When you think of Android tablets, it's time to think of Amazon.

Amazon's not overly flashy about it, but it's got a couple of the better Android tablets available today. That's perhaps damning with faint praise, but hear me out. The Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 perhaps get you the most bang for your buck. Certainly that's true for Android-based tablets, and you could well argue it's true of any tablet anywhere.

The basics: As the names imply, Amazon has an 8-inch tablet and a 10-inch tablet. They're both running the "Fire OS" operating system, which is Amazon's own version of Android. They get apps from the Amazon Appstore, and have full access to Amazon Music, Books, Video, Movies and everything else Amazon does.

And both are inexpensive. Not relatively inexpensive, but downright cheap. But they're cheap without really feeling cheap, ya know?

What else do you need, right?

OK, you need to choose between the two. We can help. Here's what I'd consider between the Amazon Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10.

See Fire HD tablets at Amazon

Amazon Fire HD 10 and Fire HD 8 The Amazon Fire HD 10 ($149 at Amazon) and Fire HD 8 ($79 at Amazon).

Comparing Fire HD prices

As you'd expect, the larger Fire HD cost more than the smaller. But there's more to break down here. Each is available with "special offers," which means there are ads on the lock screen and in the notification pull-down. They don't actually bother me too much. But they don't really jack up the price of the hardware that much if you choose to go the other route.

You'll also pay more (or less) depending on how much storage you opt for. Here's the breakdown of the two tablets.

Device With special offers Without special offers
Fire HD 8 (16GB) $79 $95
Fire HD 8 (32GB) $109 $124
Fire HD 10 (32GB) $149 $164
Fire HD 10 (64GB) $189 $204

So on the whole, the smaller Fire HD 8 is a little less than half as expensive as the larger Fire HD 10. But you also get more for your money if you get the model with the lower storage, as the price per gigabyte is a bit lower. Couple that with the fact that you can add in a microSD card to extend the storage, and you wouldn't be wrong to go for the lower of the two sizes.

The best SD cards for Amazon Fire tablets

Which one's better to use?

For the most part, using the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 gives you a relatively similar experience. They both run the same Fire OS operating system (slightly different version numbers, but whatever).

But the Fire HD 10 has better internals. It's got a better processor and more RAM, and it definitely runs things a little more smoothly — though still not anything earth-shattering — than the Fire HD 8. These are still very much mid-range tablets, but the Fire HD 10 won't leave you wondering what's going on behind the scenes as much.

But for me the bigger difference is in the displays.

Sure, we're talking an 8-inch display versus a 10-inch display. But we're also talking differences in resolutions. The Fire HD 8 tops out at 720p, while the Fire HD 10 comes in at 1080p. Along with that higher resolution, the Fire HD 10's display density is about 15 percent greater than the Fire HD 8. And I've found that dark colors are definitely darker on the Fire HD 10. That makes pretty much everything look better. And that's key for the Fire HD 10 because it's ultimately the better device for watching video. And video is a key component of Amazon's strategy these days.

Amazon Fire HD 10 and Fire HD 8

The short, short version

Here's how I'd break it down:

  • If cost is your chief concern, go for the Fire HD 8. It'll serve you well enough.
  • If you're going to be watching a lot of video, get the Fire HD 10. The bigger screen makes a difference, and the higher pixel density does as well.
  • And if you're giving one of these to a kid, make sure to get a case.