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Amazon Fire HD 6

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: N/A, WiFi only
Manufacturer: Amazon

What's Hot: Very low $99 price with good quality and support.

What's Not: As expected for the price, display resolution, CPU and wireless specs aren't impressive.


Reviewed October 7, 2014 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

It's more confusing than ever to choose a Kindle or Fire tablet. Price used to make it easy: e-Ink Kindle readers were the least expensive, so for those who were price conscious and primarily wanted to read books, the basic $79 Kindle with touchscreen was the obvious choice. Now Amazon has Fire HD tablets that are very affordable, while the Fire HDX line remains the more expensive high line. Today we look at the Fire HD 6, which is not only similar in price but also size to the 2014 Kindle ereader.

Amazon Fire HD 6

The Fire HD 6 is just $99 with offers (ads on the sleep screen) for the 8 gig version, though we strongly suggest you get the $119 16 gig model because the 4 gigs of available storage on the 8 gig model isn't enough to store a hearty music library and 3D games. See, Amazon's already upselling you: just $20 for a more livable 2x storage increase. And then there's the display: 1280 x 800, which is a tad over 720p, but doesn't compare to the 1080p or higher displays on the HDX line. Hmmm... if you like full HD movies in actual full HD, the 7" Fire HDX is just $60 additional and even the base model has 16 gigs of storage. My point is that the $99 price point will get lots of people looking, and Amazon hopes you'll move up to something better before hitting that buy button.

Amazon Fire HD 6

That's not the say the $99 Fire HD 6 is a bad tablet. It's actually remarkably good for the price (with emphasis on "for the price"). The 6" IPS display is sharp and decently bright, but color saturation doesn't approach the near perfection of Amazon's HDX tablets or even the latest generation full HD Nexus 7 (which, to be fair, cost around twice as much). In fact, it doesn't even have auto-brightness; you'll control brightness manually using a slider. It's good for reading and surfing, but not quite as stunning when watching Amazon Prime videos. Colors don't pop but they aren't deadly dull either. Though brightness is good, the display doesn't have any fancy manufacturing tricks like bonded glass to help reduce reflections, and in bright locations display brightness doesn't overcome the tablet's severe glare. But for $99 it's a great screen. Given that companies you've never heard of make most tablets in this price range, Amazon's reputation and customer service take the fear out of buying a budget tablet too. The CPU is a 1.5GHz MediaTek, and while they're showing promise with some upcoming higher end CPUs, their offerings to date underperform the more pervasive Qualcomm Snapdragon used in the HDX and many Android phones, and it's less power efficient too.

Amazon Fire HD 6

The concessions to price continue with single band WiFi 802.11n vs. the faster dual band WiFi with MIMO on the HDX line. If you live in a WiFi polluted environment, you might get smoother streaming video with dual band WiFi. The tablet has front and rear cameras, but they're just VGA up front and 2MP on the back, similar to flip phones circa 2006. That said, the rear camera takes decent shots in terms of colors and clarity, even if your smartphone camera puts it to shame. The front camera is adequate for Skype and honestly looked better than expected given the VGA resolution. There's no 3G or 4G LTE option for this model: Amazon wants you to buy the Fire HDX if you need that optional feature.

Amazon Fire HD 6


Deals and Shopping:


Amazon Fire HD 6 Video Review


Amazon Fire HD 6

The Amazon Kindle $79 eReader and the Fire HD 6.


  Quadrant 3D Mark Ice Storm Sunspider JavaScript Test (lower is better)
Amazon Fire HD 6 6231 10,406 (unlimited) 655
Amazon Fire HDX 7" 20,382 16,657 (extreme) 605
Kindle Fire HDX 8.9(2013, Snapdragon 800) 19,021 12,406 (extreme) 572
Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 9181 4615 (unlimited) 920
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 17,914 9322 (unlimited) 605
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 23,355 15,530 395
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 7054 3299 (extreme) 1024



Does that mean this is a poor tablet? Nope. It's actually fairly responsive and runs Amazon's customized version of Android, called Fire OS 4 "Sangria" smoothly enough. All the Fire features we've enjoyed are here, just as on the more expensive Fire tablets. Amazon Instant and Prime videos, the Kindle bookstore and magazine (we find the screen a little small for print-style magazine rendering), apps from the Amazon Appstore, music and Prime Music, the Silk web browser, email, parental controls and Amazon FreeTime. This is a fine tablet for casual games like Bejeweled or Plants vs. Zombies but forget about big 3D games that require 3 gigs of storage like some GTA titles and Batman: The Dark Knight Rises--they wouldn't even fit on our 8 gig HD 6 that had just 4 gigs total available for our use. And the CPU plus graphics chip aren't really up to delivering constant smooth frame rates in today's most demanding games. But it's a $100 tablet--how much can you expect?

The design is decidedly chunky and rugged, though not as rugged as the new $149 Fire HD Kids Edition. The straight sides don't make it look slim and it's a bit heavy at 10 ounces. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7" model (also sold by Barnes and Noble as their Galaxy Tab Nook) is lighter and more svelte, but it costs $179. The Fire HD 6 casing is matte plastic, and you have a choice of several colors too. It has the usual 3.5mm stereo audio jack with Dolby audio (a more pleasing alternative to the mono rear-firing speaker on the bottom back edge), micro USB 2.0 port for charging and file transfer, volume and power controls. There's no microSD card slot, so you'll have to live with the internal storage--hint, don't skimp at checkout.


This is the first time I can honestly say if you're on a tight budget or are looking for a starter tablet, go ahead and get this $100 tablet. The Fire HD 6 obviously isn't a top dog tablet when it comes to specs, design or weight, but it does everything a Fire tablet should do perfectly well. It's sharp enough for reading, has an IPS display with good viewing angles, comes with Amazon's class-leading support and ecosystem and it's sturdy. If you want faster dual band WiFi, quad core CPU performance and a full HD display or Amazon's MayDay service, there's always the $179 Kindle Fire HDX 7" with 16 gigs of storage. And yes, Fire tablets can stream Netflix too!

Price: $99 for 8 gig model, $119 for 16 gig model, add $15 if you don't want "offers" (ads on device).



Related Reviews:

Amazon Fire HDX 7 & 8.9 Review

Kindle eReader Review

Kindle Paperwhite Review



Amazon Fire HD 6


Amazon Fire HD 6

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Display: 6" IPS capacitive touch screen. Resolution: 1280 x 800. Has accelerometer for automatic screen rotation.

Battery: Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable. Claimed battery life: up to 8 hours. Charging time: 6 hours.

Performance: 1.5GHz MediaTek MT8135 processor (2 high power and 2 low power cores) with PowerVR graphics. 1 gig RAM. 8 or 16 gigs storage.

Size: 6.7 x 4.1 x 0.4 inches. Weight: 10.1 ounces.

Cellular: N/A, WiFi only.

Camera: VGA front camera and 2MP rear camera.

Audio: Built in speaker with Dolby audio, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated single band 2.4GHz WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth.

Software: Amazon Fire OS 4 Sangria, based on Android.

Expansion: none.


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