Amazon Review by Phil (not) in Magnolia
1861 people found the following review helpful
Amazon's two Bargain Fire Tablets How good is the 7" model and how do they Compare? (And note sound quality limitations)
Amazon has just updated their bargain priced Fire tablets. While these latest models are only slightly better than the preceding generation, I believe that they still represent the absolute best value tablet on the market. Its still hard for me to adjust to the fact that a tablet device can now be purchased for just fifty bucks, and its such a good all-around performer (for the most part)!
I purchased both the 7" and 8" Fire models because I wanted to see how they compared, and I was curious how they performed. They are both shown in the video attached to this review. I will focus here on the 7" model, to try to help the potential buyer decide whether or not the more expensive 8" Fire tablet is worth the extra money (and if the 7" model is worth purchasing on its own merits).
I’ve given this 7" model a 4-star rating after further consideration and largely because of the very mediocre quality sound output (see detailed comments below). It is still a terrific bargain at the price, but I do want to be clear that it is not ideal for all uses.
These new models represent minimal changes compared to the previous generation Fire tablets:
— Same display specs as before (Amazon says the 7 model has an improved display), same processors (1.3 GHz quad-core but a newer model that is probably slightly faster in operation), same standard and available storage (7 8 or 16 GB; 8 16 or 32 GB)
— New colors
— the 8 model is $10 cheaper
— the 7 model now has dual band wi-fi (previously single band wi-fi) for better connectivity
— Kids edition now available for both models (previously only the 7 model). Note that the Kids edition is only sold with the higher storage (7 16 GB; 8 32 GB)
— both models can use up to 256 GB microSDXC expansion storage (previously max 128 GB for 7)
— both models offer Amazons Alexa digital assistant at the touch of a button
— both models are physically the same size as previously but slightly lighter the 8 has lost 1 oz of weight, the 7 is 0.6 oz lighter
BOTH 7 and 8 MODELS are suitable for:
— web surfing using Amazons Silk browser
— watching streaming movies or TV shows **
— listening to music **
— reading Kindle books (the 7 is roughly the same size as a Kindle)
— playing games and other apps (within the limitation of Amazon’s own ecosystem)
— Kid use both offer the ability to set up child accounts with restricted access
— ** note comments below regarding sound quality and volume, particularly for the 7" model
IN ADDITION, THE 8 FIRE HAS:
— slightly larger and higher quality display (but I found both displays to be essentially equivalent in quality)
— larger standard storage (16 GB vs 8 GB)
— better sound Dolby audio, stereo (7 has mono speaker) **
— larger battery / longer life between charges (Amazon states up to 12 hours, vs up to 8 hrs for the 7)
— ** note comments below regarding sound quality and volume, particularly for the 7" model
WHAT DONT THEY DO AND WHAT ARE THEIR LIMITATIONS?
— Neither model will display 1080p video
— camera specs are poor compared to most current phone and higher priced tablets, so dont expect high resolution photos
— Sound quality and volume ability is a limitation - see next paragraph
— With limited built in storage, they both rely upon the expansion slot to store larger amounts of photos, videos, or music. Responsiveness using memory from the expansion slot is not quite the same as with a tablet that has greater hard wired storage built-in
— All Fire models are limited to using Amazons own Silk web browser, which is less flexible than the regular Chrome or Firefox browsers that can be used on regular Android or Apple tablets
THE SOUND QUALITY AND MAXIMUM VOLUME CAPABILITY IS A WEAK POINT
— Accepting the fact that these are very low cost tablets, they do offer the ability to listen to videos and music and so the built-in speakers will be relied upon by many users. In my opinion the most significant difference between these two Fire models, aside from the screen size, is the difference in sound quality. But I first want to say that neither model has the ability to provide much volume of sound, even at the very highest setting. This is a disappointment.
— The 7" Fire has a single speaker located on the rear of the device, near the bottom. It is weak and produces a very low quality sound. Also, depending on how you are holding the tablet, or if you’re using a case to hold it in landscape or portrait mode, the speaker could be covered and even further muffled.
