Amazon Fire HD 6 review
If you’re looking for a tablet you could confidently give to your children or use as a shared family device, Amazon may just have come up with the answer: the Fire HD 6, the latest in the company’s range of budget tablets. See also: The best tablets of 2014.
While it’s clearly part of the same family, the Fire HD 6 is quite a departure from previous models. What’s immediately noticeable is just how small it is. With a screen only 6in across the diagonal, this dinky device isn’t much bigger than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and can easily be held in one hand.
That said, it feels very robust. For its size, it’s quite heavy, weighing almost 300g and, at 10.7mm, it’s also fairly thick. While we didn’t subject it to a drop test, had it slipped from our hands we’d have expected it to survive a short fall.
The Fire HD 6 has two cameras: a 2-megapixel snapper on the rear and a VGA camera on the front, neither of which produces good-quality images. On the top edge, there’s a headphone jack and microphone, and a mono speaker is located on the rear. The power button is on the top and the volume buttons are situated on the left-hand side. While there is a micro-USB port, which can be found on the top next to the power button, there’s no microSD slot, so you can’t expand the storage beyond the standard 8GB (or 16GB) storage allocation.
Speaking of which, the entry-level Fire HD 6 comes in at a very reasonable £79, while the 16GB model will set you back £99. Neither model will break the bank, and both are available in black, white, citron, magenta and cobalt colourways.
Amazon Fire HD 6 review: software
Apart from its size and build, what makes the Fire HD 6 a family-orientated tablet is the way it handles multiple accounts. Just as with the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9in (2014), it’s possible to set this tablet up with separate accounts for up to two adults and four children, with complete parental control over apps and time limits. Reading goals and other educational activities can also be set, so you can effectively make your kids earn their play time.
Aside from these changes, the tablet runs the latest version of Amazon’s Fire OS, which has the same advantages and disadvantages of previous incarnations. It’s simple to get to grips with, and accessing content you may have already bought from Amazon is child’s play, but you don’t have access to Google’s core apps, nor the Google Play store. Amazon’s Appstore is passable, but lags a long way behind, both in terms of the quality of the apps available and the number.
Oddly, the HD 6 (and its larger, more expensive sibling, the HD 7), also lacks the useful Mayday function, which provides instant, interactive online assistance on the firm’s more expensive HDX tablets.
Amazon Fire HD 6 review: display, performance and battery life
Despite the low price, the Fire HD 6’s 800 x 1,280 IPS display is pretty good. Brightness, in particular, is impressive: it reaches 435cd/m2 at maximum settings, which is on a par with the iPad Air 2, and it boasts good contrast as well, at 1,046:1. We also found it responsive to the touch, without any noticeable lag. In our tests, it was a little on the cool side in terms of colour temperature, though and, at 76%, sRGB coverage is disappointing.
The Fire HD 6 won’t win any prizes for being a high-end entertainment device, either, but it’s fine for watching movies and playing casual games, such as Candy Crush Saga. And in benchmarks, it performed reasonably well. Its quad-core MediaTek MTK8135 processor (which comprises two 1.5GHz cores and two 1.2GHz cores) and 1GB of RAM achieved a single-core Geekbench 3 score roughly on a par with the Tesco Hudl 2.
It disappoints when it comes to the multi-core element of the test, gaining a mere 1,482 compared to the Hudl 2’s 2,132, but a frame rate of 20fps in the GFXBench T-Rex HD gaming test isn’t too shabby.
Where the Fire HD 6 strides ahead of the Hudl 2 is battery life. In our looping video test, it lasted 8hrs 43mins. That isn’t anywhere near as good as the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (2014)’s 16hrs 55mins, but it’s considerably better than the Hudl 2, which only lasted 6hrs 51mins.
Amazon Fire HD 6 review: verdict
When it comes to family-friendly tablets, it’s hard to argue with the Amazon Fire HD 6. Its child-friendly form factor, easy-to-use parental controls and low price point make it ideal for use either as a shared tablet in the home or as a personal device for any children in your household.
However, if you’re looking for something with a bit of oomph, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.
|Processor||Quad-core (2 x dual-core), 1.5GHz and 1.2GHz, MediaTek MTK8135|
|Screen resolution||800 x 1,280|
|Front camera||0.3 megapixels|
|Rear camera||2 megapixels|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||No|
|Size||103 x 10.7 x 169mm (WDH)|
|Operating system||Fire OS 4|
|Battery size||Not stated|
|Price||8GB Wi-Fi, £79; 16GB Wi-Fi, £99|