Amazon’s $110 tablet is great and terrible

(mellow music) – This is Amazon's 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 Fire
HD 8 costs just 90 bucks, and this model with a little more RAM and wireless charging is $110. And you can also get it with
a 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 without
a bunch of hacking, but also, it is great,
just not terribly great. Look, you get what you pay
for with this thing, sure, but what you pay for isn't
just the $110 for this tablet, it's maybe also $120 a
year for Amazon Prime. And if you pay for Amazon Prime, this tablet gets much more interesting. If you've ever watched
me 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't
that many Android tablets left anymore, especially here in the U.S., where even Samsung has struggled to get any kind of real
traction with them. Google's also basically
given up on Android tablets. The last thing they really
tried was this right here. This is the Pixel Slate running Chrome OS, but also Android apps, and
it really didn't go so well. The best and, in my opinion, the only truly great Android
tablet 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 MediaTek
MT8168 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-dense
thing you're ever gonna see. There are a couple of cameras,
they're both two megapixels. You should only use them
for 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, you
know that those specs are enough to launch some apps
and run most of your apps, but it's not nearly enough
to make any of it feel fast.

And, again, this thing runs Fire OS, which is Amazon's version of Android, and that also means it
uses Amazon's app store instead of Google's, so a lot of the time, the app that you're gonna
need just might not be there. I mean, it's got the basics. I've got Messenger and
Zoom and some games, but you can't get Google apps
without doing some hacking, and that's a huge pain. But, again, this costs 110 bucks, and I think that the bundle
that costs 30 bucks extra that gets you the wireless
charger 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 feel
like it's a part of my home, in addition to the added
Alexa functionality. Okay, so why would you
get this thing over, say, an Echo Show? Well, two words: Consuming content. If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, it's easy to forget just
how much free stuff you get as part of your subscription.

Amazon Prime video has all of
their Amazon Prime Originals, but it also has a bunch
of TV shows and movies that they've licensed from other studios, and a bunch of 'em aren't bad. Like, you can stream the
entire series of "Psyche," which is the most wholesome
show 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 or
Apple Music or anything, but it's included. You can get Amazon Photos, which is a totally respectable
photo storage service. There's Prime Reading, which gives you a bunch of free books, and
again, some of 'em aren't bad. I am also a Kindle user, so it
has my entire Kindle library. So, Amazon good, free
stuff on a cheap tablet. And it doesn't really matter that it's kind of a slow tablet, because
all you're really doing is getting to the video
or the book or the music. And, actually, most of the video apps you care about are available. Netflix and Hulu and HBO
whatever-it's-called now. There is a YouTube app, but
it'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 a
year Prime subscriber, but they want me to sign
up for Kindle Unlimited, which is a book subscription service, or maybe set up for Starz
or some other cable channel via their cable channel
subscription service, or get Audible, a audiobook
subscription service, or Prime Music Unlimited, a
music 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 the
Amazon 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 to
hit 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 fully
support 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 separate
account for each person who might wanna use it, with
all of their personal email and whatever else. The iPad still can't do that. So you get an inexpensive
knockaround tablet that runs (grunts), and feels
like it's a part of your house instead of your tablet
that you have to loan out to your entire family. Oh, and you know what? Batter life is really good.

Depending on the screen
brightness, which isn't that high, you should expect eight to
10 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 up
20% in a half an hour. A faster charger can get
you an even faster charge. $110 tablet that lets me watch, basically, any video or read any
book, what's not to love? Well, you know, using it to do anything other than open up a video
app or a Kindle book, because, again, it's slow.

If you can afford it, even
the lowest-end $329 iPad has a bigger screen, runs
circles around this thing in terms of speed and
has more and better apps. The Fire HD 8, it's gonna
feel slower than your phone, even if your phone is a few years old. But, look, slow is okay
if you're just using it to open up Prime Video or
Netflix or a Kindle book, and slow doesn't matter for
running 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, thanks
so much for watching. I really hope I didn't set
off 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 for
other great videos to watch, Verge Science just made
a really good video about how SpaceX sent humans to the International Space Station..

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