Amazon Fire HD 7 review

Is Amazon's budget tablet still the brightest spark in the fire?

Amazon Fire HD 7 review
Lighting a fire under the tablet market?

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Seating itself in the bracket of "affordable Android tablet" opens the Amazon Fire HD 7 up to plenty of competition from no-name brands peddling cheap, easy tabs running Google's free OS. But there are a few genuinely awesome tablets available at this price point, giving the Fire HD 7 a bit of a run for its money.

Google Nexus 7 (2013)

Google's Nexus tablets redefined what a budget tablet could be and even though the Nexus 7 has been superseded by the HTC-made Nexus 9, it's still worth considering. You're going to pay £50 more (£170 / US$199 / AU$308 for 16GB) for a tablet that's a year older but take a glance at the specification and you'll see why.

Amazon Fire HD 7 2014 review

Google's 2013 tablet can still cut it

The Nexus 7's 1920 x 1200 screen resolution outperforms the 1280 x 800 on the HD 7 and Google's tablet also boasts twice as much RAM as Amazon's. Both use a quad-core 1.5GHz processor but Google's tablet trumps the Fire HD 7 with a 5MP rear-facing camera and a 2MP front-facing option.

Furthermore, the Nexus 7 is a much more customisable experience and doesn't exist simply to push content at you. You've still got the wealth of Google Play to exploit but it doesn't feel like you're forced into doing things a particular way. It's been updated with Android 4.4 as well, just to keep things running smoothly.

Google's tablet also wins on the design front. The soft-touch back is more comfortable to hold than the HD 7's plastic exterior and the Nexus 7 is thinner to boot.

Apple iPad mini (2012)

With the arrival of the Apple iPad mini 3, the original iPad mini has been pushed further down the pricing tier to become Apple's budget option. At £199 (US$249 / AU$299), it's still more expensive than any of the other tablets here, but thanks to iOS 8, there's supreme usability and plenty of features to be had.

Amazon Fire HD 7 2014 review

Apple's first iPad mini is now the company's budget choice

If keeping to a budget is really your prime concern, then stick with the Fire HD 7, especially considering the non-Retina 1024 x 768 display. However, if you don't fancy being constrained to Amazon's ecosystem (and would rather be constrained to Apple's instead) then the iPad makes sense.

When it comes to apps, the 500,000-strong Apple App Store takes some beating and there are plenty designed specifically for the iPad mini. Aside from the apps, the design and build quality of the iPad mini leaves Amazon's HD 7 in the dust.

It's not really worth the extra £80 if you're only after a basic tablet, but if you're set on getting into Apple's tablet world then this is your cheapest option.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 (2014)

Pick a tablet size and there's a pretty good chance that Samsung has a product for it. If not one or two. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 was released earlier this year in 7-inch, 8-inch and 10.1-inch flavours with the 7-inch, at £159 (US$169 / AU$288), a rival for Amazon's slate.

Amazon Fire HD 7 (2014) review

One of the hundreds of Samsung tablets available

Look at the specifications on paper and its clear this is a mid-range tablet with few of Samsung's key features. There's no S Pen support and no AMOLED screen. But it does have two key features missing from the Fire HD 7; Google Play support and a microSD slot for expanding on the paltry 8GB of storage.

Performance is also on a level with the Fire HD 7. Although the quad-core processor inside the Galaxy Tab 4 is only clocked at 1.2GHz, it's got 1.5GB of RAM as opposed to the 1GB inside the HD 7. The screen resolution on both tablets is exactly the same at 1,280 x 800.

It's more expensive than the Amazon Fire HD 7 and arguably less well equipped when it comes to performance. But there's no denying that Google Play support and expandable storage are huge bonuses. If you don't want to do things Amazon's way then the Samsung Galaxy tab 4 offers a great alternative.