MEGATech Reviews: Amazon Fire HD 8 (2018, 8th Generation)
The newest generation of Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet isn't going to amaze you with its performance or an incredible display, but it still represents an incredible value for an affordable tablet experience.
  • Still an excellent value
  • Expandable storage
  • Does almost everything you'd want
  • No major changes from previous gen
  • Not a great screen
  • Low end specs
7.5Overall Score

For a time there, in the not so distant past, you had to spend at least $250 or so to get a halfway decent tablet. Spend more than that and you could get a more premium experience. Spend less than that and you could be holding an utter piece of garbage. These days, that “middle ground” has almost completely disappeared. If you’re looking for a decent tablet experience at a budget-friendly price, there’s the all-new Fire HD 8 tablet for 2018.

What’s New in the 8th Generation Fire?

Not everyone wants to spend upwards of $1,000 (or more!) on something like an iPad Pro. At the same time, they don’t want to waste their money on a piece of garbage either. They want something that’ll take care of the main reasons why someone would want a tablet in the first place — casual games, media streaming, web browsing — without spending an arm and a leg.

The 8th-generation Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet was quietly announced to the world in September. At the time, I looked up and down the spec sheet to look for differences and found few compared to the 7th-generation model of late 2017. The physical dimensions are identical, so you can use the same fabric stand case and other similar accessories.

From what I can see, it’s still the same 8-inch HD (1280×800) display, the same 1.3Ghz quad-core processor, and the same 1.5GB of storage. The silver buttons have been swapped out for black (at least on the black version as tested), but it’s otherwise aesthetically the same too. The only difference that I can see is that it now supports microSD cards up to 400GB compared to 256GB in the 7th-gen model.

Same Familiar Experience

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As you might recall when I reviewed the 7th generation model earlier this year, I was generally pleased with the experience. You still get the terrific parental controls, you still get the remarkably pronounced integration with other Amazon services, and you still get all the wireless connectivity (and a headphone jack!) that you need.

No, these bezels are nowhere near as thin as you find on the new iPad Pro. No, the screen isn’t anywhere near as good either. The blacks never quite get all that black and the night mode is way too aggressive with tinting everything through that amber filter.

But it works. And it does what you need it to do to enjoy all that Netflix and Kindle and Facebook action.

The tablet itself is wrapped up in this lightly textured plastic body, the same as the previous generation. It’s probably a little too slippery for me, which is why I think investing in that fabric case is a good idea. I will say that it does repel fingerprints, at least to some degree.

There are both front and rear cameras, and the only thing to say about them is that they do indeed take pictures. Don’t expect much. All the ports and controls are at the top, including the power button, the volume buttons, the headphone jack, and the micro USB port for charging. There are stereo speakers on the left side (when held in portrait), so you’ll want to rotate the Fire HD 8 accordingly when you start on a video streaming binge.

Fire HD 8 Benchmark Scores

This is no performance beast. Drumming up single-core and multi-core scores of 638 and 1868 respectively in Geekbench 3, the 8th-generation Fire HD 8 is not going to be your tablet of choice for higher end gaming. I imagine that the games that get ported over to the Amazon Appstore take this into consideration.

For context, the 7th gen model came up with 649 and 1878 in the single-core and multi-core benchmarks in my testing, so we can chalk that up to individual variation. They are, fundamentally speaking, the same tablet.

The same holds true with the Sling Shot ES 3.1 benchmark in 3DMark, coming up with a score of just 157. Last year’s model scored a 152 in my testing. For perspective, the Google Pixel 3 XL got an overall score of 4313 in Sling Shot Extreme. But that’s a $1,000 smartphone and we’re looking at a $100 tablet.

For some inexplicable reason, I couldn’t get the AnTuTu benchmark to run properly on this tablet. It kept getting stuck at the 5% mark, but we can safely assume that the numbers wouldn’t have been all that impressive anyhow.

MEGATechie Value Minded or MEGATechie Unnecessary Upgrade?

At the end of the day, it’s the simple matter of going in with the right set of expectations. If you demand a premium experience with high-end materials and top-notch performance, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Instead, if you’re looking for a utilitarian solution to handle the majority of your casual content consumption needs, the 8th gen Fire HD 8 can do it on the cheap.

But so could the 7th generation model. They didn’t change much at all, including the price, so it makes me wonder why they bothered changing it at all. This doesn’t detract from the product itself, but I wish they had delivered more (like a faster processor or more RAM). But hey, it’s still a good deal.

The Amazon Fire HD 8 sells for $79.99 on Amazon for the 16 GB model as shown ($99.99 in Canada). It’s also available as a 32 GB model for $109.99 ($129.99 Canadian). If you decide to bundle it with the Show Mode Charging Dock ($39.99 value), you get a $10 discount compared to buying them separately.

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