If you want a small cheap tablet to stream media and read e-books, the Fire 7 Tablet is a good choice

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/09/16/if-you-want-a-small-cheap-tabl.html


How hard is it to make it a normal Android device?


One complaint regarding Amazon Fire and it’s a big one, the OS is complete shit. Mine requires a hard start weekly, and it has zero apps that you’d actually want to use. $49.99 US is a good deal, but remember you’re NOT getting an OS like an Android has, it’s more like Windows 95, and that’s being polite…


Branding and control. These things can be really cheap because they’re extremely low-end and locked into Amazon’s ecosystem. A higher-end tablet whose primary function is not being an ad for Amazon would cost much more - at which point most people in the US ie. Apple Land would just get an iPad.

I’d love a reasonably cheap but decently capable Android tablet but alas, “reasonably cheap” and “decently capable” don’t seem to go together in this particular field.


That sucks, as I’ve been using a dinky, de-commissioned Android dedicated mainly to streaming television while I work. I would have liked a bigger screen.


I bought one to use as a wireless monitor to sit on my desk and display my chat window. It was worth it for that but I wouldn’t use it for anything else

1 Like

Last year, I bought one and found some instructions online to add the Google Play Store and therefore access to most Android apps. Now I never use it. When updating apps, I had to keep track of whether each was the Amazon version or the Google version to keep it from complaining. Good for a workaround, but not as a steady diet.

As Mark wrote, the Fire is a little heavy, its UI is a little unusual, and compared to better tablets, it’s noticeably slower. I would choose it over a stock Kindle reader for all of its entertainment options, and if all you can afford is $50, it might be your best bet. For anyone who can remember the state of computing 20 years ago, it’s a small miracle to get so much power, purely devoted to amusement, so cheaply.

Me, I’m too fussy, but I’m very happy with a $150 8-inch Samsung Tab A (2017 model), which is downright peppy, runs the Kindle app (and everything else) just fine, and charges with USB-C.


I have both a 7" and a 8" HD Amazon Tablet. I like the 8" HD a lot more, but that’s because screen size and resolution; but both are fairly good from a hardware perspective. Mine are pretty solid in terms of stability.

But it isn’t a general purpose tablet. It’s sole function in life is to let you interface with your Amazon account. It is limited to the Amazon Appstore. You read Kindle books from Amazon, watch movies from Amazon Prime Video, and listen to music from Amazon Prime Music. The Amazon Appstore is a lot more limited than the Google App Store.

There is a web browser, which works fairly well, although it uses Bing as it’s default search engine. (And it reverts back randomly. Nargh.)

Is it worth $30? If you are an Amazon Prime family, probably. If you’re not in the Amazon ecosystem, then… you’d probably be better off with a real tablet. I mean, you’ll definitely be better off with a real tablet, but at $30 it may be worth buying this too; you’re going to spend at least $200 to get a tablet that works as well.


When my surface 2 died last year, I got a Kindle 7" fir immediate usr whike I decided what next. It helped that it was in sale. A coupke of months later I gave it to my sister.

i bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab A (I think it is) more the size of the Surface 2. I’ve come to use a tablet a lot, so I wanted the larger tablet, still not sure if this was the best choice, but I’m not unhappy with it.

Then I landed in the hospital at the end of March, and wad too weak to hold the Samsung. Amazon had another sale, so I got a Kindle 8" HD. I’ve only had to reboot it once since April. I got the smallest storage model, but added a $ 20 microSD card so I’ll never run out of space.

I do notice how it’s really an extension of Amazon. But I wanted something cheap and small, and it works. I don’t need tp add lots of apps. I do notice how downloafs land in the same place, I had to grab a third party file manager to set up directories and move files into a more orderly system. But beyond a browser, I don’t habe much need, at least for a small tablet.


I wouldn’t mind a cheap tablet but i’d rather find a newish second-hand one that’s actively supported by LineageOS and chuck that on it but leaving out google apps. Apart from a few hickups here and there i’m very pleased with it on my samsung s5.


This is exactly what I got recently to replace an even older tablet. I second the recommendation.
I’m not a tablet superuser by any means, so this slightly out of date android device does quite nicely by me.

I really like my latest-gen Kindle Paperwhite. But I have to wonder how that thing can be $100+, and this thing, which seems like it has higher-priced components, is significantly less expensive.

I guess they figure they can stream you a lot of general Amazon ads on this thing, thus it’s more of a loss-leader than a typical Kindle e-ink device, which is only going to coax you into buying more ebooks on it?

1 Like

Amazon OS and its ecosystem is unusable for me. My last amazon tablet is permanently a big red LED style clock. That’s all it’s really good for without being able for me to install Firefox and VLC.


You can put VLC on the Fire Tablet, also Kodi. Why they exclude Firefox is curious, since they allow it for the Fire TV.

I picked up a Kindle Fire a few years ago (the 2015 model.) As an entry-level tablet, it’s fun. The biggest frustrations are the lack of apps (Amazon’s Appstore is very limited, and several developers of apps I used gave up on supporting their work for Kindle) and the limited space (8 GB is just not enough.) When mine gives up the ghost, I’ll use my dad’s Fire (HD8) as an ereader. But I picked up a refurbished Samsung Tab to use for a general-purpose tablet, because I wanted better apps and an S-pen for artwork.

I would be shocked if there was not a Cyanogenmod build for the Fire devices

In my house our Kindle fire is used for just one thing: the kids playing Goat Simulator during road trips. And it was well with it.

1 Like

Is it rootable?

I know there’s a hack to add the Google Play Store, but I don’t know about root.

They’re a little tricky to jailbreak, particularly the newer ones. With whether you can do so without bricking the thing often tied as much to which version of the OS is installed as which version of the device you have. Installing the Google play store and unlocking regular non/Amazon apps tends to be pretty trivial on everything but the newest models. But that shit’ll disappear eventually if you regularly update the device. Even as cheap as the things can be had its kinda not worth it, non Amazon apps don’t run particularly well on it. And its LOADED with bullshit and an awkward UI.

Maybe. My 2015 fire 7 just became rootable along with the 2017 and 2018 models. But apparently whether it works is a matter of which precise processor/chipset is in your unit, what version of the OS/firmware is installed. And the process doesn’t exactly seem simple, seems to require linux and some coding knowledge. But it seems like everything up to the 8th gen/2018 models its currently possible if you want to do the work.

I have to do some proper digging around and see if there is a simpler approach yet, a lot of the code and console stuff that breaks my brain tends to get packaged into utilities that do the hard parts automagically. I haven’t checked to see if the major one (Root Junky Super Tool) has incorporated this stuff yet. It’s had options for rooting the 5th gen/2015 for a long while, but earlier versions did not work with my device, and it might not support rooting for the 7th and 8th gen. But it will side load the play store, kill ads if possible, and do the other house keeping with a lot less fucking about.