======= Summary =======
The Amazon Fire HD 8 is a great tablet for the price. With its 8" 720P HD display, dual Dolby Atmos speakers, 32GB of internal storage, and a quad-core processor, the Fire HD 8 offers decent performance, great battery life, and a good viewing experience.
======= My Impressions - Hardware =======
I like the design of the Fire HD 8. It's not premium nor made of any fancy materials but it's sturdy, light, and has good weight distribution. It's comfortable to hold and use and easy to carry around. Even with the gigantic and rubbery Kid-Proof case wrapped around the tablet, the weight is still manageable and still ergonomic. The biggest testament to my evaluation is seeing how easily my 3-year-old toddler can hold and use the tablet. She has no trouble carrying it around and playing the next Youtube video.
The Kid-Proof case is really great. My little girl dropped it several times already on both hard and soft surfaces and there's been no damage at all to the Fire HD 8. The case is soft and rubbery and easy to clean up. I really like that.
The 8" 720P screen is pretty good. 720P resolution on an 8" screen still offers good sharpness and detail and I have no complaints. I found the auto-brightness to be kind of inaccurate and slow to adjust. It dimmed the content too much under normal lighting conditions. So I had it changed to Manual mode and set it at around 70% for indoor use.
The sound from the dual Dolby Atmos speakers is nice, loud, and clear. It's definitely better than most smartphone speaker setups, even the flagships.
32GB of internal storage is more than enough for my household and I appreciate the expandability of storage via the microSD slot. I haven't popped in a microSD card yet but it's good to know it's there for when it's needed.
The 2MP camera is horrible. It's slow and the pictures it takes are very grainy and there is a great loss of color and detail. I guess it's better than not having any sort of cameras but I wish Amazon had included at least a 8-MP camera.
The Fire HD 8 comes with a Mediatek MT8163 quad-core chipset and it is on the slow side, especially if one compares the performance to modern flagship smartphones from within the past couple of years. App installations slow down the system and opening too many apps will introduce lag. This is no problem for my toddler who only likes to watch kids' videos on the Fire HD 8 but for myself and my wife, the performance can be frustrating at times.
For the price I paid for the Fire HD 8, however, I'm content and satisfied with the hardware aspects of the tablet. The Fire HD 8 fulfills my family's and my toddler's needs completely.
======= My Impressions - Software =======
Being a long-time Android user, I did not like Amazon's FireOS very much. So from Day One, I sideloaded the necessary Google apps into the Fire HD 8 to hide FireOS and convert it into an Android setup that I'm used to. I'm currently using Novalauncher as my home screen launcher and I have installed many of my Android apps into the Fire HD 8 as well. I get app updates directly from the Google Play store.
Typing is done through the Google Gboard keyboard and I also have Google Assistant.
After this "conversion," I find the Fire HD 8 to be highly more enjoyable. A downside to this "conversion" is reduced system performance after the tablet has been on for a few days. In order to solve this performance loss, I installed a couple of apps to bring the fluid performance level back - "Cache Cleaner" by Frozen Developers and "Memory Booster - RAM Optimizer" by AIO Software Technology CO. The Fire HD 8 is now always fast and performant and I no longer need to reboot the tablet every few days.
In order to obtain software updates, I still have to go through FireOS's Settings app. I've received a couple of OS updates since I purchased the Fire HD 8 back in November of 2017. These updates were seamless and non-disruptive. I'm still disappointed at Amazon, however, that the Fire HD 8 is still on Android Lollipop (5.1). I would've expected at least Android Nougat.
Again, for the price I paid for the Fire HD 8, I'm satisfied and content for what I get hard- and software-wise. I'm just grateful that I can add Google services and apps to the Fire HD 8 without much hassle.
======= So, is it any good? =======
Definitely. The Fire HD 8 (2017) offers great value for not a lot of money. If one is purchasing this for a child in the family (like I did), then it is an especially fantastic and safe choice. The tablet is easy to use, has decent hardware, and comes preloaded with kids- and family-friendly apps from Amazon. It's a good buy.