Some of the most popular hardware products from Amazon are their Fire tablets. Their new Fire 7 tablet is the subject of my latest review.
Fire tablets are stock commodity Android hardware running with a forked version of Google’s Android operating system. Because they’re a gateway to digital purchases Amazon makes these things super inexpensive. But even though they are running a version of Android they don’t work with the Google Play store or its apps.
To get the best price on this you need to put up with lock screen advertisements. The ads are getting more aggressive now with some of them featuring video in addition to still images. Amazon does sell versions of the tablet without ads for a little more money.
This new tablet is about twice as powerful as the prior model, with the same guts now as the more expensive 8″ HD tablet. It has double the RAM of the previous model (2GB vs. 1GB) and 16 GB of storage on its base unit vs. 8GB before. Its SD card slot will accommodate up to a 1TB microSD card for additional storage. Even though it is faster it’s much more sluggish vs. an entry level iPad or Samsung tablet. But it’s also half to a third of the price of those devices.
The new Fire 7 has the same look and feel of prior models with large bezels and a plastic casing. But it’s pretty rugged and I would argue more-so than an iPad even without a case on it.
If you’re happy living in the Amazon app ecosystem or just mostly stick to web browsing and media watching (Prime, Netflix, etc), the Amazon tablets are fine. But I’ve found a number of apps where the Amazon version lacks features found in their Google equivalents.
For example the Xbox app does not support GamePass streaming even though the Google Play version does. And because this doesn’t run Google Play services you can’t run any official Google apps like Gmail, Chrome, or YouTube. The Youtube “app” Amazon offers is just a web wrapper of the YouTube website and lacks features found on their android app.
All in this is more of the same from Amazon with a little more performance. If you’ve had good experiences with prior Amazon tablets you’ll like this one. But tablet enthusiasts will feel a bit more restricted unless they hack Google Play onto their device – a process that is not supported by Google or Amazon and comes with some security concerns.