Amazon Fire HD 8

Nobody ever wakes up in the morning and says "Ya know, I really wish I hadn't gotten more storage for my tablet." It just doesn't happen. (We'll leave for another time the fact that most folks are normal and don't think about this sort of thing at all.)

No, when it comes to your phones and tablets and pretty much any electronic device, you can never have too much storage. Because not only will you need it for things like apps and movies and pictures and videos, but the system itself takes up a good chunk of the capacity you'll see listed on the side of the box.

That last part is key. When you buy a "16GB" tablet, you're not actually getting 16GB of storage to work with. So the basic rule of thumb is this:

Always buy more storage than you think you'll need.

If that's good enough for you, great. Max out the specs and go to town. But let's break down the different Amazon Fire tablets and take a look at where things stand.

Fire 7: 8GB or 16GB?

Amazon Fire 7

This is one of those times when you need to heed the warnings. Because remember that the Fire tablets are built on Android, and 8GB of storage is the absolute minimum of anything that should be on sale in 2017. And even then, I don't recommend buying anything with that small amount of storage.

That part above where I mentioned the operating system taking up some space? On the 8GB Fire 7 tablet, it's only going to leave you with 4.5GB of storage for things you want to use. That's about 56% of the available storage on the Fire 7 gone as soon as you hit the power button.

Yes, the Fire 7 with 8GB of storage starts at just $49 (you can get it on sale for even less than that), but please pony up the extra $20 to get 16GB of storage. You might well bump up against the ceiling at some point, but that Andrew Jackson is going to go a long way, leaving 11.6GB — or about 72% — left for you to use. That's a much better use of your money.

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Fire HD 8 — 16GB or 32GB?

Amazon Fire HD 8

Now we're starting to get into an area in which the math matters a bit more. The Fire HD 8 — which is one of the few tablets I'd actually buy a youngster — starts at $80 for the 16GB model and hits $120 for the 32GB model. (Again, sale prices can drop that way down.)

The smaller of the two storage options — that'd be the 16GB model — leaves you 11.1GB available at first boot, or about 69%. The 32GB model has 25.3GB left over for your priceless pics, or about 79%.

That's not nearly as much of a difference, but it is still a goodly amount of storage. Again, the rule of "buy as much as you can" applies here. But if you want to go the 16GB route, you'll probably be OK.

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Fire 7 Kids Edition and Fire 8 Kids Edition

Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition

Let's lump the kids' editions of the tablets (they've got a beefier exterior and a more kid-friendly user interface) into one section here because you don't actually get a choice of storage. The Fire 7 Kids Edition sports 16GB of storage, with 11GB available to your kiddo. The Fire 8 Kids Edition (in addition to being an inch larger) comes with 32GB of storage, and 25.3GB available at boot.

There's a $30 difference between the two — and a pretty big psychological difference going from $99 to $129. (And sale prices drop that even further.) But keep in mind that the 8-incher has a slightly better screen and bigger battery, in addition to having more storage available. That's the route I'd go.

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What about a microSD card?

Good question. All of these tablets let you stick a microSD card in them to increase the available storage. And you should do that if you've got one laying around.

Does that mean that adding a 16GB microSD card to a 16GB Fire tablet gets you the same thing as if you had a 32GB tablet? Not quite. microSD cards aren't as fast as having all that storage built in. And then there's the chance of the card being removed and lost. (Or worse, as kids tend to love the taste of microSD cards. Which isn't so bad, until you try to retrieve it later. But I digress.)

So, yes. Feel free to add in a microSD card. In fact, you probably should.

See memory cards at Amazon

Updated December 2017: New sales pricing is making these things a steal. But heed our warnings above.

Amazon Fire tablets


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