I’m playing around with Amazon’s latest tablet — the brand-new Fire HD 10 Plus. It’s fast, with web browsing speed that’s faster than the newest iPad 8th generation model from Fall 2020, in my informal test. The 10.1-inch 1080p full HD screen is crystal clear. As is the Dolby Atmos sound. And the battery not only charges quickly — and wirelessly, if you buy the optional wireless charging dock — but it lasts noticeably longer than before. Overall, this model truly offers a much-improved user experience than its predecessors.
The one I’m testing bears 64GB of built-in storage, with a micro SD slot that lets you expand up to 1TB. There’s also an octa core processor with 4GB RAM. It welcomes you to multitask by running two apps side-by-side.
Mind you, I’ve tried Fires of all sizes in the past. And I thought they were decent yet sluggish, given their low price. Just for fun two years ago, I bought a $30 7-inch model solely for watching movies. And it has frustratingly sufficed. It’s slow — the movies play fine, but the mere act of getting into the Amazon Prime Video app to find a movie can take minutes. I even converted the device into a full-blown Android tablet last year, with hopes it somehow might speed up. It didn’t.
Amazon is billing this model as a potential work machine, as well — selling an optional keyboard case that comes with a year-long subscription to Microsoft Office. I didn’t try that keyboard. I did however download Microsoft Word and tried writing a document with the on-screen keyboard. That did not go well for my large fingers, but I was able to write with a fair amount of accuracy via dictation — a feature I can easily see using for light writing or editing on an occasional road trip when I don’t bring along a laptop.
It’s really unfair to even compare that clunker to the new machine in many ways. Although there are some commonalities. Like its predecessors, the Fire HD 10 Plus is still limited to apps available on Amazon’s Appstore. And while there are plenty, it’s still not as vast a selection as you’ll find on Apple’s and Google’s app stores. Also, the 2MP front and 5MP back cameras are acceptable for video calls and quick pics or videos. But the images are kind of grainy. I wouldn’t use the cameras and expect top-quality photos by any means. That’s not the point of the Fire, anyway. It’s all about content consumption. Watching movies, TV shows and videos. Reading ebooks and magazines. Surfing the web. Listening to music. Those kinds of things. And all for $180 (32GB) or $220 (64GB).
Weighing just 16.5 ounces, the Fire HD 10 Plus feels nice and light. Call me crazy, but I actually prefer its plastic backing over that of pricier tablets. In my experience, it can take small drops without any issues. But you can buy the optional origami-like kickstand case for $40, which will give it a more premium feel with better protection. I tried the Anker wireless charging dock, as well. When you place the Fire with or without the case on it, the screen immediately switches to Show Mode in the dock so you can use it hands-free, with Alexa.
The bottom line here is that if you’re looking for a fast and capable tablet with an awesome screen — and the apps you want are available in Amazon’s Appstore — the Fire HD 10 Plus is the best for the money on the market. It may well impress you.