Ever since Amazon updated its Fire tablets for 2017, deciding which one is right for you has become even harder than ever. Yes, the Fire 7’s insanely low price of $49 is alluring, but how much more do you get for your money with the $79 Fire HD 8?
When buying a tablet for a child, the choice is even harder, as the Fire 7 Kids Edition and Fire HD 8 Kids Edition include the same two-year, no-questions-asked warranty, along with a kid-proof case and a year of FreeTime Unlimited apps, games and other content.
Here’s our advice on the best Fire Tablet for you.
Best Overall: Amazon Fire HD 8
It may cost a little more than the Fire 7, but the Fire HD 8 packs enough extras to justify that additional $30. Not only does it last 4 hours longer on a charge than the Fire 7 (that’s 58 percent more time to surf and read and play), but it’s also better for watching video, as its 8-inch, 1280 x 800-pixel display is sharper and brighter than the Fire 7’s 1024 x 600-pixel panel. Lastly, the Fire 8’s stereo speakers make it better for Amazon Prime Music, as the Fire 7 is rocking a single mono speaker.
We just wish that this tablet had a better camera and that Amazon didn’t charge users an extra $15 to remove the “special offers” advertisements that display on the lock screen. Still, the Fire HD 8’s display and battery life combine to make it the best tablet under $100.
Pros: Long battery life, Alexa built in; Sharpest display
Cons: Must pay extra to remove ads; Camera is blurry
Key specs: Display: 8 inches (1280 x 800 pixels); CPU: quad-core, 1.3-GHz processor; RAM:1.5GB; Storage: 16GB for $79, 32GB for $109; microSD expandability: up to 256GB; Cameras (Rear/Front): 2 MP/0.3 MP; Battery Life: 10:58; Weight: 0.81 pounds
Best for Kids: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
The last thing you want when you hand your kid a tablet is for them to come back a short time later and say, “It’s dead! Charge it!” Fortunately, the Fire HD 8 For Kids lasted a very long 10 hours and 12 minutes on our web-surfing battery test. Not only is that higher than the average for all tablets, but it also beats the Fire 7 Kids Edition’s 6:53 time by more than 3 hours. It’s also faster than the 7-inch kids’ tablet.
The included foam bumper means this slate can survive any drops and knocks your child can throw at it, and a two-year, no-questions-asked warranty means a free replacement if Junior actually breaks the device. The tablet also comes with a year of Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited service, a digital treasure trove that features more than 15,000 age-appropriate games, movies and TV shows, including most of the popular programs from Disney, Nickelodeon and PBS.
Detailed parental controls let you decide everything from what hours your child can use the device to what apps, content and websites he or she can visit. You can even set educational goals so your kid has to read for a certain amount of time in order to get playtime.
Pros: Best-in-class parental controls; Wealth of free content; Accidental damage coverage; Long battery life; No ads
Cons: Most expensive Amazon tablet
Key specs: Display: 8 inches (1280 x 800 pixels); CPU: quad-core, 1.3-GHz processor; RAM:1. GB; Storage: 32GB; microSD expandability: up to 256GB; Cameras (Rear/Front): 2 MP/0.3 MP; Battery Life: 10:12; Weight: 1.1 pounds
Amazon Fire 7 Tablet
It’s impossible to argue with the Fire 7’s $50 price tag, which makes this device one of the most affordable tablets available. The durable-feeling tablet also packs the Alexa digital assistant, which quickly responds to voice commands and can hear you from across the room. It’s important to note that neither Kids Edition tablet has Alexa. This tablet is not as cheap, though, if you want to remove the “special offers” ads from its lock screen, because that’s going to cost you an extra $15.
So, while the Fire 7 isn’t the fastest or longest-lasting Amazon slate (that’d be the HD 8), it’s still a solid tablet considering its super-cheap price.
Pros: Extremely affordable; Comes with Alexa built in
Cons: Must pay extra to remove ads; Low-res display; Mediocre battery life
Key specs: Display: 7 inches (1024 x 600 pixels); CPU: quad-core, 1.3-GHz processor; RAM:1GB; Storage: 8GB; microSD expandability: up to 256GB; Cameras (Rear/Front): 2 MP/0.3 MP; Battery Life: 10:12; Weight: 0.65 pounds
Amazon Fire Kids Edition (7-Inch)
Amazon’s $99 tablet for kids is an amazing deal when you consider everything you get. Not only does it come in a durable foam case that makes it easier for smaller hands to grip, but also, the best-in-class parental controls mean that moms and dads can make sure their progeny are staying safe online. On top of all that, you get a free year of Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited content — a buffet of kid-friendly apps, books, TV shows and movies — which normally costs $3 per month.
You and your kids may be disappointed by the slate’s audio quality, as this tablet’s mono speaker is tinnier than the HD 8’s stereo sound. But parents looking for a kid-proof tablet won’t find a more affordable option out there.
Pros: Cheapest option for kids; Great parental controls; Plenty of free content; Damage-protection guarantee
Cons: Poor battery life; low-res display
Key specs: Display: 7 inches (1024 x 600 pixels); CPU: quad-core, 1.3-GHz processor; RAM:1GB; Storage: 8GB for $49, 16GB for $69; microSD expandability: up to 256GB; Cameras (Rear/Front): 2 MP/0.3 MP; Battery Life: 6:53; Weight: 0.86 pounds