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If your computing needs are casual and you would best be served by a tablet rather than a laptop or computer, you may want the all-new Amazon Fire HD 10.
It has a high-definition 10.1-inch widescreen display with 16:10 aspect ratio, making it ideal for your entertainment needs. It displays a respectable 1,920 by 1,200 pixels at 224 pixels per inch.
You can enjoy e-books, movies, videos, TV shows, games, apps and music.
It also features dual stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos, a built-in microphone for video calls, and enhanced Bluetooth to connect wireless speakers or an optional keyboard.
Amazon’s ninth generation model has been updated from a 1.8GHz quad-core to a 2.0 GHz eight-core processor 30 per cent faster than its predecessor. Its battery life has been bumped up by 20 per cent to 12 hours of mixed use. With its built-in picture-in-picture function, you now can watch video while checking your email.
It has a minimum 32 GB of built-in storage (or 64 GB) and is now easily expandable to 512 GB (up from 256 GB) by simply purchasing an optional micro SD card. The rear camera remains at two megapixels (circa 2012), very light by today’s standards, with the front camera bumped up from VGA resolution to standard high-definition 720 pixels. Another notable change is the use of standard USB-C for charging.
While the Fire HD 10 has a robust polycarbonate shell, its look is fairly plain, with a simple Amazon swoop on the back. It certainly doesn’t have the sleekness of an iPad or higher-end Android tablets.
Comparatively, an entry-level iPad has a significantly more powerful processor, an eight-megapixel camera that you can do some serious photography with and a front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera with retina flash. The iPad takes advantage of Apple’s full iOS operating system and with literally millions of apps can virtually replace your computer – and you can operate it with an Apple pencil.
Fire HD runs it own operating system, Fire OS, a customized version of Android 9.0 Pie. It’s designed for functionality and not necessarily for those who need to be on the leading edge of technology. The front-facing camera is adequate for video calls and the back camera is passible for simple screen resolution photos given adequate lighting conditions. It offers limited Google services, and a smaller app offering so you won’t get access to the full library of apps and games the Google Play Store has to offer.
It does, however, offer some accessibility features that may be handy. Its VoiceView screen reader enables access to the vast majority of Fire tablet features for users who are visually impaired, using text-to-speech or a connected refreshable braille display. The screen magnifier lets users zoom in and out, as well as pan around the screen. In addition, there are accessibility settings for closed captioning, font size, high contrast text and colour.
If you’re looking for the basics, this tablet can be perfect for those who are connected to the Amazon eco-system and subscribe to Amazon Prime or Prime Video.
And if that’s enough for you, the Fire HD is less than half the price of an entry-level iPad.
Amazon Fire HD 10 (32 GB) retails in Canada for only $199.99 ($40 more for 64 GB). It includes a charging cable and power adapter. You can find them at your local Best Buy, The Source and, of course, on Amazon. It might be a good idea to pick up a matching tablet case.
They seem to be a popular discount item at many retailers, with prices as low as $149.99 for the 32-GB model.
Amazon also has a special Fire HD 10 Kid’s Edition featuring a blue or pink “kid-proof” case with a built-in stand. It comes with a two-year replacement warranty and a one-year subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited that offers content like games, movies, apps and educational books for children ages three to 12. It retails for $259.99 but is available now for $199.99 on Amazon.
Troy Media columnist Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at GadgetGuy.ca.