…or should I say “Amazon Crap” as I’d like to talk about Amazon Fire HD 8. I have been using this tablet for about a year now and at this point I can say it is absolutely crap …and I love it!
First of all, I’m not a tablet person and I never planned to use my tablet a lot. I was looking for a cheapish device between a laptop and a smartphone. I didn’t need it to be beefy, I mostly wanted a highly portable device with a screen bigger than my phone’s to comfortably read things on it.
Fire HD 8 caught my attention due to its relatively low price and supposedly being good enough for light usage as apparently many very cheap tablets are bad even as paperweights. Importing it to Poland was a bit of a hassle but a friend abroad gave me a hand (thanks again!).
This tablet runs a heavily modified and locked down Android variation called Fire OS, not even connected to Google services by default as Amazon intends it to be used with their own ecosystem. I think this is the most crappy part of Fire HD 8 which ironically makes it so great. Since the OS is so locked down (being unable to change my launcher with no heavy hacks was the most painful thing), it limits my innate need to improve and tinker in things. I am almost certain if it would be a regular Android tablet, I would fill it with applications I don’t need, customize the hell out of it and ultimately make it slow down to a crawl, as is tradition on Android devices when you tinker with them too much. Additionally it limits my urge to connect it to too many services, so even if I were to lose it, it’s no real security concern as I have virtually no credentials there.
I’m speaking from experience: a few years ago I used to have a more powerful tablet at my disposal for a few months. I quickly got confused over what I was “supposed” to do on it and what on my smartphone. Since Fire OS is so annoying, it keeps me from overusing my tablet. It rules out any significant overlap between my phone and tablet usage and so also any need for configuration synchronization between them. Once again, less is more!
I use my Fire HD 8 as a big handheld screen for dumb stuff. Sketching, reading content unfriendly to a Kindle, sometimes watching movies or playing some games on the go (nothing too heavy but Baldur’s Gate works more than fine). Browsing the web is tolerable but the performance clearly encourages me to use a real computer instead, which I prefer anyway but might otherwise endure due to sheer laziness.
Apart from the screen size, there is one more clear benefit over using a smartphone here: a separate battery. I can carelessly use up all the battery in this non-critical device while keeping my phone operational. In the hindsight, this is the biggest benefit of a tablet for me.
Amazon Fire HD 8 is absolutely crap …and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
EDIT: For clarification, it is very possible to install Google Services onto a Fire, they just aren’t there out of the box.