My last real tablet was an iPad Mini 2. I bought it when it first came out back in 2013. It served me well for quite some time but eventually I gave it up because it became to slow and smartphones just got too good at doing everything. I also didn’t want to spend hundred of dollars buying a new model. With that said, I’ve been eyeing the Amazon Fire tablets for the longest time because of their rather low pricing and while I hadn’t used a tablet in a while, I really wanted something new to read books on. So after years countless Black Fridays, I finally decided to pick one up on Prime Day 2018, and here’s why.
For the low price of $29.99, you could easily pick up an Amazon Fire 7. That’s incredibly cheap for a tablet. That’s not what I bought though. A little research over at Slickdeals and I discovered that it was possible to get the Fire 7 for $9.99 and the Fire HD 8 for $19.99. What an incredible deal meaning I could pick up the Fire HD 8 for less than what I would have bought the Fire 7 for. And that’s what I did. I got myself a shiny, Punch Red colored, Fire HD 8 for about $20 and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. While not as fast or powerful as an iPad, I didn’t have to spend several hundred dollars on one and this thing does basically everything I want it to do…with a few tweaks of course, which I’ll get into below.
Installing the Google Play Store
While Amazon has it’s own Amazon App Store, it doesn’t nearly have as many apps in it a the Google Play Store does. Also the Fire HD 8 does not come installed with any Google apps, meaning no Gmail, Chrome, Hangouts, Youtube, etc. and there’s no way to download them from Amazon’s App Store. You’ll need to do a bit of leg work, but you can get Google’s Play Store installed on the tablet. How you might ask? Well, the easiest guide I found was here from Laptop Mag. It literally goes step by step what you need to download and in what order to install these files to get the Play Store up and running. It’ll take around 10 minutes or so and it’ll be well worth it once you’re done.
Now the Amazon Fire HD 8 works a bit more like a regular Android tablet. There are ways too of replacing the stock Amazon launcher, but I’m not ready to do that yet and I honestly don’t mind it.
Removing the Lockscreen “Special Offers”
What I did mind however where the “special Offers” that appears on the lockscreen. Every time your tablet goes to sleep and you press the power the wake it, the lockscreen appears with Special Offers. This can not be removed manually unless you either (1) hack it, or (2) head on over to the Amazon site and give Amazon $15 to unsubscribe from Special Offers. It’s understandable though that Amazon would want to run ads on your tablet seeing as they literally give them away at such a cheap price but it doesn’t mean you have to like it. Most people are probably happy to pay the $15, especially if you bought it for super cheap like I did. I’m not most people though.
Let’s just say there’s a way to do it for free without having to hack it. Head over to this post on XDA.
Right now, nothing. I’m just happy messing around with it as a media consumption tool. It’s great for watching movies, reading all my blogs I follow, and ebooks. I haven’t really tried playing games on it, but I’m in no real hurry to use it as a gaming machine. For now, I’m happy with the way it is. Google Play Store helps a bunch and not having ads is even better. Now all I need is a case for this thing.