Ryfun's Bonus Rant: Tablet Talk

I’ve been remiss in getting my column out the last couple of weeks, so I figured I throw in a bonus one today. This one isn’t a major bombshell or anything. It’s tech talk. It’s about tablets.

Amazon has finally done it.

Most of you know how attached I am to my tablets. My iPad Pro goes with me just about everywhere I go, and my Surface Pro is indispensable at work. When I host trivia contests, I use both simultaneously. Both of them help me do just about anything I need to do.

But a few years ago, I was finding myself with a problem: in the evenings I like to read before I go to bed, but a lot of days my iPad would barely have the juice to do anything, because I’d used it so much during the day. Plus, I'd come to rely on my iPad for so much all day every day, I worried I wouldn't have any way to do some of my work if my iPad was ever sent out for repair or if it just broke. One day I got a steal on a Fire HD10 tablet from Amazon. Amazon’s Fire tablets are already inexpensive, but this one was almost 70% off.

I thought the cheaper tablet would be a perfect backup for those times the iPad is just too dead to do tings I needed to do. I got the Fire and immediately downloaded all the productivity software I thought I’d need in the event that I had to use it to replace my iPad.

What I found after a few days’ test spin was that the Fire HD10 was sluggish and lethargic, like me on a Sunday morning. If you wanted to read a book on it, it was fine. If you wanted to watch a movie on it, the screen wasn’t bad. But anything that falls under the category of “productivity”? Not only no, but hell no.

“That’s what I get for buying a cheapo tablet,” I thought, and I kept it in back backpack in case I got desperate.

Then the 2019 model came out. I got a similar deal on it, almost 70% off, and, well, it was advertised as being “30% Faster!” than the previous model. I thought, what the heck? A deal like that? I’ll try it out.

If the shade of blue on the back hadn’t been slightly different, I wouldn’t have thought it was a different tablet at all. It was just as hopeless and pathetic as the last one.

So needless to say, when I saw there was a 2021 version of the Fire HD10 a couple of months ago, I immediately thought, if fool me once is shame on you and fool me twice is shame on me, what’s fool me thrice? I decided to leave it alone and give up on the Fire tablet.

Then two things happened.

The first was that I noticed that in addition to the latest model fo the Fire HD10, they’d added an HD10 Plus model. Looking at the specs, the Plus seems identical except for a rubberized exterior and one more gig of RAM than the standard HD10, meaning it has 4 gb of RAM instead of 3. Once Prime Day rolled around, I couldn’t stand it anymore and like Stacey Abrams’s lawn chair, I buckled.

The deal was nearly half off, not quite as good as the previous deals, but I was interested in this tablet Amazon was positioning as something of a productivity machine. In fact, unlike the previous models I had this one came with Office pre-loaded. The other models I had could barely run Office.

After using it for a couple of weeks, I have to say that Amazon has finally made a tablet that can capably back up my iPad in a pinch. It doesn’t have nearly the delays, lags and general sluggishness the previous models have had. It really seems like a genuine productivity machine. It’s a tad more expensive than the standard HD10, but it’s well worth the price.

One note, though. Amazon famously has those tablets locked into their app store. You can get around this without jailbreaking the device by sideloading the Google Play store onto the device. There are a number of YouTube videos that tell you how to do it. It’s easy and it gives you access to everything you’ll want to put on the tablet without voiding the warranty.

Now, the Fire will probably never replace my 12.9” iPad Pro as a day-to-day tablet, because I’m pretty demanding, but for the price, the Fire HD10 Plus is a terrific tablet.

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