Best cheap tablets: Amazon Kindle Fire HD 6 and 7

LAPTOP Mag editor in chief considers the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 6 and Fire HD 7 to be the best inexpensive tablets on the market.

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 miniand 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.

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.

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