter category here, there are some great Android tablets you may want to consider, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 which received high praise here on Android Central, or one of my personal favorites, the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab with Google Assistant. Alternatively, Apple's iPad 10.2 is a great choice for anyone looking for a powerful, affordable tablet.

I said at the beginning of this review that I wasn't overly excited by this new Fire HD 8, but that does not mean it's not a great device. This is hands-down the tablet that I would recommend to 90% of folks who ask my opinion on such things. So do I think you should buy one? Probably so.

Yes, there are other decent-to-great Android tablets out there, but those tend to cost two, three, even five or more times above and beyond what the Fire HD 8 costs, and even though their build quality is better, the overall experience isn't noticeably so. The other option is to purchase one of Apple's admittedly fantastic iPads, but that brings a whole new operating system with it, new apps you might have to repurchase, and even the cheapest iPad is more than three times the price of the Fire HD 8.

The tablet for the massesThe 2020 edition of the Fire HD 8 made all the necessary improvements that you'd expect over the 2018 version, and honestly, that's more than enough for most people. It still provides a reliable device at a great value, and we can still recommend it as the default tablet to get.

A charming puzzle-platformer with a great script, Thomas Was Alone puts players in the role of Thomas, a small rectangular A.I. who must navigate the various levels and guide other programs to exits in the levels. Like Thomas, the other A.I.s are represented by shapes, and each shape has a unique personality and abilities. Progressing through levels will require players to make use of the various talents of the shapes. Along the way, narration provided by British comedian Danny Wallace fills in the blanks regarding the characters and the world they inhabit. Thomas Was Alone is not a long game, but its colorful aesthetic and wit make it very endearing.

One of the great success stories of the so-called freemium pricing model, Crossy Road is a free-to-play game modeled on the classic arcade game Frogger. The game is simple: Players choose a mascot and attempt to cross as many roads and other obstacles as possible without being slain by the hazards in their way. Players can tap to move forward, or swipe to move left or right. In addition to earning points based on distance traveled, the player also collects coins throughout the levels. These coins can be used to unlock new characters.

If you like building creative solutions to problems, or if you simply find yourself drawn to adorable critters, World of Goo may be perfect for you. A puzzle game unlike any other, World of Goo presents players with a series of environmental puzzles. Players will start on one side of a stage with their collection of goo balls, tiny sentient creatures made of goo that can combine to form structures. Each stage provides the player with a set number of goo balls, and players must use them to form structures to reach a pipe somewhere in the level.

Have you ever wanted to experience the soul-destroying grind of working in the video game industry without having to put in the 70 hour work weeks required? Now you can, with Game Dev Story! GDS puts you in the role of owner of a video game developer. You must hire (and even fire) employees, balance budgets, and try to ship the best products you can. You might even win some game of the year awards! The gaming industry is perilous, however, and life may throw you some humorous curveballs. Fans of management sims will find none better than Game Dev Story on the app store.

Even though Apple Wallet and Google Wallet are becoming the rage, they haven't yet completely eliminated the need to carry a physical wallet. Sure, these technologies are great at handling payment and loyalty cards, but digital IDs are still in the very early stages, and it will likely be years before you can leave your driver's license at home. As such, it's still a great idea to carry a physical wallet. And if you're doing that, you may as well make sure it's one of the best smart wallets out there.

Did you know Amazon has warehouse-store-like offerings? It's true. And while Amazon has great everyday prices on bulk paper towels, coffee pods, baby wipes and more, you can save an extra 20% when you spend at least $50.

Spring cleaning season is also a great time to refresh your kitchen and bedding -- plus it's National Sleep Awareness month so now is a good time to think about how you've been sleeping and invest in new bedding or pillows to help you get the best rest possible this spring.

While watching an episode of Fleabag in 1080p on the Amazon Fire HD 10, I was reminded that Amazon can make a great tablet screen, provided that you pony up for the 10-inch model. I saw details in the hair, wrinkled brow and stubble of the "hot priest" (that's his name). The ferns outside Fleabag's cafe had a strong green hue, and the red painting in her godmother's studio stood out.

As I tapped between Amazon's various directories of content, the device outperformed my low standards for its no-name CPU, though there was still a bit of a pause as I moved from tab to tab in Amazon's Silk web browser. I think that might just be the Silk browser, as I saw a visual stutter in the new tab animation when opening a second tab. I'm not sure there are many great alternatives, either; the privacy-first DuckDuckGo is in the Fire OS app store, but it allows only one tab at a time, which is a problem.

The front camera is VGA quality and the rear is 2.0 MP. Picture quality is okay; 2 MP isn't great, and there's no flash of course. The single speaker on the Fire HD 6 is okay too, it's just loud enough to be useful and the sound quality isn't as good as the HDX.

Fire HD tablets are good music playing devices, and they sound great with headphones. They integrate nicely with Amazon's MP3 store, and most songs have free samples you can listen to before buying. You can stream music from Amazon or download it locally. And you can even upload your entire existing music collection using Amazon's Cloud Player. The first 5GB of free space is free, and then plans start at $10 per year for 20GB.

Dropbox is a go-to app for sending and receiving large files, as well as a great means to keep all your commonly-accessed files in one place. You'll have to seek out an alternative if the Kindle Fire HD is going to be your primary tablet.

All Fire Kids tablets include a complimentary, one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, a service that typically costs $48 a year for Prime customers and $79 a year for everyone else. This subscription unlocks thousands of books, videos, games, and Alexa Skills. Even if you already have a Kids+ subscription from an older tablet, when you activate a new Fire Kids tablet, Amazon will renew the service by another year, which is great.

And while the iPad is definitely faster for everyday use and is a great option for older kids who are already familiar with iPhones, its larger 10.9-inch display, when caseless, is more prone to damage than that of the Fire HD 8 Kids tablet. At the higher price point, the iPad may not be the most cost-efficient investment.

When it comes down to it, the $150 Amazon Fire HD 8 is a great, child-friendly tablet for education, games, and entertainment. Its 13-hour battery life means that you'll need to charge it less often than other competitors, and the combination of a durable case and screen ensures the integrity of the Fire tablet for years to come. The Fire HD 8 Kids tablet is a perfect first tablet, and I've loved that my kids have been able to use the previous model for years now. I fully expect this new model to last just as long, if not longer. 041b061a72


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