Amazon updated the Fire 7 tablet not too long ago - the company added Alexa to the pool of features, and with the AI voice assistant built-in, the £50 tablet is a real bargain.
Not only does it order food at your command, but provides you with a cheap tablet for the house, the car and the plane.
Previously called the Kindle Fire, Amazon rebranded the tablet and gave it a healthy spec boost. It also comes in four new tantalising colours, has dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, is 1mm thinner and 18g lighter.
The new Fire 7 can be found for £50 and at this price point, my opinion hasn't changed. It's still a cheap and cheerful tablet, which sits in a league of its own. There's nothing that truly comes close to it.
With a slightly improved battery life, better connectivity and its integration with Amazon Alexa, the Fire 7 is an excellent tablet for those watching the pennies.
The Fire 7 ships with just 8GB of storage, although there is a microSD slot to upgrade storage space. This is handy, particularly as a 32GB microSD card can be bought for less than £13. Ultimately, twice the storage for £10 more is worth it, and 16GB is enough storage for light use and web browsing, whereas 8GB is really not enough.
Start using the Fire, however, and it’s clear to see how Amazon has been able to make it so cheap. There might be a MediaTek MT8127 quad-core processor running at 1.3GHz, but it’s beyond sluggish. In Peacekeeper, a test of browser performance, the Fire 7 could only manage a pitiful 283 – easily the worst score of any tablet TechNews Europe Reviews saw even in 2015.
Even the three-year-old Nexus 7 managed over 100 points more overall. This translates to choppy scrolling, particularly on media-heavy web pages, with lots of re-draws if you have multiple tabs open at once. It doesn’t help that you’re forced to use Silk, Amazon’s own web browser, as Google apps such as Chrome aren’t available. It has most of the features you would expect, but performance doesn’t come close.
Everyday performance suffers on account of the underpowered chipset too. Loading even simple apps can take several seconds, as will opening the Recent menu or returning to the homescreen.
At first, it’s easy to think you simply didn’t tap the right place onscreen, but after a while it’s clear the device simply can’t keep up with your inputs. Once you’re in an app, things are mostly smooth, but animations and transitions are still disappointingly choppy.
In addition to more memory, Amazon has also introduced three vibrant colours. They're nice and bright, and certainly look much more fun than the traditional black version. This may be important if you're planning on buying a tablet for a child. While it's good to see these changes, they don't materially change my opinion of the tablet or affect its performance, as you can see from the rest of my review.
It doesn’t even look bargain-basement when you take it out of the box. Yes, the screen bezels are a little on the chunky side, and it’s surprisingly heavy given the size, but otherwise it’s actually not bad at all.
The Fire was never going to have an amazing screen, given its bargain-basement price, so in many ways a meagre 59.3% sRGB colour gamut coverage isn't surprising. It’s easily one of the lowest scores seen from a tablet, and 20% behind the Hudl 2. It’s a similar story in our other objective tests, with a fairly average maximum brightness of 330.2cd/m2 and a rather high 0.34cd/m2 black level that leaves darker images looking rather grey and milky.
A contrast ratio of 959:1 isn’t terrible, however; it means images and video have a surprising amount of depth, even if the colours aren’t very accurate. Subjectively, the screen looks grainy, and while viewing angles are respectable, the very low 1,024 x 600 resolution makes text look blocky and difficult to read in smaller fonts. Its readability has been improved since its 2016 release, with the new 2017 Fire 7 handling smaller text a lot better than before.
Price and options
Both models come with and without "Special Offers". These are adverts that are displayed on the lockscreen. To get rid of them, you'll need to pay an additional £10, resulting in a £59.99 (8GB) and £69.99 (16GB) price tag.
The new tablets come in four new colours: Black, Canary Yellow, Marine Blue, and Punch Red.
For the money you cannot go wrong, £49.99 it is more affordable than any other major tablet. The design is functional. You can access all of Amazon’s digital services and media with ease and Alexa is standard equipment.