Fire HD 6 is Year’s Most Portable Tablet – First Impressions Review

Fire HD 6 Horizontal

Yesterday the new Fire HD tablets for this year were released, along with the $79 basic Kindle. I posted a first impressions review of the new Kindle yesterday—I’m not at all impressed with the chunky plastic and blocky design, but at least the software is solid because it is basically the exact same as the Kindle Paperwhite.

When it comes to the Fire HD 6, my initial impressions are pretty much the exact opposite. I’m super stoked about the overall size and the hardware features you get for the money. This is an impressive tablet for $99, there’s no doubt about it.

The only downside with Amazon’s tablets is the restrictive software. It’s nothing like a typical Android tablet where you can customize things to your liking. Instead you’re stuck with the same homescreen carousel and soulless black background just like every other Kindle Fire tablet to ever exist. The Amazon appstore is full of outdated apps and never has everything you need, and you can’t get apps from Google because Fire tablets are some of the only Android tablets you’ll find not to support the Play Store.

However, I think the combination of low price and overall features are enough to make people look past the software limitations, especially for people already intrenched in the Amazon ecosystem. The Fire HD 6 is good for Kindle-specific features that aren’t available on some other tablets, such as text-to-speech for Kindle books, Prime ebooks, Immersion Reading, etc. You can use it to stream Amazon videos, and even connect to a TV with a cheap SlimPort adapter and HDMI cable.

The number one thing that jumps out about the Fire HD 6 is the size. The screen on most smaller tablets is 7-inches diagonally. As the name implies, the Fire HD 6 is a 6-inch tablet. One inch may not sound like much, but in reality it’s a huge difference. It makes the Fire HD 6 super easy to hold one-handed. It’s the first true one-handed tablet that I’ve reviewed.

A few cheap 4.3-inch tablets have cropped up here and there over the past few years, but I don’t ever remember hearing about a 6-inch tablet before. That really makes the Fire HD 6 unique.

The smaller size makes the tablet very easy to hold, and it is quite pocketable and easy to take with you everywhere. It also feels very solid and sturdy.

Overall I’m impressed with the Fire HD 6 thus far. I’ll post a full review soon after more testing. I’ll post a video showing the Fire HD 6 in action later today with a comparison between the 7-inch Fire HDX. Subscribe to The eBook Reader Blog to keep updated! The fastest way to get updates on video reviews is to subscribe on YouTube or Google+ because the videos get posted there before I write the articles here.

15 Responses to “Fire HD 6 is Year’s Most Portable Tablet – First Impressions Review”

  1. At that size it becomes difficult to choose between a “phablet” smartphone, such as my 6″ Nokia 1520, and this dedicated Kindle tablet. The former has higher resolution, is a useful phone along with the usual array of apps, and I already carry it everywhere. But the latter has Prime books and video and its ebook reading software is superior to any app version out there. (Especially the Windows Phone 8 app, which is amazingly poor; Amazon must hate Microsoft’s customers.)

    Oh, and the Kindle Fire HD 6 is a whole lot cheaper than smartphones of that size. If I didn’t already have this “phablet” — and a Voyage on order — I’d be very tempted.

    • Indeed, with phablets being so popular I’m surprised Amazon is the first to offer a decent phone-sized tablet. This could become a popular idea quickly…

  2. Thanks for this.

    I’ve just finished unboxing mine. I agree, the form factor is darned cute and very practical.

    How did you find the performance? It felt a little laggy compared to the HDX, but that may be because it was still configuring stuff

    • So far it’s been running pretty smooth for me. Sometimes images for icons aren’t showing up right, though. The last time I went to the audiobook section only half the covers were showing, but earlier in the day all of them were there.

  3. Tempting. I haven’t seen your video review yet but I’m really interested in text to speech. Since Sony closed its store I mostly listen to audiobooks. I signed up for Kindle Unlimited to try Whispersync and I really like it. Too few books with it on KU, however. I don’t want to own audiobooks so if TTS works well, it might be a good addition to borrowing from the library. How do instant video and HBOGo work on it? My son might be interested. I had thought about getting him an HDX.

    • I’ll demo text to speech in the video review for the Fire HD. I won’t be able to comment on video services, however, because I don’t use them. But I imagine Amazon’s videos work better than on other non-Amazon devices given the exclusive features.

  4. I really like the new HD 6. I’ve had just about every ereader/tablet out there, and prefer android. while kindle isn’t a real android I’ve gotten 3rd party apps on my kindles – including the HD 6 – from I began my tablet addiction with Nooks. I have at least 1000 Nook books. so through getjar I have the Nook app on all of my kindle fires.

  5. Mary — Thanks for the getjar tip. I have books from Kobo, B&N, and Amazon and it is nice to hear that there is a way of getting the Nook App on the Amazon Fire tablets.

    At $99 this is a awesome tablet for gifting. I will probably pick one up for my Mom for X-mas.

    The 6″ form factor is also a great idea.

  6. perhaps getjar has apps for your kobo etc!

  7. just checked – kobo is a free app at getjar!

  8. you can also go to the goodereader website and download their store app. recommend Puffin web browser because you can look at flash videos through it if you want.

  9. Hi!

    Can the Fire HD 6 connect to the tv or monitor using a cable? And how does it work? Is it a slimport to HDMI adapter? Can’t find one online. Any help please xxx

  10. can u text on a fire hd 6