David’s Take: Living with Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021) Productivity Bundle

About two months ago, I was offered an opportunity to try out Amazon’s newly released Fire HD 10 tablet. Being used to my Apple iPad Pro and iPad Air, I was intrigued to know how this super-affordable $200 tablet would fare compared to products almost ten times the price.

Amazon Fire HD 10 capable of running all popular apps

I received a package from Amazon consisting of the Fire HD 10 and a Bluetooth keyboard by Fintie plus a Microsoft 365 one-year subscription as part of the Productivity Bundle ($341.95) The Fire HD 10 is made of matte plastic, and you can get it in black, blue, green, or pink. It has dual stereo speakers on top, a USB-C port for charging and transferring files, and a microSD memory card slot behind a little door. The battery, as expected, is not removable. It measures 9.73” tall by 6.53” wide by 0.36” deep and weighs 16.4 ounces. The Fintie keyboard feels very nice with great tactile sensation and is nearly as easy to use as a full fledged keyboard. Furthermore, it performs virtually as well as the Apple Smart Keyboard I use for my iPad Pro/iPad Air.

The Fire HD 10’s features are about as good as you’re going to get for a tablet at this price level, and for the base price of $150, they’re impressive. Just don’t expect them to stack up against what a fancier tablet such as my iPad Pro or iPhone can do. Then again, don’t forget, the tablet is priced at a very miniscule fraction of iPad or other performance-based offerings 

Amazon describes the 10.1-inch, 1920-by-1200, 224ppi screen as “brilliant.” Which I have to disagree. It doesn’t get tremendously bright, and the viewing angle is somewhat limited. However, the display has nicely deep colors when you look at it straight on-axis. And for my various usages over the past month, the brightness level and the somewhat narrow viewing angle are adequate for me. That includes using the tablet under the sun in my backyard, which I often do.

The screen was bright enough for outdoor reading

Photos taken with the 5MP rear camera are poor and unacceptable to me, with washed-out colors, poor dynamic range, and high digital noise in low light conditions. Surprisingly, however, the 2MP front facing camera isn’t bad at all, especially when compared with cameras on similar tablets including my iPad Air. It delivers perfectly acceptable image quality for video conferences and even functions well in low light. It is not something I should grapple about since no one in their right mind is buying a Fire tablet for the sole reason to take pictures. But it does a decent job for Zoom calls but definitely not as a landscape or portrait camera. As with all members of Amazon ecosystem, Fire HD 10 automatically syncs your pics with Amazon Photos.

The stereo speakers are adequately loud, giving a 94.7 dB reading at my usual viewing distance, or about 12 inches away from the tablet. Music also has a bit of a space-filling sound to it because of the physical separation of the two speakers, though it’s really tinny; when I was listening to the various Leap Frog Studio’s rendition of various pop songs in heavy metal style. If you’re listening to music, watching videos, or taking a long video call, you should take advantage of the standard 3.5mm headphone jack or Bluetooth headset support, both of which deliver nice and clear audio quality.

While this tablet is definitely not an iPad-level replacement, considering its $200 price (or $341 for the Productivity Bundle, which I also highly recommend instead of using a Chrome Book), the Fire HD 10 offers tremendous value. In most cases, I feel more comfortable in taking my Fire HD 10 to more places than my reference (but overpriced) iPad Pro and iPad Air. It does what I want it to do flawlessly (mostly browsing, watching YouTube and writing articles — writing THIS article, for example) at a small fraction of the price of an iPad. This would also be a great option for families with small children so they don’t have to touch your high-end Apple gear!  If they drop it, you’re out $200 bucks and not $2000!