Features / Tech

Gift Guide 2021: Amazon Fire HD 10 11th Generation [Review]

Here’s the truth, as recent months have welcomingly opened up my world, I’ve jealously sat on trains or in coffee shops as I’ve struggled to reach a plug with my dated laptop or peered and zoomed in on my decent-sized Android just to see a film trailer. Why the envy, you ask? Well, that’s reserved for people I don’t know effortlessly relaxing with their tablets, propped up on those small train-tables, streaming HD shows with wireless headphones, reading books, writing or checking emails. Meanwhile, I sit at an awkward angle and try to watch Invasion, Squid Game or I Know What You Did Last Summer on Prime Video via my phone…

My lack of the latest tablet isn’t purposeful but is overdue, so this Amazon Fire HD 10 (11th Generation) comes at the perfect time to evaluate, play and see what it can do. As it is for many, tech’s a huge part of my life these days, with various interconnective devices at the home, which includes a Nest Learning Thermostat, Bluetooth speakers, touch lamps and my 4th Generation Echo Dot with Alexa (review here) –which I’d genuinely miss if you took her away –so the Fire HD 10 is a special way to extend all the good stuff, and connect even further.

Today, I’ll be streaming films and TV shows, playing music via Tidal (and connecting to external speakers), basic gaming, diving into the Kindle (even though I’m a huge supporter of the physical book) and using Microsoft Word, as I write and review on the road – as well as at home – and even good old social media. So reasonably extensive, I’m sure you’ll agree!

First Impressions

This is a solid piece of kit, with a bright 10.1” screen, 1080p Full HD display and you can tell it’s a great one from the second you switch on, especially with that welcoming messaging all warm and new.

For those who know a bit more on the tech side and trust me it’s changing so quickly I can’t always keep up, this has a 3GB RAM, a strong battery that’s easily chargeable and the option for 1TB of expandable storage for offline viewing. Basically, you’ve got nothing to worry about with however many films or books you want on your travels – and you can charge pretty much anywhere now with wires that wind up and slip into any pocket of your jacket, bag or trousers.

What can I watch, and how good does it look?

Of course, it all starts with Prime Video, but you can also add in Disney+ and Netflix – who both offer offline content to download for when you’re travelling anywhere. So, no worry about buffering on the move, although our Wi-Fi thankfully has no issues, you can load up on new shows and films to your hearts content!

One of the key elements for the Fire HD 10 is the Full HD, it sounds like a given but do not underestimate the clarity and power this offers, and here it’s giving you truly vivid visuals. What a world we’re living in! They don’t stop there either because it also has Dolby Atmos, which means your immersive experience is even more enveloped in excellence.

I assessed the viewing and sound experience with Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, which is perfect for this type of experiment, and it excels. Obviously, it’s a brilliant film but for a movie of such scale, are you still pulled into the world on a smaller screen? Yes, absolutely, and this was with wireless Urbanista Earphones, which might have Active Noise Cancelling options (ANC meaning it ‘blocks out’ outside sound), but the combination remained an exciting experience.

For a glorious taster of the Dolby Atmos, delve into the bus fight-scene in Shang-Chi for an example, you get the bass and a full flavour of sound pulsing through and even if you haven’t got wireless ear or headphones, Amazon are smart enough to leave the old headphone jack, so you can plug right in. I don’t really understand why Apple have taken that away from people, so this option keeps it in the mainstream running, and all for the better.

Music, Kindle, and Games

While it’s easy enough to already connect an Echo Dot and Amazon Music, I also use TIDAL (a fine music app), and the latter both offer ‘HD’ music streaming. This means you should be getting high quality sound. While I usually don’t like playing music via smaller devices, because candidly the speakers won’t do the songs justice, you can if you wish but I’d recommend picking up a wireless speaker and then connect via Bluetooth.

In this situation, I connected to a wireless speaker via the Fire HD 10, using TIDAL and then seeing how the setup worked. I trialled out Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) for the pop-art element, and then also Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, connected wirelessly and through earphones, and found no issues with the quality. Which is all you need to know really. Again, home connectivity depending.

For Gaming, in this test, I’ve voted for the basic ones you download on any device. Angry Birds 2 is a good example because I have it on my Android, so it easily downloads and picks up my account on the Fire HD 10. If you’re into these kinds of games, I didn’t find any problems bar getting used to a screen that’s much bigger than I’m used to, for which is easy enough to re-train the brain. If you’re looking at bigger gaming ponders, I’d still recommend a Desktop, laptop or obviously a proper console, and I don’t think any tablets are needed for that commitment.

Microsoft Office and everything else…

Having Office on my devices is vital, I use Word regularly and I integrated it quicker than you click on your spellcheck editor. If you already back up your writing, of any kind, from your laptop or desktop, then you’ll know the Word cloud is auto-saving, this means I can access my writing on any device within a very quick time.

Of course, it works here on the Fire HD 10 without difficulties. I prefer physical keyboards, but this offers the auto-suggest with words, which is needed to keep it at a fast enough pace for my liking. They’ve also got the lovely addition of multitasking with little issue, I’ve tried it with reading and using Microsoft Office to make notes while reviewing, plus you can also check your emails, make a call and so forth – it’s nice and straightforward in that respect.

Twitter installs as easy as any app these days, and you can add more than one account if you need to. It also has an Alexa ‘hands-free’ mode you can adjust, which would be useful depending on where you’re using it. Amongst things we’ve already discussed, it’s also handy for recipes but careful if you’ve got your Echo device nearby, or Alexa is also on phone, because you might have a slight clash but – again – it can be turned on or off with a literal single tap to the screen, depending on your preferences.

Any problems?

The only thing I personally missed was an actual keyboard, but that’s what I’m used to, and you can get that as an add on if you want to. As with any new tech, you don’t want to drop it so I picked up a case to strength it up (make sure you get the 11th Gen one) – you can also get an official Amazon one to if you fancy paying a bit more.

Summary

The crucial thing for me, beyond all the quality I discovered, is the battery life and that has lasted easily for a few weeks, with just one full recharge. I’ve had no concerns and it’s easy to charge. As a side note, this is the adult version of the Fire HD and while there are separate versions for kids (head here), this is family friendly and so if you’re brave enough to pass it across to your more responsible older offspring, it’ll do the job, and it’s also got parental controls for screen-time and age-appropriate content, should you wish to keep control of things.

So, there’s no more awkward shoving of a laptop into your bag, or not-quite-comfortable angles on the backs of seats on planes or trains, this is a beautiful, compact and reliable piece of kit. Let’s be honest, we all know by now that tablets are the future and this 11th generation it a solid machine that gives you everything you want, with excellent Dolby Atmos, and is perfect for yourself or as a gift for someone, whatever the season!

There’s currently a Black Friday deal on for this Fire HD 10 tablet, taking it to an amazing £79.99, usually £149.99, grab it now https://amzn.to/3nKoyiE

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