Amazon Fire HD 7 Tablet (2014) Review

Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: Amazon's Fire HD 7 performs well where it matters most, and that's in casual activities like surfing the web, listening to music, watching videos, and other common tasks that owners will ask of the device. In terms of benchmarks, the Fire HD 7 posted respectable scores in our run of browser-oriented tests like SunSpider and Browsermark, though it didn't fare very well when we turned our attention to gaming. That doesn't mean you can't play games on the Fire HD 7, though as we saw in 3DMark and GFXBench, there's a clear (and massive) performance gap between the Fire HD 7 and high-end slates like Apple's iPad Air 2 and NVIDIA's SHIELD tablet. There's also a pretty big price discrepancy.

As sometimes is the case, we have mixed feelings about the Fire HD 7. Compared to previous models, as well as what the competition is offering, the physical design of the Fire HD 7 feels like a downgrade. The plastic casing comes in a number of color options, which is great if that matters to you, but it also comes at the expense of a premium feel. It's not that we think all tablets have to come wrapped in an aluminum chassis, but a rubberized backing as found on previous versions and the now defunct Nexus 7 feel superior to the plastic enclosure used here. That said, we understand that this is a $139 device, and for that, we're willing to cut Amazon some slack.

What's a bit more difficult is where to draw the line when sacrificing features and performance for a lower price tag. The Fire HD 7 makes a number of compromises that go beyond the physical construction -- it only has 1GB of RAM, you're limited to downloading apps from Amazon's App Store for Android, the built-in cameras are underwhelming, there's no expandable storage or HDMI output, and the display resolution is only 1280x800.

At the same time, the Kindle Fire HD 7 excels at what it's meant to be, which is a content consumption device and a portal into Amazon's ecosystem. Tapping into the benefits of your Prime membership on the Fire HD 7 is really what it's all about, and it handles those tasks with aplomb. From watching movies to reading e-books, the Fire HD 7 is a handy device to have with you, whether it's around the home or traveling on vacation. And though it's not a barn burner in the benchmarks, the foundation is fast enough to handle a variety of tasks without any performance hiccups.

This brings us back to price. Starting at $139, the Fire HD 7 is one of the most affordable name-brand tablets out there. Just be sure you know what you're compromising before making the leap.

  • Price is easy on the wallet
  • Various color options
  • Decent sounding speakers
  • Tight integration with Amazon's services (if you're into that)
  • Bright display is somewhat viewable in sunlight
  • Plastic construction
  • Subpar cameras
  • Not suitable for high-end gaming
  • Tight integration with Amazon's services (if you're not into that)
  • Lacks expandable storage and HDMI output

Related content