Top critical review
Good if on a discounted deal, otherwise OK
10 September 2018
This is a solid feeling, well assembled tablet that will likely survive a few knocks and scrapes. The display is quite good but not quite premium quality. The stereo sound is the same, and not especially loud, but functional.
I bought this on a Prime Day deal when it was £100, and to be fair you cannot beat the specifications at that price, and even at the headline £150 price its still represents reasonable value. We have had a few Android tablets and an IPad 2 and we already have 2 other Kindle Fire's in the household, the 7" and 8", bought on deals as presents which we are fine. The screen compares well and particularly the 1920x1200 resolution, again at this price point is unmatched. The tablet is not overly heavy and is a really useful size for reading or browsing with an advantage over say, using your phone and that's primarily what I used it for over the last few months.
I chose the "with Special Offers" because they're only on the lock screen so its not a big intrusion. Actually, out of the box this tablet is mainly a shop window for all things Amazon anyway, so if you haven't got Prime or you're not a big Amazon user I'd question its usefulness? The Fire OS interpretation of Android reminds of what Barnes and Noble did with the Nook, you are buying a subsidised tablet that is very locked into the eco-system and therefore limited compared to regular Android. I don't think I fully appreciated that you are buying an Amazon tablet more than an Android tablet, there are some limitations with this.
However, I sideloaded Google Play store on (N.B. not officially supported), there are guides, just install the apks in the right order and it works. You cannot run and do everything as per normal Android and you are stuck with the Fire launcher, no swapping the shop front for Novalauncher. Obviously no Chromecasting and a few Google account specific options aren't there. You can't create multiple users in the same way as you can normally for sharing with family. You're restricted two admin/adult accounts and 2/3 children severely limited accounts. You may prefer this with very young kids but my kids don't really use it as a result. Most apps do run OK including Chrome and pretty much all the apps I wanted to use, so I was happy with that. Importantly, if you paid for an app once via Google, you don't now have to pay twice in the Amazon store. If you DO NOT install the Google Play store the Amazon App store is pretty woeful in comparison and would render this tablet fairly useless IMHO.
So you've got a pretty well spec'd tablet at a great price, what's the problem?
* Wifi dropouts - It seems to drop the Wifi far more regularly than other devices, maybe some sort of aggressive power management. The signal is not as strong as phones and other tablets in the same location.
* Performance - It isn't as quick as the specs suggest and I often find it lagging doing everyday browsing in both Silk and Chrome. Rebooting can sometimes help. It also stutters badly on certain web video streams, although YouTube, Netflix and of course Amazon Video are fine. I haven't tried games but I wouldn't expect anything spectacular.
* Battery life/charging - Not dismal but perhaps a bit disappointing, if you're a heavy user, you'll be charging twice a day or more, or a light user, every 2-3 days. Charging is quite slow, 4+ hours from flat, and the device always boots into the full OS when you plug it in, which must affect that.
In conclusion, even with its flaws, which you'd find on other cheap tablets, and probably worse, anyway:
* On the offer price, with Google Play sideloaded - yes, and worth 4 stars
* At the regular price, with Amazon App store - 3 stars, I personally wouldn't go for it but it will still function OK for browsing and accessing Amazon content, which might be all you need.