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Welcome khổng lồ First Click, an essay written by The Verge staff in which we opine on lives lived in the near future.

It’s often posited that a major factor in the tablet market’s recent decline is a lack of reason lớn upgrade; most people use these devices for little more than nội dung consumption, và the one they bought years ago will often vày that job for years khổng lồ come. I don’t quite embody this myself, as I work on my máy tính bảng ipad Pro almost every day, but it’s not surprising khổng lồ me either — I also still use my Amazon Fire HDX from 2013 all the time.

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The weird thing with Amazon tablets in particular, though, is that if I did decide to buy a new one today it’d actually be a downgrade.

Amazon’s Fire tablets aren’t for everyone. If you care about app selection or productivity, there are far better options out there. But if all you want from your tablet is a simple device that’s bigger than your phone, easier lớn hold than your laptop, & better for watching videos & reading books than both — và I think that applies to lớn a lot of people — it’s hard to beat the 2013 Fire HDX. My 7-inch mã sản phẩm has a great 1920 x 1200 screen that holds up well even next lớn newer devices, and its Snapdragon 800 processor remains entirely fit for purpose. We recommended it over the higher-end 8.9-inch mã sản phẩm upon release.

But Amazon discontinued it in 2015, replacing the HDX with the Fire HD line. The Fire HD comes in 8-inch & 10.1-inch 16GB variants, both with 1280 x 800 screens. The smaller mã sản phẩm sells for $89.99 and the larger model costs $229.99, though it’s listed as out of stock until July. Given the identical resolution, more practical kích thước for ebooks, và dramatically lower price, I think the năm 2016 Fire HD 8 is clearly the more mainstream mã sản phẩm between the two, though you can save even more with the 7-inch 1024 x 600 8GB Fire at $49.99.

The upshot is this: not a single Fire tablet on sale today, a range of products ostensibly intended for the express purpose of watching Amazon Prime Video, has a 1080p-capable display. What?

Resolution isn’t everything, of course, so I wanted to check out the Fire HD 8’s screen in person before calling it bad. I ordered a Fire HD 8 last week. The screen is bad. Quite aside from the noticeably lower px density when compared lớn the HDX, the colors are washed out with a blue tint, the air gap is bigger, & it’s far more reflective. It’s a bad screen.

The HD 8 does have some advantages over the HDX. Despite its lower quality, I bởi prefer the 8-inch screen size, especially with the smaller side bezels. The speakers are a little better. The battery life seems better, too, though you’d expect as much from a bigger, thicker, & multiple years newer device. There’s a microSD thẻ slot and a rear-facing camera — it’s staggeringly bad, but it exists. Và the operating system, the apk Lollipop-based version of Amazon’s Fire OS known as Bellini, is a vast improvement; the UI is actually great, ditching the old carousel design for a simple system of icon grids, swipeable tabs, and a useful “recent” view; and it supports Alexa. (Granted, this “advantage” is because Amazon didn’t update the HDX’s software beyond Sangria, the KitKat version of Fire OS.)

But screen quality is everything for a tablet, particularly one primarily sold as a vector for Amazon’s own video service. Amazon’s original shows like TransparentThe Man in the High Castle are filmed in 4K, & Prime đoạn phim is one of the better sources of 4K và HDR content out there. It’s odd to lớn me that Amazon would drop ludicrous amounts of money on The Grand Tour, one of the most expensive shows ever made, and encourage you khổng lồ watch it on such an inadequate device.

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Pricing is, of course, a concern, và I’m sure the Fire HD 8 would be worth $89.99 lớn pretty much anyone that doesn’t own a tablet. Và Amazon says its low-cost strategy is leading lớn more sales. But I don’t think that explains why it couldn’t offer a credible higher-end device as well. The HDX 7 was $229.99 in 2013, the same price as the lower-specced Fire HD 10 today, và got steadily cheaper over time. 1080p panels are not exotic or expensive components these days. And this is the same company that sells the $289.99 Kindle Oasis, essentially a luxury ebook reader, alongside the $79.99 entry-level Kindle.

It was reported throughout năm ngoái that Amazon was refocusing its Lab126 hardware division, with projects including a 14-inch tablet said to have been put on ice. As someone that takes his 12.9-inch ipad tablet Pro on every vacation và weekend trip pretty much exclusively for use as a misshapen portable TV, I would have bought the heck out of that 14-inch Fire tablet if it were the best way khổng lồ watch Prime clip (and Netflix, và Hulu, and so on).

Now, I accept that a gigantic Amazon tablet would probably have been a very niche product & it’s not too surprising that it never saw release. A smaller tablet that can play Mozart in the Jungle in 1080p, though? That doesn’t feel like a stretch. I don’t think I need one myself — I still have my HDX, after all. But what about first-time buyers?

A year ago, I defended the Kindle Oasis by calling it a cork as opposed khổng lồ a screwcap bottle — it’s not materially better, but it is a lot nicer, and often that niceness can be worth paying for. The Fire HD 8, then, is box wine. It’s cheap, accessible, & does the job in a pinch, but you wouldn’t want all wine in the world khổng lồ be that way. With that said, here’s hoping Amazon sees the value in releasing another screwcap tablet sometime soon.

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