The Amazon FIre HD 8 does not bring anything new to the table in terms of design – it is a large rectangle with a screen. This particular rectangle has dimensions of 202 x 137 x 9.7 mm and a weight of 355g which is pretty average for such a tablet, although the device is lighter than many competitors.
Unlike most tablets, the front-facing camera is halfway up on the left side when you hold the device in portrait mode, rather than on the top this means it’s in a great position for video calling, as you can look at the screen while feeling like you’re looking into the camera. In this orientation, the USB-C port, 3.5 mm headphone jack, power button, and volume rocker are located on the top edge of the tablet.
The inclusion of a 3.5mm port will impress those who like their wired headphones, while the USB-C port ensures quick charging; however, we did have an issue with the volume rocker. When the Amazon Fire HD 8 is in portrait mode, the right half of the volume rocker turns the volume up and the left half turns it down – sounds simple, right? Well, when you flip the tablet to landscape mode, these functions are actually reversed.
It took us a while to get used to this, and it was especially confusing at first before we became aware of the problem. The back of the tablet is bare except for Amazon’s smile tick logo and the rear-facing camera. The material is plastic, which is another symptom of the low price, but it makes the device look a bit cheap. We’re streaming the amateur baking show “Nailed It” on Netflix, and the contestants’ hilarious creations are shown in all their ghastly colorful glory.
The picture runs remarkably smoothly, even when one contestant desperately presses the panic button because his dinosaur cake collapses. There is a brief moment of judder when the money gun squirts money around the winner, but overall it’s a competent performance. Nice features in the Fire HD 8’s display settings include Adaptive Brightness and Blue Shade, which reduces the amount of blue light on the screen. Since a tablet of this size is often used for reading before bed, this is a nice touch.
The Fire HD 8’s new game mode also makes playing Candy Crush Saga a pleasure – the candy whizzes across the screen and explodes when we swipe our finger across the touchscreen to make our connections. We try out the more graphically demanding Alto’s Odyssey, and the level of detail is very good when surfing in the endless desert.