Amazon’s Fire HD 10 productivity tablet can’t beat the iPad

Apple isn’t the just one that thinks a tablet can change your laptop computer.

Final month, Amazon launched a brand new model of its Fire HD 10 tablet, and with it, a brand new “Productivity Bundle” that features a removable keyboard case and one-year subscription to Microsoft 365, a subscription service that features Microsoft’s Workplace apps. The implication is that Amazon’s tablet—greatest recognized till now as a reasonable media-consumption machine—can assist you get some work accomplished too. And at $220 for every thing, it’s lower than half the worth you’d pay to purchase Apple’s most cost-effective iPad ($329) and outfit it with a Good Keyboard ($159).

Maybe there’s a subset of customers for which that proposition holds up. However until your computing wants are extraordinarily fundamental, Amazon’s app ecosystem will really feel too limiting, and its lack of any Google apps may make it a nonstarter.

Whereas the concept of an inexpensive productivity tablet is intriguing, the Fire HD 10 isn’t up for the job. Amazon, whose {hardware} merchandise primarily function vessels for consuming its personal content material choices, has loads of incentive to promote you a tablet low-cost after which make it as interesting as doable to pay for motion pictures, music, and ebooks. But it surely doesn’t have a lot purpose to make getting work accomplished a focus.

Don’t blame the {hardware}

Amazon’s precise tablet {hardware} is okay. It’s a fundamental slab of plastic and glass with a pair of audio system on the prime edge and cameras on each the back and front sides. It has a 10-inch show that’s barely brighter than the earlier Fire HD 10, and it now contains extra reminiscence—3GB—to assist with switching between apps and browser tabs.

It nonetheless feels a bit pokey, although. You may discover the display screen lagging barely behind your finger whereas scrolling via apps, and when you’re making an attempt to multitask, apps can generally take a couple of seconds to reload every time you turn.

The Productivity Bundle will get you a Bluetooth keyboard case made to suit the Fire HD 10, and it’s truly fairly good. The case portion has a woven again that feels barely like leather-based, and the keyboard attaches to the tablet’s backside edge with a set of magnetized hooks, turning the entire factor right into a tiny clamshell laptop computer. It has a little bit of weight in the base so it doesn’t tip over in your lap, and you may pull the tablet aside from the keyboard to make use of by itself. Whereas the keyboard is smaller than that of a full-sized laptop computer, it has a good quantity of key journey, and I didn’t discover myself making too many typos.

[Photo: Amazon]

Not like the iPad’s Good Keyboard, which talks to the tablet via a set of connector pins, the Amazon keyboard’s Bluetooth connection means you’ll need to cost the keyboard’s battery occasionally—Amazon says it lasts for 400 hours—and switch off the keyboard when the tablet is indifferent, in any other case the on-screen keyboard gained’t seem. The upside is you could nonetheless use the keyboard whereas it’s indifferent from the tablet, and it will probably work double obligation as a keyboard for different Bluetooth gadgets. (I had no points utilizing it to sort on an iPad, as an example.)

Amazon’s app downside

Sadly, Amazon’s tablet software program hasn’t change into far more productivity-centric to match its {hardware}. Sure, it helps Microsoft’s Workplace suite now, and it comes with a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365, however in too many different methods the Fire HD 10 nonetheless looks like a tablet for media consumption.

The principle downside has to do with app choice. Whereas Amazon’s Fire working system is predicated on Android, the firm has its personal app retailer that’s separate from the Google Play Retailer, and anybody who is determined by fashionable productivity apps will shortly discover it missing.

Merely throwing collectively Microsoft’s Workplace suite with a keyboard feels out of contact with the occasions.

You gained’t discover productivity mainstays equivalent to Slack, Notion, and Acrobat on Amazon’s Appstore, nor can you employ standard password managers like Bitwarden or 1Password. Amazon’s collection of communication apps can also be restricted—there’s no WhatsApp, Telegram, or Sign—and I missed getting access to Raindrop.io, my favourite bookmark supervisor.

Google’s whole app suite is absent from Amazon’s platform as effectively, which implies no Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, or Chrome. Whereas Amazon does supply its personal electronic mail app, calendar, and net browser, all of them really feel bare-bones in contrast Google’s variations. You may’t use Amazon’s Silk browser to entry open tabs on different gadgets, as an example, and Amazon’s mail app lacks fashionable options like snooze, a number of swipe gestures, and a precedence inbox. (A minimum of you possibly can set up Microsoft’s superior Outlook app as an alternative.)

Granted, you possibly can keep away from these restrictions by putting in the Google Play Retailer on a Fire tablet, however this requires elaborate workarounds to get it onto the tablet. (When you have a Home windows PC, the easiest method includes a program known as Fire Toolbox, which may additionally take away Amazon’s pre-installed apps and set up a less complicated residence display screen.) Even then, the underlying Android tablet software program feels unrefined. Some apps, like Slack—which you’ll set up when you’ve hacked Google Play onto the Fire—make poor use of the tablet’s further display screen area, and there’s no straightforward method to drag and drop content material between apps.

A flawed strategy

The basic challenge right here is the ongoing chilly conflict between Amazon and Google. Amazon maintains its personal fork of Android’s open-source software program with its personal interface and preloaded apps. And Google isn’t much interested in supporting devices that, like the Fire tablets, aren’t fully Google-centric.

This uneasy scenario holds up effectively sufficient in the realm of media consumption. A Fire HD 10 tablet could possibly be simply high-quality for studying Kindle books, utilizing streaming video providers, looking social media, and taking part in the occasional sport. (Likewise, Amazon’s Fire TV gadgets maintain up effectively in comparison with streaming gamers primarily based on Google’s Android TV software program.)

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However with productivity comes a complete new set of calls for when it comes to what customers ought to be capable to do, and merely throwing collectively Microsoft’s Workplace suite with a keyboard feels out of contact with the occasions. The Fire HD 10 tablet and keyboard make a good low-cost combo on the {hardware} degree, however Amazon doesn’t appear significantly invested in having its software program sustain.

If you happen to actually need a cheaper various to the iPad for getting some work accomplished, take into account Lenovo’s $250 Chromebook Duet as an alternative. It comes with a removable keyboard case and runs Android apps from the Google Play Retailer, however it’s primarily based on Chrome OS, which implies you can even use the desktop Chrome browser for work. It’s not the speediest tablet both, however it handles the double obligation of labor and play much better than Amazon’s tablet does.

Both that, or resign your self to spending twice as a lot on an iPad with a keyboard as an alternative.