— The 8" HD Fire has better quality sound - two stereo speakers located on the side, positioned so that they will be at the top when the tablet is supported in landscape mode. It also has better sound processing (‘Dolby Atmos’), and the sound quality is noticeably better than the 7". Still, the maximum volume capability is modest.
— Bottom line - if you plan to use either model for listening to music or videos, then ear pods or headphones or an external speaker is probably going to be necessary in order to get satisfactory sound. Sound quality is not going to be something owners of these small Fire tablets will be bragging about.
MY IMPRESSIONS OF BOTH MODELS AND HOW THEY COMPARE
I purchased both models and illustrate them side by side in my video. Theyre obviously very similar in feel and appearance, and the quality is excellent. I also like the matching Amazon cases that protect the screen when not in use and prop the tablet in either landscape or portrait orientation to make it easy to set it on a table to read or watch videos. The cases work exactly the same for both sizes.
The display is the most obvious difference not only size, but the slightly greater display content and resolution. At least that is what the Amazon specs suggest, but to my eyes they are both pretty much the same. I did find that the 7" model seemed to have a slightly brighter display, and the ‘whiteness’ of the display also seemed to be better.
The other difference I wanted to evaluate was the sound quality, since the 7" model has only a single speaker and the 8" model has two (stereo) speakers with Dolby sound processing. For anyone using this tablet for watching videos or listening to music, I thought that would be an important difference.
What I found, as also mentioned elsewhere in this review and with respect to the sound quality, was that the limited volume ability of the built-in speakers makes ear pods or headphones or the use of an external speaker almost mandatory. If those considerations are acceptable, then the higher price of the 8" model is probably well worthwhile for users who will use the table very much to listen to music or videos.
For reading Kindle books or those who prefer the smaller and lighter size, the 7 model is just great (either model is fine, really).
By comparison, the latest small iPad mini has a 7.0 display and is roughly between the 7 and 8 Fire tablets in size (width and height), quite a bit thinner, and about the same weight as the 7 Fire. Its considerably more powerful and has 128 GB storage standard, but think about it you can purchase eight 7 Fire tablets for the price of a single iPad mini today! That is really a striking difference.
These two models are the 7th generation Amazon Fire tablet the first generation was introduced in November, 2011 as the Kindle Fire, offering the same screen size and resolution but a considerably less powerful processor, and selling for $199. Along the way theyve offered models of various sizes and specifications, and for a short time (generations 3 and 4) their Fire models included the more sophisticated (and expensive) Fire HDX model that may have been intended to be a more direct competitor to Apples iPad.
Then, in September 2015, Amazon introduced the $49.99 Fire 7, and since that time it seems that theyve been happy to offer these bargain priced tablets that do everything that most people really need on a day-to-day basis. They make great Kids tablets, too, particularly the Kids Edition models that come with the more protective case and 2-year replacement guarantee, just in case your kid drops it in the, ah, swimming pool or some such!
The standard warranty for both Fire models is a short 90-days. Longer warranties - 1, 2 or 3 years - are available at extra cost ($10.99, $14.99, $16.99 respectively). Compared to most devices this is a very short standard warranty.
Both Fire models have a 2 MP rear-facing ‘HD’ camera, and a ‘VGA’ front-facing 0.3 MP camera. These are very mediocre cameras compared to just about any smart phone or tablet currently available and anyone wanting to take photos or videos with their tablet is not going to be satisfied with the quality that can be obtained from these Fire models, but they do suffice if all you want is to take a photo to make a visual note of something for future reference.
Both fire models include a 5W wall charger and a VERY SHORT USB cable (just over 3 ft long).
As with pretty much all Amazon Fire and Kindle models these days, you can purchase either of these tablets either with or without special offers. The $15 difference in price eliminates the ads that show when the screen is locked (but disappear when unlocked).
For anyone who wants a smaller and lighter weight tablet, these Fire models have become the logical choice. The prices are now so low that they can be a casual purchase for many people, not quite disposable but something easy to pass on when the next new model comes out.
I will continue to add more details here as I use these tablets more and have thoughts and comments to share.