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Fire HD 10 Plus (2021) review: Amazon’s top budget tablet upgraded | Amazon

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Amazon’s top 10in Fire OS tablet has had a makeover and now has faster performance, without costing iPad money.

The 2021 Fire HD 10 comes in either a standard version costing £150/US$150 or a “Plus” version, as tested here, costing £180/US$180, with a few more bells and whistles.

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The tablet has a 10.1in LCD touchscreen that is slightly brighter than its predecessor and is designed for movie-watching with its widescreen ratio, compared with the iPad’s squarer screen. The new Fire HD 10 adopts the slimmed-down and rounded aesthetic introduced to the 8in Fire HD 8 last year, which makes it look significantly more modern, and is 36g lighter than the model it replaces.

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus review
The Fire HD 10’s body is hard plastic while the HD 10 Plus (shown here) is made of soft-touch slate-grey plastic, which feels nicer but picks up fingerprints and smudges easily. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The screen is good for the money: fairly sharp, with good viewing angles, and bright enough indoors, though it struggles in direct sunlight. The pair of top-mounted speakers are reasonable for watching movies or getting answers from Amazon’s integrated Alexa voice assistant. A 2-megapixel webcam above the screen is reasonable for video calling in good light too.

Specifications

  • Screen: 10.1in 1920×1200 LCD (224ppi)

  • Processor: 2GHz octa-core

  • RAM: 4GB

  • Storage: 32 or 64GB plus microSD card slot

  • Operating system: Fire OS 7 based on Android 9

  • Camera: 2MP front-facing, 5MP rear cameras

  • Connectivity: Wifi 5, Bluetooth 5, 3.5mm headphones, USB-C, Qi wireless charging

  • Dimensions: 247 x 166 x 9.2 mm

  • Weight: 468g

Performance

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus review
All the ports and buttons are in the right side of the tablet, while the microSD card slot for adding more storage space is in the bottom edge. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Fire tablets are typically fast enough, but won’t beat more expensive rivals for raw performance. The Fire HD 10 Plus is no exception. It has the same processor as the regular Fire HD 10, but with 1GB more of RAM for a total of 4GB. That’s twice the amount of the previous-generation machine, which significantly improves multitasking. A dedicated game mode automatically optimises the tablet for games, turning off hands-free Alexa and other background tasks when playing.

Battery life is very good. The tablet will last a couple of days with mixed use or more than 12 hours streaming video over wifi, according to my testing – but of course, playing graphically intensive games significantly decreases battery life. The tablet charges really slowly, taking at least four hours with the included 9W power adaptor. Using a 15W charger shaved 30 minutes off that time, whether wired or wireless for the Plus model.

Sustainability

Amazon does not provide an expected lifespan of the battery in the tablet. Batteries in similar products typically last for at least 500 full-charge cycles while maintaining at least 80% of their original capacity. The Fire HD 10 and HD 10 Plus are generally repairable. They contain 28% post-consumer recycled plastic. The company offers trade-in and recycling schemes and publishes information on its various sustainability efforts.

Fire OS 7

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus review
No mainstream web browsers are available in the Fire OS app store, leaving Amazon’s Silk browser the main choice – which means you have to sync your bookmarks from Chrome using an extension. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The new tablet runs the same Fire OS 7.3 as the previous version and the Fire HD 8, which is based on Android 9 but lacks Google’s services and the Play store, instead relying on Amazon’s App Store and services. Amazon typically supports its tablets for longer than low-cost Android rivals, with at least several years of software and security updates.

The interface is fairly simple, with a traditional home screen of apps flanked by pages called “For You”, featuring app and content suggestions, and “Library”, listing things you own such as Kindle books, games, movies and other bits. The search bar at the top takes you to results from the web, Amazon’s shop and your content, emails and other bits.

Amazon’s App Store has most of the media consumption apps you’re likely to want in the UK, including Spotify, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Netflix, Disney+ and Sky Go, but BT Sport, Google’s various apps such as YouTube, Chrome and Maps, and Apple’s Music and TV are a no-go. Zoom, Skype and Alexa are available for video calling, while the store features a fairly large range of games, even if many of them are rubbish. Note that Fortnite is not available for Fire tablets, even through the Android Epic Games store.

