Amazon Fire HD 10in review: Is this the best cheap 10in tablet around?
Amazon Fire HD 10in review: Performance and screen quality
Nor is it the very best choice for games. While I found both Jetpack Joyride and Bloody and Glory played well, a single-core score of 773 in Geekbench falls a shade behind the Tesco Hudl 2; a multi-core score of 1,512 means it’s a full 25% slower. It’s a good gaming device rather than a great one.
This can be forgiven, but it’s a sign that Amazon isn’t making full use of the quad-core Mediatek processor inside. It’s held back by a slightly miserly 1GB of RAM, but even then I wasn’t expecting the amount of judder I experienced in daily use. Most of the time, the Fire 10 feels fast, but then you pull up on the list of Apps and it stutters. I found exactly the same problem when browsing data-intensive sites such as The Guardian.
This is also where you notice the 10in panel’s 1,280 x 800 resolution. It’s absolutely fine if you’re watching video, but there’s an obvious graininess to web pages, especially if you’re used to highly pixel-dense phone screens or Retina iPads. Nor is it the most accurate of panels: it hit just 81.8% of the sRGB colour gamut in our tests. None of these are necessarily killer problems, but they do make the Kindle HD 10 feel like a budget tablet.
Amazon Fire HD 10in review: Software
That brings me to Fire OS, now updated to version 5, the aspect of Amazon Fire tablets many people find the most disturbing. It’s Amazon’s own version of Android, but Google’s engineers will find little familiar here other than the list view of installed apps.
Think of it instead as a way to browse your Amazon content. Swipe left and you’ll see your downloaded books, recently watched films and videos, games, a shopfront for Amazon itself, apps, music, audiobooks and a selection of magazines and papers on Newsstand.
Each section heading attempts to draw you in with recently viewed, downloaded or read items, with what Amazon hopes will be a tantalising glimpse at other morsels: newly added films on Prime, for example, or books it recommends.
What you won’t find is Google Play, or indeed any Google apps. Click on Maps, for instance, and you’ll see the unfamiliar mapping style of Nokia’s HERE offering. This delivers all the mapping and routing capabilities of Google’s Maps, but it’s less easy to use. There’s no Chrome web browser – you have to use Amazon’s own Silk browser instead. Most agonisingly, perhaps, there’s no YouTube or Drive.
Elsewhere, it’s more hit and miss. There’s a BBC Sport app and Netflix, but no Sky Go or BT Sport. Plus, try and download the Instagram app and you’ll be hit with a “This app is not compatible with your device” message. Clumsy.
If and when you do fire up the camera, be prepared to be underwhelmed. Amazon has gone for intense, oversaturated colours to cover up, the cynic in me might argue, the lack of detail and high amount of noise in the shots. The front-facing camera is fine for Skype, but the rear camera is very much a tickbox.