In summary, for $79.99 you are getting a great deal on a medium-sized tablet computer - especially if you compare it to the pricing of an HD10 and the $500 or more you can spend on a Wi-Fi base version of competitor products. If you are a first-time tablet buyer, looking for a replacement tablet, or where price vs. value is a key consideration, as a heavy user of Fires for several years now I would highly recommend this one.
Initial setup of this year's model was relatively straight forward once I hooked it up to WiFi. Plan on spending a couple of minutes for a software upgrade to download and install – I set it down once the download started, made a cup of coffee and, upon my return the update was completed.
For me, the neatest new feature (new to me at least) was the immediate integration of the Alexa app – just hold down the home screen icon and ask Alexa whatever you’d like. It works just like my Echo and Echo Dots at home with answering questions, adjusting the thermostat, playing music, etc. As I am starting to automate my home more and more this is really convenient vs. having to purchase an Echo or Echo Dot for each room of the house where I would like the functionality.
Screen Display / Video Playback:
If video is your thing, this version of the Fire is very good: I’ve been comparing various episodes of a TV show in my video library to the last two previous Fire models and I think the picture quality is better. That could be a function of it being a new device in addition to some of the newer technical display options – I don’t know which one it is, but it works well. I’m used to a larger screen, however, for watching videos on a tablet and this may take a bit of an adjustment for me.
Sound / Music Playback:
The two speakers are located on the side of the Fire in two not-noticeable areas (there are six “holes” on the side for each speaker). My usual test of this feature is cranking up Van Halen's “Panama” to maximum volume (I always want to see if it could really play the guitar licks and hear the bass), and I would alternate covering one speaker up over the other: you have true stereo sound with no degradation of the sound that makes you think you are about to blow the speaker. The speakers sound nice and you do get to hear the bass.
As mentioned above, the device has the Alexa functionality built-in, and it was also able to easily replay my stored music as well as music I can access via my Prime membership.
Turning pages is easy - just tap the side of the screen to go to the next page or back a page, or you can swipe your finger across the screen to do the same. The fonts are easy on the eyes, and if you don’t like the lighting auto adjustment you can make the screen brighter or darker to suit your fancy.
If you are new to the tablet world, need (vs. want) a new one, or are looking to upgrade from the smaller size Fire I would say go ahead and get this one; if you're comparing a prior year's larger model to this version and it is operating fine, I'd say save your money and continue to get your money's worth out of the prior year's model. For me, rather than being my everyday “go to” tablet, I am going to have this one in our TV game room for general Internet surfing, Alexa inquiries / skills and home automation. For just $79.99, I consider this not only a good tablet but a viable Echo alternative.