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A good and affordable tablet

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus Tablet

Todd Haselton | CNBC

I’ve been testing Amazon’s new Fire HD 10 Plus tablet for the past few days. Shipping to customers began earlier this week and starts at $ 179.99, just over half the price of the entry-level iPad.

The Fire HD 10 Plus is Amazon’s highest quality tablet and has a few more features like additional memory and wireless charging that make it a better buy than the regular Fire HD 10 for $ 149.99.

Unlike Apple, Amazon’s tablet business does not generate a significant portion of the company’s revenue. Instead, they are just portals for Amazon’s content and services. They’re great because they’re cheap, but you can watch movies, stream music, and read books. They’re great when that’s all you need in a tablet. Still, I think most people who can save a little longer will find that they can do a lot more with an iPad.

Here’s what you need to know about the new Fire HD 10 Plus:

What is good

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus

Amazon

If you’re like many people who just want a tablet to browse some basic games, read Kindle books, stream Netflix and Amazon Prime videos, or music from services like Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music and others, the Fire HD 10 Listening to Plus (or even the entry-level Fire HD 10) is a great choice.

It’s lightweight and has a large 10.1-inch display that is clear, bright, and colorful. The tablet is made of plastic, but the soft-touch finish makes it feel a little less cheap. However, you won’t find any metal or other high quality design features that you would get on an iPad.

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus Tablet

Todd Haselton | CNBC

I like the stereo speakers that play audio from both sides of the tablet instead of just one side, so the sound is balanced when watching movies in landscape mode. They are good for making music – for example, I liked listening to classical music while reading at night – and they get loud enough.

Amazon increased the RAM to 4GB this year, which means it feels a little faster when running applications at the same time. It didn’t really feel sluggish to me even when I was running Netflix on one side of the screen while browsing the news on the other side.

Another bonus you don’t get with an iPad: there’s a microSD card slot to expand storage so you can download more movies, photos, and music to listen to when you don’t have a Wi-Fi connection. I recommend getting the cheapest 32GB model instead of the 64GB model for this reason, as microSD cards are cheap and easy to slip into the side.

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus on wireless charging station.

Amazon

Amazon offers wireless charging in case you want to purchase another optional accessory, the wireless charging dock, which brings the total cost to $ 219.99. It works well. You simply place the tablet on the dock and it charges. This will also not be found on an iPad.

There is a unique “Show Mode” and you can turn the Fire HD 10 Plus into an Amazon Echo Show with a screen. This is ideal if you are using the wireless charging stand. It shows you recipes, the weather and acts as an echo when you say “Hey Alexa” nearby. It’s handy if you’re an Echo household already and want to turn the tablet into a hands-free assistant in places like the kitchen. I mostly only watched movies while it was charging on my desk.

I also love that Amazon’s home screen shows you everything you need quick access to: the book you’re already reading, the last TV show you saw, books you might want to read, apps that you’ve recently opened and the weather. It’s super convenient. And you can easily control smart home devices like your lights and cameras if you’ve already connected them to an Amazon Echo. As expected, it just fits very well with Amazon’s products and services.

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus

Amazon

Amazon also launched a $ 49.99 Bluetooth keyboard case for its tablets earlier this year. It’s included in a new productivity pack with the regular – not plus – model of the tablet for $ 219. This package also offers a year of Microsoft Office worth $ 69.99. Amazon sent me the keyboard, which also works with the Plus model. It’s decent for a $ 50 keyboard and works well for things like typing in Microsoft Word. But the keys are a bit cramped and the backlight lacks, so I often only used a computer when doing real work.

Finally, the battery life was excellent in my tests. Amazon promises a usage time of up to 12 hours. I started looping a movie at 10am with the brightness set to about 50%, and at 10pm it was still playing with about 28% battery life. In doing so, it exceeds Amazon’s promise in this regard. Speaking of batteries: I think it’s good that Amazon continues to use the more modern USB-C charging port. This is the same charger that you may already be using on your computer or Android phone.

What is bad?

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus

Amazon

If you’re looking to access a lot of apps, the regular $ 329 iPad can get you a lot more cash. The Amazon AppStore is still pretty barebones compared to the Apple App Store. Of course, you get all of the major streaming apps like HBO Max, Netflix, Hulu, and other popular apps like Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, and more.

But others are missing. You won’t find Slack, for example. None of the Google apps like YouTube, YouTube TV, Gmail, Chrome, Maps and others are present. Instead, you have to rely on Amazon’s far inferior Silk browser when surfing the web (unless you want to hack something to use Google’s services). Keep this in mind if you think this is a great option for your kids to do homework: are the apps the school needs supported at all?

Speaking of browsers, it’s still not very good. You can use Chrome, Safari, or Edge on your computer or phone. But all of your websites and passwords stored in these browsers will not be transferred here. So you have to remember all your registrations for everything. It’s fine if, for example, you want to go to CNBC and read the latest news. However, it doesn’t do particularly well when you want to stay in sync with the browser that you use on other devices like your phone or computer. iPads support all of these browsers and stay in sync better.

And other things are missing that just seem strange. Amazon’s new Luna game streaming service, which works on Android, iPhone, PCs, and Amazon Fire TVs and is actually quite a lot of fun, isn’t supported by the tablet. Hopefully this will be added soon as you would expect an Amazon service to work on a tablet for Amazon’s media offerings.

The cameras aren’t that great either. The front-facing 2 mega-pixel camera is fine if you want to have a quick video chat, but it’s not very sharp and videos / photos are too dark. The same applies to the rear camera.

Should you buy it?

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus Tablet

Todd Haselton | CNBC

If you’re like a lot of people and really just want a tablet to catch up with Netflix on the couch, browse any of Amazon’s services and don’t have to worry about accessing certain apps like Slack for work or Google then make sure that the Fire HD 10 Plus is a fine tablet. And I think that’s exactly what Amazon is aiming for: people who just want something simple and affordable to watch movies and read books about. In fact, I recommend saving some cash and buying the $ 149.99 model, which has a little less RAM and doesn’t offer wireless charging, but still performs well and comes in three additional colors.

However, if you’re looking for a tablet with a far better browser, more apps, and a higher quality design, just save on the iPad for $ 329. I know it costs a lot more, but you can do more with it too.

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