You need an Amazon account to use the tablet, plus a Prime subscription giving access to Prime Video to really make the most of it.

Observations

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus review
‘Show mode’ allows you to turn the tablet into an Echo Show-like Alexa smart display, either manually or automatically when placed into an optional charging dock (which isn’t currently available in the UK). Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
  • There’s a new smart-home button in the bottom left of the navigation bar that gives you instant access to devices such as lights and speakers you’ve set up with Alexa.

  • There’s a little flex in the body and the screen when pressed too hard, but the tablet feels robust.

  • The lack of popular password managers makes logging into apps and services extremely tedious if you rely on one that isn’t available in the Amazon app store.

Price

The Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus starts at £179.99/US$179.99 with 32GB of storage, which comes with ads on the lockscreen. Removing the ads costs an extra £10/US$15.

The regular Fire HD 10 costs £149.99/US$149.99 with 32GB of storage.

For comparison, Amazon’s Fire 7 costs £49.99, Fire HD 8 costs £89.99 and Apple’s 10.2in iPad costs £329.

Verdict

The 2021 Fire HD 10’s revamped design and reasonable performance have done just enough to keep Amazon at the top of the budget tablet pile.

There are very few competitors that offer the level of software support Amazon does for Android tablets at this low cost. The screen is pretty big and crisp, the speakers are fairly good, plus long battery life makes it an excellent lower-cost media consumption tablet as long as you’re happy to swim in Amazon’s ecosystem without access to Google or Apple’s apps.

The Fire HD 10 Plus version adds a soft-touch finish, wireless charging and 1GB more RAM, none of which are really required for a tablet like this and so I would recommend saving the extra £30/US$30 with the standard model. Watch out for deals too as Amazon frequently offers deep discounts on its Fire tablet range.

It won’t beat an iPad, Fire OS has a more limited selection of apps and games, and it is thoroughly undercut by its smaller £90 Fire HD 8 sibling, but the Fire HD 10 is great if you want a bigger screen for watching TV.

Pros: good screen, good speakers, great battery life, microSD card slot, USB-C charging, headphones socket, reasonable performance for the money, Alexa integration, wireless charging (Plus version only).

Cons: cameras aren’t great, slow charging, no Google Play or Apple apps, some apps missing from Amazon App Store, no Fortnite, requires Amazon Prime subscription to make the most of it, significantly undercut by Fire HD 8.

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus review
The Fire HD 10 is built for watching movies and TV shows, either from Amazon’s Prime Video or one of the many streaming services available through the app store. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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Elon Musk sells Tesla shares worth $6.9bn as Twitter trial looms | Elon Musk

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Elon Musk has sold $6.9bn (£5.7bn) worth of shares in Tesla after admitting that he could need the funds if he loses a legal battle with Twitter and is forced to buy the social media platform.

The Tesla CEO walked away from a $44bn deal to buy Twitter in July but the company has launched a lawsuit demanding that he complete the deal. A trial will take place in Delaware in October.

“In the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close *and* some equity partners don’t come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock,” Musk said in a tweet late on Tuesday.

In other comments on Twitter on Tuesday, Musk said “yes” when asked if he was finished selling Tesla stock. He also said he would buy Tesla stock again if the Twitter deal does not close.

Musk has committed more than $30bn of his own money to the financing of the deal, with more than $7bn of that total provided by a coterie of associates including tech tycoon Larry Ellison, the Qatar state investment fund and the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.

Musk, the world’s richest person, sold $8.5bn worth of Tesla shares in April and had said at the time there were no further sales planned. But since then, legal experts had suggested that if Musk is forced to complete the acquisition or settle the dispute with a stiff penalty, he was likely to sell more Tesla shares.

Last week Musk launched a countersuit against Twitter, accusing the platform of deliberately miscounting the number of spam accounts on the platform. Twitter has consistently stated that the number of spam accounts on its service is less than 5% of its user base, which currently stands at just under 238 million. Legal experts have said that Musk will find it hard to convince a judge that Twitter’s spam issue represents a “company material adverse effect” that substantially alters the company’s value – and therefore voids the deal.

Musk sold about 7.92m Tesla shares between 5 August and 9 August, according to multiple filings. He now owns 155m Tesla shares or just under 15% of the electric carmaker.

