Amazon’s $50 Tablet

The Amazon ad for its new $50 Fire tablet says it has the power and features you want for the price of a tank of gas. After testing the $50 Fire, experts at Consumer Reports say there’s not much it won’t do, but there’s plenty it won’t do well.

Compared with the popular Apple iPad Mini 4 that starts at $400, the Fire took five times as long to load a page full of text and graphics. And there’s a visible difference in the display quality.

Consumer Reports also says the sound isn’t great because it has only one speaker and it’s on the back. If you put the tablet on a flat surface or against something soft, it is going to sound muffled. So it’s not the kind of tablet for listening to music.

What would you use the Fire for? It’s fine for streaming a movie — although better for content than for quality — and for simple gaming, email, and social media. It would also make a pretty good kids’ tablet.

As with other Amazon tablets, the Fire limits you to buying apps in the Amazon app store, which offers about 300,000 options. That sounds like a lot, but it’s actually much fewer than what’s available from either Apple or Google.

The Fire does have a wider viewing angle than most other inexpensive tablets. And it has a decent eight-hour battery life. Some tablets that size have less than six. Consumer Reports says although Amazon’s $50 tablet isn’t the best it has tested, the Fire is comparable to some tablets that are twice the price.

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