Amazon Kindle Fire HD 6 and 7: Best Cheap Tablets Yet

Amazon is out to prove that "cheap" isn't a dirty word when it comes to tablets. The new Kindle Fire 6 and 7 are designed to be twice as durable and reliable as the iPad mini and yet they cost just $99 and $139 respectively. They also sport HD displays, beefy audio and quad-core processors -- all in your choice of five fun colors. And with the new Fire OS, you can share books, movies and other content with the family.

I went hands-on with the Kindle Fire 6 and 7, which give off a much more premium vibe than I expected for the price.

Equipped with Gorilla Glass screens and very sturdy plastic composite backs, the Fire HD 6 and HD 7 are built to withstand a lot more abuse than your typical budget slate. I watched as machines twisted and rolled these devices around without seeing any damage. You should be able to drop the tablets from up to a meter without worrying about breakage. 

MORE: Best Tablets 2014

Amazon also set out to make value-priced tablets that are fast. In a gaming demo versus the pricier Samsung Tab 4, the Kindle HD's 1.5-GHz quad-core MediaTek processor delivered frame rates in the 40 to 50 fps range, versus a sluggish 15 fps for the Samsung.

The displays are pretty sweet, too. The HD 6 and HD 7 both sport 1280 x 800-pixel screens with vibrant hues and wider viewing angles than your typical cheapo tablet. Amazon packs the two devices with beefy audio too, blowing away a Samsung slate in a quick demo.

With Fire OS 4.0, the new Kindle Fires introduce a couple of compelling features that parents will appreciate. Family Library lets you share content with up to 2 adults and 4 children, including Amazon Instant Video. I also like the new profiles option, which lets you unlock the device to specific profiles, complete with personalized carousels of apps and content.

The Kindle Fire HD 6 and 7 come with a 2-MP camera on the back and VGA camera up front for selfies and video chats. Amazon claims that the tablets should supply 8 hours of battery life.

The one thing I don't love about the new Kindles is the 8GB of included storage. Although you can keep plenty of content in the cloud, including unlimited photos, that's not a lot of room for apps. Fortunately, you can step up to 16GB for $20 more.

Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.