Fire HD 10 isn’t the best tablet you’ll use. Not even close. But it’s cheap, decently potent, and good enough for a lot of us.
Amazon’s 2021 update to the 10in Fire HD 10 mirrors what we saw last year with the 8in model. There are now two variants, one with 3 GB of RAM and a “Plus” model with 4 GB. Amazon has also added something it calls the Productivity Bundle, which consists of a Fire HD 10 tablet (3 GB model of RAM), a Bluetooth keyboard case, and a 12-month Microsoft 365 subscription (which automatically renews if you don’t. cancels that).
Yes, you read that right. Amazon positions the Fire HD 10 as a device you can do real work on. Surprisingly, this turns out to be true as long as you don’t need to use Google apps. The Fire HD 10 is still crippled by Amazon’s Fire operating system, which lacks the bevy of apps you’ll find in the Google Play Store. Still, with a slightly better keyboard and display, the new Fire HD 10 is something like a netbook – a cheap, capable, go-anywhere little device.
The new Fire HD 10 has uniform bezels on all sides, but isn’t much different on the outside. It still sports a 10.1-inch 1080p display, although Amazon claims it’s 10% brighter than the 2019 model. I couldn’t compare them side-by-side, but had no issues. to use the Fire HD 10 in bright light. The screen isn’t going to blow your mind, but it’s fine for browsing the web, watching videos, and whatever else you’re likely to do with it.
The additional RAM is immediately noticeable. There is no more jitter when scrolling and opening apps is fast and smooth. I didn’t notice any noticeable pauses or delays, which have always plagued low-end Android tablets. Like last year’s 8-inch model, this update finally makes the Fire HD 10 fast enough that you don’t even realize you’re using a low-end device.
The battery life remains at around 12 hours. Obviously it depends on what you are doing. Streaming movies back to back consumes battery faster than just browsing the web. But it remains in the range of much more expensive competitors. When it comes to build quality, Fire tablets have always been surprisingly durable despite their bulk and plastic shells. I cracked the screen on two iPads, but never had the same with a Fire.
If you go with the Plus model ($ 30 more), you get an extra gigabyte of RAM, the ability to charge it wirelessly (see our guide to our favorite wireless chargers), and a few more colors to choose from. Amazon sent me the Standard and Plus models for testing. Most of the time, I didn’t notice a big difference, but for just $ 30 more, extra RAM will make for a more durable purchase.
The most interesting upgrade is the Productivity Bundle with the Bluetooth keyboard and the Microsoft 365 subscription. The latter compensates for the fact that Google software is noticeably absent from the Fire HD 10. This means that there is no Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, or even Gmail (you can sign in to Gmail through Amazon’s default email app). Worse, even the web versions won’t load in the included Silk web browser, and there are no popular alternative browsers available in the Amazon App Store.
Microsoft 365 is capable of doing everything that Google’s online office suite can do, but if all of your coworkers are using Google and you need to be able to edit shared documents in Google, then that’s a moot point. After playing with Microsoft 365 for a week, I’ve come to prefer it over Google’s offerings, but it still doesn’t help me in the long run as I rely on Google apps for work.