Amazon's Fire Tablets aren't a dime a dozen but they're pretty close. However, after 11 generations with little change between each of them, the corporate behemoth may be itching to grow its customer base. Case in point, the new Fire HD 10 stars in an optional bundle featuring a keyboard cover and a Microsoft 365 subscription. So, can you use a Fire tablet — the most commoditized of its type and greatly popular for casual use — for work?
Aside from Samsung, Lenovo is one of the few Android OEMs that bothers to release tablets. The company has a tendency to be showy with products in the Yoga series, especially the one with that weirdo keyboard. But this ain't no Yoga — the Android-powered Tab P11 Pro is a typical tablet with an optional keyboard accessory. It was announced last year and launched just recently.
Android tablets have a tough time competing at the high end; iPads more or less single-handedly dominate that space. But if you're looking to spend a couple hundred bucks on something to watch Netflix in bed, you're probably not shopping Apple. You're probably looking for something like Samsung's latest budget tablet, the Galaxy Tab A7: it's cheap, it's got a nice screen and speakers, and the battery lasts for days. There's not a lot to dislike here.
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Amazon's Fire tablets are popular for one, simple reason: they're really, really cheap. But what happens when you make a slightly-less-cheap Fire tablet? That's the question Amazon sought to answer with the Fire HD 8 Plus, a very-slightly-better version of the new Amazon Fire HD 8 last month, which was already a decent upgrade from previous Fire tablets in both hardware and software.
With the HD 8 Plus, Amazon attempts to bring some quality of life improvements like more RAM and wireless charging—a rarity in any tablet—to the table. Combined with the wireless charging stand that essentially turns the HD 8 Plus into a detachable Echo Show, Amazon has what to date is probably the best version of a combination tablet smart display (even if it's not amazing as either).
Samsung is the only manufacturer interested in producing high-end Android tablets, but last year, the company added a slightly cheaper option to its Tab S lineup. The Galaxy Tab S5e retained the high-quality AMOLED screen and thin design of Samsung's highest-end models, but lacked the Tab S4's stylus support (and still cost over $400). This time around, Samsung is trying something different with the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite.
Despite its faults, the new Galaxy Tab S6 Lite might be the strongest iPad competitor Samsung has ever produced. The hardware won't blow you away, and it doesn't have all the features of the more expensive Tab S6, but it's a full-fledged tablet with an included S Pen stylus for $350 — only $20 more than the cheapest iPad, not including the $100 Apple Pencil.
I think it's fair to say that Amazon's lineup of Fire tablets don't have the best reputation, particularly in the tech community. Fire tablets have historically paired bottom-of-the-barrel hardware with outdated versions of Android, and Amazon's extensive changes to the operating system aren't widely loved. The tablets also don't ship with the Google Play Store, though that at least is a quick fix.
Amazon has been selling the same Fire HD 8 since 2018, but the company finally released a new model last month. It brings most of the improvements from last year's Fire HD 10 to the 8-inch lineup, including USB Type-C and faster performance, and I think it's a pretty great buy for $90.
Walmart released two tablets under its 'Onn' tech brand last year, the Onn 8 and Onn 10. We reviewed the smaller model, and for $65, it wasn't a bad device at all. Unlike Amazon's Fire tablets, which use a heavily-modified build of Android with only Amazon's own app store, the Onn 8 shipped with the Play Store and clean Android 9 Pie.
This year, Walmart is going for a slightly higher-end experience with its new Onn 8 Pro and Onn 10 Pro tablets. The prices have gone up a bit ($99 and $129, respectively), but in exchange, the models now offer slightly better hardware, Android 10, and USB Type-C connectivity.
Amazon has mastered the art of selling cheap Android tablets. The company shipped roughly 11.9 million tablets in 2018, passed only by Apple, Samsung, and Huawei. The combination of decent performance, Alexa integration, and low prices have made the success of the Fire lineup difficult to copy.
Walmart is already competing with Amazon on severalfronts, so it only makes sense that the company would try to make tablets too. The Walmart "Onn" comes in two sizes, 8 inches and 10 inches, intended to compete with the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10, respectively. I bought the $65 8-inch model for review, and while it won't break any speed records, it undercuts the Fire HD 8 and has a better software experience to boot.
The Pixel Slate is, in a word, flawed. It’s not a very good laptop; the official keyboard case is nigh-unusable on anything but a completely flat surface, far too bulky for most airline trays, and the folding fabric kickstand can make balancing it a precarious affair. Nor is it an especially good tablet, with Chrome OS’s full-touch experience making it feel more like an unfinished software science experiment than a real first generation product.
Buggy Bluetooth, strange screen tearing, and frustrating tablet web browsing take what has already been a disappointing experience and make it downright frustrating. How can a product so closely related to Google’s wonderful Pixelbook - and in many real ways, superior to it - be so much worse?