The latest sales bring total Tesla stock sales by Musk to about $32bn in less than one year. However, Musk remains comfortably ahead of Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest man with an estimated $250bn fortune, according to the Bloomberg billionaires index.

Tesla shares have risen nearly 15% since the automaker reported better-than-expected earnings on 20 July, also helped by the Biden administration’s climate bill that, if passed, would lift the cap on tax credits for electric vehicles.

Musk also teased on Tuesday that he could start his own social media platform. When asked by a Twitter user if he had thought about creating his own platform if the deal didn’t close, he replied: “X.com”.

With Reuters



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Iran reveals use of cryptocurrency to pay for imports • The Register

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Iran has announced it used cryptocurrency to pay for imports, raising the prospect that the nation is using digital assets to evade sanctions.

Trade minister Alireza Peyman Pak revealed the transaction with the tweet below, which translates as “This week, the first official import order was successfully placed with cryptocurrency worth ten million dollars. By the end of September, the use of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts will be widespread in foreign trade with target countries.”

It is unclear what Peman Pak referred to with his mention of widespread use of crypto for foreign trade, and the identity of the foreign countries he mentioned is also obscure.

But the intent of the announcement appears clear: Iran will use cryptocurrency to settle cross-border trades.

That’s very significant because Iran is subject to extensive sanctions aimed at preventing its ability to acquire nuclear weapons and reduce its ability to sponsor terrorism. Sanctions prevent the sale of many commodities and technologies to Iran, and financial institutions aren’t allowed to deal with their Iranian counterparts, who are mostly shunned around the world.

As explained in this advisory [PDF] issued by the US Treasury, Iran has developed numerous practices to evade sanctions, including payment offsetting schemes that let it sell oil in contravention of sanctions. Proceeds of such sales are alleged to have been funnelled to terrorist groups.

While cryptocurrency’s anonymity has been largely disproved, trades in digital assets aren’t regulated so sanctions enforcement will be more complex if Iran and its trading partners use crypto instead of fiat currencies.

Which perhaps adds more weight to the argument that cryptocurrency has few proven uses beyond speculative trading, making the ransomware industry possible, and helping authoritarian states like Iran and North Korea to acquire materiel for weapons.

Peyman Pak’s mention of “widespread” cross-border crypto deals, facilitated by automated smart contracts, therefore represents a challenge to those who monitor and enforce sanctions – and something new to worry about for the rest of us. ®



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Edwards Lifesciences is hiring at its ‘key’ Shannon and Limerick facilities

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The medtech company is hiring for a variety of roles at both its Limerick and Shannon sites, the latter of which is being transformed into a specialised manufacturing facility.

Medical devices giant Edwards Lifesciences began renovations to convert its existing Shannon facility into a specialised manufacturing centre at the end of July.

The expansion will allow the company to produce components that are an integral part of its transcatheter heart valves. The conversion is part of Edwards Lifesciences’ expansion plan that will see it hire for hundreds of new roles in the coming years.

“The expanded capability at our Shannon facility demonstrates that our operations in Ireland are a key enabler for Edwards to continue helping patients across the globe,” said Andrew Walls, general manager for the company’s manufacturing facilities in Ireland.

According to Walls, hiring is currently underway at the company’s Shannon and Limerick facilities for a variety of functions such as assembly and inspection roles, manufacturing and quality engineering, supply chain, warehouse operations and project management.

Why Ireland?

Headquartered in Irvine, California, Edwards Lifesciences established its operations in Shannon in 2018 and announced 600 new jobs for the mid-west region. This number was then doubled a year later when it revealed increased investment in Limerick.

When the Limerick plant was officially opened in October 2021, the medtech company added another 250 roles onto the previously announced 600, promising 850 new jobs by 2025.

“As the company grows and serves even more patients around the world, Edwards conducted a thorough review of its global valve manufacturing network to ensure we have the right facilities and talent to address our future needs,” Walls told SiliconRepublic.com

“We consider multiple factors when determining where we decide to manufacture – for example, a location that will allow us to produce close to where products are utilised, a location that offers advantages for our supply chain, excellent local talent pool for an engaged workforce, an interest in education and good academic infrastructure, and other characteristics that will be good for business and, ultimately, good for patients.

“Both our Shannon and Limerick sites are key enablers for Edwards Lifesciences to continue helping patients across the globe.”

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