Amazon Fire HD 6 review

Small enough to be smartphone, the HD 6 packs a surprising punch

Amazon Fire HD 6 review
Do good tablets come in small packages?

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Amazon's smallest and cheapest tablet yet has a lot going for it, and that's not just the £79, $99 price-tag.

The 6-inch screen is big enough to watch a film on and the processor is just beefy enough to play the latest and greatest graphically intense games.

We liked

The integration with Amazon's Prime services is excellent and works like a charm. From caching videos, in HD I might add, for offline viewing, to syncing up where I was at in a book on my Kindle Voyage, everything just works as it should.

I also really like how every bit of media I consume shows up on the carousel, making it easy to jump back into it when I want to resume watching. Normally, I'd have to open up an individual app before this was possible.

Making a 6-inch tablet might seem a bit odd, especially when phones like the Nexus 6 posses a screen only 0.4-inches smaller, but I grew to appreciate having something so small that I could use solely for media.

I chucked it in my bag when I was getting the train home, knowing that I'd have something to watch, without having to buy single episodes or mess around with syncing.

While it garners a lot of criticism, I actually really like Amazon's UI for tablets. It puts content right in front of you and if you like the traditional app grid, just swipe up. Yes, it doesn't work on phones where you're using a load of different apps and opening up a multitude of messaging clients, but when all you're doing in watching and reading, it's all you need.

We disliked

And, at the same time that last comment leads right into one of the things I really dislike - all I did was watch videos and read books. On my iPad mini I can draw, write, make a song, read the latest issue of T3, along with also reading books and watching videos.

The Amazon ecosystem is restrictive and it's not built for productivity, it doesn't even have Google Drive and Docs access, something that I use everyday.

While Amazon has improved its email, calendar and web browsing apps in recent years, they're still poorly designed and lacking features. Just let me download Gmail, Google Calendar and Chrome.

Having an 8GB option is great to keep the costs down, but when you only have about 4.5GB of that you can actually use, it can become full with only a few games installed. There's no microSD expansion either.

Final verdict

I've spent a good amount of time with the Amazon Fire HD 6 and it has already inserted itself into my regime. The mixture of durability, small footprint and access to Amazon's Prime service combine to make a device that's great for watching movies on the go, but not so great for actually getting things done.

If you've only got £80, $100 and you want a tablet, this is the best that you can get, just don't expect it to replace your laptop, or even your iPad.

First reviewed: November 2014