New Kindle Fire HD 8 and HD 8 Plus Tablets

Hey Everyone -

To this point, I’m running my dashboards on an iPad Air 2 and an iPad mini 3. Both are devices that I had already. I’ve been looking to pick up another iPad mini 3 for another room, but folks on Marketplace and eBay are just bat-crap silly with how much their asking for used and refurb iPads right now.

So, I’m looking at the new Fire HD 8, HD 8+, or even the HD 10. It’s been ages since I used an android based tablet, as my house is mainly Apple, so thought I might pose a few questions to this forum since my main use case will be SharpTools dashboards over Hubitat.

  1. The new HD 8 and HD 8 Plus - is the primary difference the 8+ has another GB of RAM (3GB instead of 2GB)? Is the 8+ worth the extra $20?

  2. I don’t need/want any advertisement BS or screensavers nonsense … so I’m guessing I need to order the option “without special offers” either when I order, or I think this can be removed as an upgrade after?

  3. Are these most recent 8" and 10" Fire tablets open enough where I can either access the apps needed, or access/sideload .APK’s from some other source? Seems like a lot of folks use that Fully Kiosk Browser, is that available from the standard Amazon Fire store?

  4. I do like the larger screen size of my iPad Air 2, as opposed to my mini 3 … what are most folks using on their walls? The larger screens? I’m debating the 8 vs 10.

I’d prefer to keep things all iPads, but as I mentioned, the prices folks want for used iPad minis (or any iPad for that matter) is just silliness right now.

Thanks for your thoughts!

I was in a similar situation. My house is mostly Apple stuff. Never had an Android phone or tablet. But you’re right - used/refurb’d iPads are too expensive if you want multiple dashboards around your house. Plus, I like the wall mount frames (etsy) available for Fire tablets better than those for iPads. They just look cleaner. So I bought one of the new (10th gen) Fire HD 8 tablets.

  1. If you’re just going to use it as a Sharptools dashboard, I’m not sure the + is necessary. At least I haven’t seen a need for the extra RAM yet.

  2. I didn’t want any ads either, but I bought the one with ads, figuring I could run the utility (can’t remember the name at the moment), that gets rid of the ads for you. But, it turns out you need a Windows PC to run that utility, which I don’t have. So I just called Amazon’s support line, told them I’ve been a Prime customer for years now, and wouldn’t it be a nice gesture if they waived the $15 fee to get rid of the ads on my shiny new tablet, which they did. I would say that’s nice of them, but coming from the Apple ecosystem where you never see stuff like that in the first place, I’d say it was very reasonable of them.

  3. I purchased and downloaded the Fully Kiosk Browser and got it running w/o problems. There are some useful videos (check on SimplySmart123’s youtube video) that make the setup quite easy.

  4. I debated screen size too. But the decision was made for me (the Architectural/Design Committee I am married to). Besides, the 10" tablet has the same number of pixels as the 8". I read elsewhere that images don’t look as sharp on the 10" tablet. The 8" seems like a nice size - doesn’t take up too much room on the wall and you can fit a lot of stuff on the dashboard.

One thing about FKB I wasn’t real comfortable with is giving it permission to use the camera, mic and phone (needed if you want it to be motion activated, which is kinda cool). But I did it anyway. If anyone has info about security issues, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

If you’re using the Fire just for Sharptools, I think once you get one setup you won’t really notice a problem having a mix of iPads and Fire tablets. I wouldn’t buy one for general use. They don’t have the nice solid feel of an iPad. But for hanging on the wall - they’re great.

2 Likes

@Jesse_Taylor, as @kbhousen mentioned, you can download Fire OS version APK of the Fully Kiosk Browser from their website directly.
https://www.fully-kiosk.com/en/#download-box

Here are the videos @Justin_Newbury (SimplySmart123) put together, and many, like @kbhousen, have found them helpful and easy to follow. :grinning:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLitU_VbPTiVyab7dbG-fg8MRP7Ng_gVpO

I have both 10" and 8", and 10" one is my main dashboard mounted on the wall. Have the motion activated in FKB as well, so the screen turns on when walk by. I think 10" is slightly better for looking stuff from distance, but the main reason I put 10" one on the wall was just because it performs better than the 8" model (5th gen) I have.

And thanks @kbhousen, that’s great summary.

1 Like

Thank you for the comments, very helpful!

Follow up question, how do these Fire HD 8 tablets wake up? I too would be a little hesitant about the camera access and letting FKB function in that walk up/motion method. Can one not just tap the screen and have it open/wake up? Does it have a lock screen and require an input, maybe like a 4-digit pin (similar to default on an iPad)? My Air 2 and mini 3 iPads have fingerprint readers and open up with just a press of the finger.

I’d be fine with no lock screen as an option, if the Fire HD 8 will wake up with a touch of the screen.

Thanks!

Thank you James for the additional thoughts as well!

Yes, you can leave the motion activation off and just tap the screen to wake it. You can also have a security PIN in you want.

2 Likes

We’re an all Apple household, but the features of Fully were too good to pass up. Even after looking into Jamf for device management and Kiosk Pro, it was coming up short. No device control, no screen saver, not even dimming/screen off at night.

Because I didn’t like the thick bezels of the Fire line, I ended up with a Tab A 10.1 (2019) and am very happy with the choice. Cost a little more than a Fire without adds, but it’s been great so far.

Also, Android takes some getting used to, but the hackabilty is perfect for this use case.

3 Likes

Wow, this topic was made for me. Also buying a Fire HD 8+ to use instead of my iPad air2. I’m going with the plus and may add the charging stand later instead of the wall mount. As for the ads, one of the videos on SimplySmart123 shows how to remove them. It does require attaching to a PC but I’ve got that covered. I’ll be interested to hear how it goes, and I’ll share my experience as well (when it gets here in hopefully only a week).

2 Likes

Hi all I’m using a Huawei Mediapad T5 10 Inch works perfectly for wall mounting and fully kiosk on there.

3 Likes

My wife and I picked up a few Fire HD 8+ tablets to replace our kids’ aging tablets. From a quick test, they seem like nice devices that will be a great fit for SharpTools.io dashboards.

The wireless charging dock that’s compatible with the Fire HD 8+ seems like it would make for an excellent desk/counter top device for viewing dashboards.

I haven’t had a chance to really play with it yet, so I don’t have strong impressions. It seems like a nice performance upgrade over the older 2015/2016 Fire HD 8 models. It’s still not the fastest device, but it’s a great bang for the buck. Compared to a modern phone which is silky smooth, the HD 8+ still has a bit of hesitation when changing between complex dashboards. Once a dashboard is loaded, it works quite well and the overall usage on a dashboard is about what I expected from a ~$100 device.

2 Likes

Just saw the new Fire HD 8+, (as well as the regular Fire HD 8) on sale today.:drooling_face:

FKB Needs Permissions for the camera to determine if there is motion in front of it, and possibly the light level in the room.

With motion sensing, the backlight can timeout quicker, saving its lifetime, and only come on when something moves in front of it.

Tablets are not really distance watching devices like TV’s are, so running the backlight permanently, or even for minutes at a time with no one standing there, or at super brightness when the room light level is low wouldnt make sense.

I for one would like an 8 inch tablet at high resolution so it looks dynamite from 2-8 feet away. Not a 10 inch tablet, backlight on permanently, so I can read it 20 feet from across the room and see my tiny little ring camera all the time.

Saving the backlight life for old boneyard/ebay tablets repurposed as smart home controllers will save a lot of grief and money in the long run.

1 Like