Like other Amazon-branded tablets, the Fire HD 8 Plus tablet is a nice little device if you’ve invested heavily in the e-commerce giant’s ecosystem. It comes with everything you need to manage Alexa-enabled devices, while fully enjoying Amazon-branded entertainment with the pre-installed Prime Video, Amazon Music, Kindle and Audible apps.
The tablet comes in two flavors: the standard Fire HD 8 and the Fire HD 8 Plus, as well as versions with and without ads. While the Fire HD 8 Plus with ads (the one I’m reviewing) starts at $119.99, you’ll need to pay about $25 extra to remove ads on the lock screen—which I’d recommend—to bring the price down to $25. 134.99 to put. Meanwhile, the standard Fire HD 8 model starts at $99.99 with ads (or $114.99 without). The main differences between the two devices are camera quality and RAM, with the Fire HD 8 Plus coming with slightly better cameras, 3GB of RAM instead of 2GB, and convenient wireless charging options.
As the “8” in its name implies, the Fire HD 8 Plus tablet has an 8-inch 1280 x 800 LCD screen surrounded by a fairly solid plastic chassis in black, blue or pink. The screen itself isn’t the most impressive, as colors can appear dull when streaming and the device’s maximum brightness just isn’t bright enough. For example, take the device outside on a sunny day, then it is difficult to see anything on the screen. Still, the screen is good enough if you don’t care much for the vibrancy of what you’re streaming and you only plan on using it indoors (or at least in the shade).
On the inside, the tablet comes with either 32GB or 64GB of storage options (with the option to upgrade to 1TB with an SD card) and 3GB of RAM. It has a six-core processor that Amazon says is 30 percent faster than its predecessor. The tablet is faster than I initially expected, but I noticed that you have to wait a few seconds when opening an app, which makes using the device a lot less fluid. I noticed more clumsiness when navigating the tablet as trying to scroll or select something becomes difficult when the device is loading an app or web page, with both functions becoming noticeably slow. The device is also slightly thinner and lighter than the 2020 model and features an improved camera, but that’s about where the differences end.
When unlocking the tablet, you will see an ad that takes up your entire lock screen. (If you have bigger fingers, you can even tap it instead of actually unlocking the device.) The lock screen also has two other options in the bottom right and left corners that take you straight to a menu to manage your connected devices or to a carousel of ads that Amazon calls “selected offers.” (If you just can’t get enough of the ones on your lock screen.) In my opinion, having ads right on the lock screen makes the tablet… cheap. I’d recommend getting the ad-free model if you can, but I suppose it’s acceptable if you want to save some extra cash.
The Android 11-based OS looks and feels dated compared to today’s smartphones
On the homepage, you’ll find the main tabs For You, Home, and Library, which provide portals to a page full of curated Amazon content and a list of your apps, as well as your watchlists and downloaded content.
The tablet uses Fire OS 8, Amazon’s forked version of the two-year-old Android 11. The operating system doesn’t just look and feel a bit outdated, but Google’s apps are also noticeably absent from the Amazon Appstore. This means you can’t even download YouTube, which seems contradictory for a tablet focused on entertainment. The mountain of YouTube copycats in the Amazon Appstore is another problem; after searching YouTube once, fake YouTube look-alikes filled my “Discover” feed on the tablet home screen and in my recommended apps in the Appstore. (There are ways to load the Google Play Store on the Fire 8, just like you’ve done on Amazon’s older tablets for years, but that’s not exactly an easy process and is beyond the scope of this review.)
Aside from the lack of YouTube, the tablet is a solid device for streaming, especially if you’re paying $139 a year for Prime. It may take a while to actually open Prime Video or Peacock, but when the app finally loads, I can easily create a show or movie, and it doesn’t look too bad either. Sure, it’s not a 4K display and the video can seem a bit grainy at times, but it’s good enough for watching on the go or in bed. However, if you’re planning to watch anything, make sure to grab some headphones. The Fire HD 8 Plus comes with a headphone jack and you should use this if you don’t want to subject yourself to the tinny sound of the speaker.
Getting access to smart home controls is also quite easy. As I mentioned earlier, you can simply swipe the left tab on the lock screen to access your connected devices, open the Amazon Alexa app, or use a voice command. Like Amazon’s other Fire tablets, you can also turn it into a smart display by swiping down on the screen and enabling Show mode. With this enabled, you can place the device on a dock or use the case as a stand and it will be a cheaper version of the Amazon Echo Show.
But if you want to use the Fire HD 8 Plus for video calls, don’t expect the sharp camera quality you get on your phone or a high-end webcam. The Fire HD 8 Plus comes with a subpar 2MP front camera with 720p video and a 5MP rear camera with 1080p video, while the base model has an even weaker 2MP front and rear camera with 720p HD video. Both the front and rear cameras take unsurprisingly grainy photos and videos.
Amazon says its Fire HD 8 Plus tablet comes with up to 13 hours of battery life, and after playing with the device for about a week, I can say that estimate is about right. I didn’t have to charge the device that much, and even if I do, I can just plug it into the same charger I use for my Samsung phone, as it conveniently supports USB-C. (And, unlike other companies like Apple and Samsung, Amazon actually includes a cord and charging stone with the device.) It takes about three hours to charge the device, and the same is true if you were to use it with the $49.99 wireless charging pad. It also supports all Qi-certified wireless chargers. (Amazon has a full list of compatible devices here.)
In addition to the basic Fire HD 8 and HD 8 Plus tablets, Amazon also sells the $149.99 Fire HD 8 Kids and Fire HD Kids Pro. The two devices have less storage space, but they don’t come with lock screen ads and have a sturdier case. However, they come with a two-year damage warranty and an annual subscription to Amazon Kids Plus.
Overall, the Fire HD 8 Plus is a nifty little tablet, but it’ll really only help you if you’re subscribed to Amazon Prime. For $119.99, you can think of it as a souped-up Alexa remote that comes with a few perks like quick access to streaming, ebooks, and podcasts through Amazon’s ecosystem. It’s the perfect balance between the cheaper Amazon Fire 7 and Fire HD 10 tablets and makes the most sense in both price and functionality in my opinion.
Agree to Continue: Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2022)
Like many tablets, Amazon’s Fire HD 8 Plus requires you to agree to a set of terms and conditions before you can use it — contracts that no one actually reads. It is impossible for us to read and analyze all these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have to click ‘agree’ to use devices when we review them, since these are agreements that most people don’t read and certainly can’t negotiate.
When you use your Fire HD 8 Plus for the first time, you will be prompted to connect or create an Amazon account. When you set up or link your Amazon account, Amazon receives your email and billing address, as well as your credit card number, so you can purchase and download content. You must also agree to the following terms::
In total there are 11 mandatory agreements to use the Fire HD 8 Plus.