Amazon Fire HD 10 Review: An Inexpensive Large Entertainment Tablet
Amazon Fire HD 10 Software And User Interface
Like Amazon’s less expensive 2015 7-inch Fire tablet, the Fire HD 10 runs on Fire OS 5, Bellini. This is a heavily modified version of Android that has direct ties into Amazon’s content ecosystem. After just a few minutes of using the Fire HD 10, you’ll notice nearly everything ties into Amazon in some way including reading e-books, watching videos, saving photos to the cloud, or listening to music. If you’re an Amazon Prime user, you’ll be ready to take full advantage of these direct links between Fire OS and Amazon.
Fire OS 5 Bellini is different from previous generations of Fire OS. Amazon has removed the giant app carousel and provided room for more icons directly from the Home screen. On the Home screen, you’ll find a row at the top that features New Items followed by a grid of app icons. If you swipe to the right of the Home screen, you’ll find a new screen that contains recently used applications. By swiping to the left from the Home screen, you’ll find a variety of screens organized for specific purposes (Books, Video, Games, Shop, Apps, Music, Audiobooks, and Newsstand). At the top of each page, you’ll find a Search bar along with Library and Store icons.
You’ll find many of Amazon’s standard apps and features preinstalled on the Fire HD 10 including Shop Amazon, Silk Browser, Amazon’s Appstore, Amazon Video, Amazon FreeTime, Kindle Books, Goodreads, Email, Weather, and others.
When you swipe down from the top of the screen, you’ll see a quick settings option that lets you change the screen’s brightness, toggle Wi-Fi, Airplane Mode, Blue Shade, and Do Not Disturb options. There are also quick access icons for the Camera, Help, screen orientation, and the Settings menu.
Fire OS 5 Bellini also includes a number of features we haven’t seen on previous Fire OS devices including Blue Shade, Activity Center, Amazon Underground, and Word Runner. Blue Shade is designed for users who like to red in bed. This feature uses special filters to limit the blue light exposure which has been shown to limit the body’s production of melatonin and interfere with our ability to fall asleep. Instead, the Blue Shade feature uses warm color filters and ultra-low brightness settings.
Activity Center is designed for parents who want to know what their kids have been doing on the tablet while still giving greater freedom than you would get with the company’s FreeTime service. With Activity Center enabled, parents can visit a secure page to see how much time their kids have spent playing games, watching videos, and reading. Parents can also review browsing history within the Activity Center.
Word Runner is designed to help you read faster by bringing one word at a time to the center of the screen. Word Runner will adjust to your preferred reading speed and will automatically slow down for difficult words, punctuation, and paragraph breaks. If you’re curious to see how this feature works, you can check out Amazon’s demo video at www.amazon.com/wordrunner. We were pleasantly surprised by how much we liked this feature.
If you share your Fire tablet with others, you’ll appreciate the Profiles option found in the Settings menu. With Profiles, each user can customize their home screen, email, social media accounts, and other options.
Because the Fire tablets use Amazon’s App Store rather than Google Play, you won’t have access to all of the applications that have been developed for Android. Amazon’s App Store is sizeable, but it’s still missing some apps you may be accustomed to using such as Instagram, Dropbox, or Snapchat (there are third-party options for many of these apps, just not the official ones).
This is the first generation of Fire tablets with a microSD expansion slot. While we’re grateful for the ability to expand the tablet’s storage and really like the way Amazon lets you download Prime content to the media card to save internal storage, we wish Amazon would have included a file viewer application on the tablet.
Another cool way Amazon takes advantage of the potential for increased storage via a microSD card is with its On Deck feature. This feature automatically downloads popular Prime movies and TV shows, as well as Amazon Original Series to the tablet. This way, you’ll never have another long flight without something to watch. On Deck is designed to use the available storage on your tablet in a special shadow mode. If you need additional storage space, On Deck will automatically make room.