Amazon Devices Explained: Which you should and shouldn't buy
Amazon offers a plethora of own-brand products and services. Some are great value, some should be avoided. We'll cover them all here.
Amazon has its range of Echo smart speakers and smart displays, more Fire Tablets than you can shake a stick at and, speaking of sticks, a range of tech designed to make your TV even smarter in the form of the Fire TV Stick and Cube. It also recently launched a range of Amazon Fire TVs to consider furnishing your living room.
It also owns some devices you might not realise. Blink and Ring home security gear is all Amazon-owned, as is eero, a range of home Wi-Fi solutions.
In this explainer, we'll cover all the key products across the ranges and recommend which you should consider buying depending on your needs, and which to avoid.
I've been using and reviewing Amazon's own-brand products since the first Fire Tablets came out in 2011. Amazon products are generally good, with some being excellent for the price. When these devices go on sale on special sale days like Prime Day or Black Friday, they represent some of the best bang-for-buck electronics you can buy.
Fire TV Stick and Cube
The Fire TV Stick is popular for a reason. Smart TVs are ok, but devices like the Fire Stick offer a slicker experience than most. You also get a better (and better supported) selection of apps, and Fire TV Sticks also work well with Amazon Echo speakers, meaning you can get great TV audio without splashing out on a soundbar. I recommend getting the top-of-the-range Fire TV Stick 4K Max if you have a 4K TV or the basic Fire TV Stick if you have an HD TV. Get both with the TV controller so you don't have to switch to your TV's remote control to change volume or other settings.
The Fire TV Cube is also a smart speaker. Still, I'd recommend getting a Fire Stick and an Echo speaker for the extra price, which is cheaper and more versatile unless you want the extra audio and video enhancements the TV Cube provides.
Amazon Fire Tablet Guide
Things to be aware of are that the Fire Tablets have Amazon's own app store and custom Android interface. This is not as slick as stock Google Android or the iPadOS so be prepared for some annoyances. Saying that if you want a tablet to keep the kids quiet or predominantly for video streaming and social media/web browsing, then they are very hard to beat on price. Try and spend a little extra and go for the Amazon Fire HD 8 or 10 rather than the underpowered Fire 7 tablet.
Fire tablets usually come with ads that pop up on the lock screen or without ads for an extra fee.
There are specific kids' tablets that come at a slight premium. You get a tantrum-proof case covering the tablet and a 2-year free replacement warranty regardless of how it broke, providing peace of mind. You also get one year of Amazon Kids+, which gives access to thousands of books, apps and games. In the past, I've recommended avoiding these and getting the normal tablet with a third-party case. However, in recent years, Amazon has made these more reasonably priced, so they're great tablets for kids.
2. Amazon Fire HD 10 | 10.1", 1080p Full HD, 64 GB, Black - with Ads
3. Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids | for ages 3–7 | 10.1", 1080p Full HD, 32 GB | Sky Blue Kid-Proof Case
3. Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids tablet | 8-inch | Ages 3–7 | Kid-Proof Case | 32 GB | Red Kid-Proof Case
4. Amazon Fire Max 11 | 11-inch display | Octa-core processor | 4 GB RAM | 14-hr battery life | 64 GB | Grey |
WITHOUT ADS: £259.99 | Check current price on Amazon
WITH ADS: £249.99 | Check current price on Amazon
Check out all Amazon Amazon Fire tablet deals right here.
Kindle e-book readers haven't changed much since Amazon first launched in 2007. Constant small, iterative improvements do add up, though, and the latest Kindles offer sharp text that's easy on the eyes.
There are two main types of Kindle, the bog-standard version and the Paperwhite. Both have 300PPI for sharp text and 16GB of storage. They also have backlights so you can read in the dark, but the Paperwhite has more which means it can be brighter but is also more uniform, so there aren't many differences in screen brightness. The Paperwhite is slightly larger at 6.8 inches versus the 6-inch Kindle. The basic Kindle offers most of the features and performance of the Paperwhite for £60 less, making it the best-value Kindle.
You can get the same Kindles for kid versions, including a cover, over 1000 books and a 2-year replacement guarantee.
Finally, there's the Kindle Scribe. This is a cross between a notepad and an e-reader with a 10.2-inch screen. You can draw, write, convert messy handwriting into text, and email your notes. It's lovely and slick, but it's a luxury at almost £500 RRP.
1. Kindle (2022 release) | The lightest and most compact Kindle, now with a 6", 300 ppi high-resolution display and double the storage | With ads | Black
2. Kindle Paperwhite | 16 GB, now with a 6.8" display and adjustable warm light | With ads | Black
3. Kindle Kids (2022 release) | Includes a cover, access to over a thousand books and a 2-year worry-free guarantee, Space Whale
4. Kindle Scribe (2022 release) Essentials Bundle including Kindle - 64GB, Premium Pen, Black, Amazon Fabric Folio Cover with Magnetic Attach and Power Adapter
Echo Speaker Guide
The Amazon Echo has changed how we interact with tech and listen to podcasts and music. The newer Echo Show smart displays add a screen to the mix, making them brilliant kitchen companions.
The Echo speakers come in a few flavours. The Echo Studio is the big one, with punchy sound and some serious audio tech inside supporting hi-res audio. It also works well with Fire TVs so that you can cut out the weedy speaks most flat-screens have and enjoy movies even more. All of this comes at a hefty price, £219.99 to be exact.
In the middle of the pack is the Echo. This ball-like speaker is surprisingly capable and at £109.99, offers the best bang for your buck.
Amazon has two cheap Echo speakers to consider. The Echo Dot is the better of the two in terms of sound, but the new Echo Pop is surprisingly decent. I'd spend the extra £4 and opt for the Dot in this case. It makes for a great kid's bedroom speaker. You can get Echo Dot speakers with cute designs for kids for a little extra.
1. Echo (4th generation, 2020 release) | Premium sound Wi-Fi and Bluetooth smart speaker with Dolby, smart home hub and Alexa | Charcoal
2. Echo Dot (5th generation, 2022 release) | Bigger vibrant sound Wi-Fi and Bluetooth smart speaker with Alexa | Charcoal
Basic Design: £54.99 | Check current price on Amazon
Dragon Design: £64.99 | Check current price on Amazon
With Clock: £64.99 | Check current price on Amazon
3. Echo Studio | Amazon's best-sounding Wi-Fi and Bluetooth smart speaker | Dolby Atmos, spatial audio, smart home hub and Alexa | Charcoal
4. Echo Pop | Full sound compact Wi-Fi and Bluetooth smart speaker with Alexa | Charcoal
Check out all Amazon Echo speaker deals right here
Echo Show Guide
The Echo Show is basically an Echo speaker attached to a tablet. They come in a range of sizes to suit most spaces but have found a home in many kitchens thanks to the ability to request and view recipes while your hands are covered in food. They also work really well with most smart home tech, like video doorbells and double as a lovely photo gallery. There are four sizes: the giant 15.6-inch Echo Show 15, the 10-inch Echo Show 10, the Echo Show 8 and the diddy Echo Show 5.
The Show 15 is designed to be wall mounted (but doesn't have to be) and also functions more like a TV as it has a Fire TV built-in. The others are free-standing and come with basic access to apps. Recent models (and the ones on sale today) also have cameras so you can use them for video calls.