Hands on: Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) review

A limited upgrade to a great tablet

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

Amazon's Fire HD 8 (2017) seems to be an improvement on the previous versions, but there's no reason to update your current tablet to this. This will be a great buy if you've never owned a tablet though.

For

  • Nice, large screen
  • Good storage options

Against

  • No stand out improvement
  • Poor cameras

Amazon has updated one of its mid-range tablets to make it even better than before, but if you own one already is it worth upgrading to?

The Fire HD 8 (2017) isn't a top of the range monster like the new iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, but it does offer up some impressive specs considering its low price point.

If you're in the market for an affordable Amazon tablet, keep reading below for more details on the slate and our first impressions.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) price and release date

Amazon is selling this new tablet from June 7 in the US and the UK. There's no word on a release in Australia from Amazon and considering the last Amazon Fire HD 8 didn't get released there we don't expect to see this new version either.

Pricing-wise, the Fire HD 8 (2017) is more expensive than the Amazon Fire (2017), but not by too much.

You can buy the 16GB version - the cheapest - for only $79.99 (£79.99), which is £10/$10 cheaper than the last version of the tablet. That's quite impressive given how cheap the last model was, and it's a price that's sure to appeal to those looking for a budget slate.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) design

Much like the Amazon Fire (2017) and the tablets that have gone before it, the Fire HD 8 (2017) comes with a plastic back. It may look a little childish, but we can't expect a beautifully designed tablet for the price of the HD 8.

This is a little more difficult to hold than the 7-inch version of the tablet, so you'll need to use two hands to hold this while you're watching films or playing games.

The top edge of the tablet hosts the 3.5mm headphone jack, volume rocker, power button and micro USB for charging. That means all the other edges are button-free and it can be a touch easier to hold because of that.

We do find we have to look at the buttons on the top of the tablet before pressing them though, as they're so bunched together.

You'll have the choice of black, blue, red and yellow colors, plus there are a selection of cases up for sale if you're not a fan of the original design.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) display

Amazon hasn't upgraded the screen for the HD 8 (2017), so you still get a display that's just above 720p resolution.

Specifically, you'll get an 8-inch display at 1280 x 800, which equals 189 pixels-per-inch. If you've owned a tablet with a better resolution in the past you'll likely be disappointed with the screen quality here, but the picture quality is fine if you're not expecting the best in the world.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) specs 

A major upgrade for the new version of the Fire HD 8 is dual-band Wi-Fi support. That means you'll be able to use both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands you can access at home and as a result you'll hopefully be able to get slightly quicker internet when downloading to your tablet.

According to Amazon, the new version of the tablet has improved battery as well. There's a 12 hour predicted battery life time on the Fire HD 8 (2017), we'll let you know whether it actually manages that when we do our full review soon.

When it comes to storage, you'll have 16GB or 32GB options to buy, but each also has microSD support of up to 256GB. There's also a 1.3GHz quad-core chipset powering the Fire HD 8 (2017) - that's the same set up as last year's tablet and worked OK when we tested it.

One of the big highlights of the new Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) for UK users is the addition of Alexa integration with the tablet (US users already have this).

It means you can see updates from Amazon's voice assistant directly on your tablet, or you can even ask Alexa to open up apps on the slate. In our limited testing we found that it worked well.

There are also cameras on the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017), but neither will be able to take particularly impressing shots. There's a 5MP shooter on the back while the front has a camera that can record 720p video, so it will likely suit you if you want to use the Fire HD 8 for video chatting.

Early verdict

The improvements upon the last version of the Amazon Fire HD 8 are limited here, but the price drop is appreciated.

There's seemingly almost no reason to go for the 7-inch Amazon Fire (2017) when this version is quite cheap too, with a larger and higher resolution screen, but both of Amazon's new slates look set be the among the cheapest and best value around.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.