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My Latest Obsession: Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021)

The Amazon Fire HD Tablet was on-sale for just $74.99 during the holidays. It now sells for $149.99, and is a tremendous value even at that price. While I'm not here to compare this to Apple products, when you consider that the base model 10" Ipad starts at $329, it's hard to ignore other brands. The article below gets into details- but here are the highlights, whether you're a voice actors or just want an affordable tablet:

Click here for the highlights:

* A fully functioning tablet capable of playing all major streaming services in beautiful 1080 HD

* Has a headphone jack and bluetooth capability, as well as decent built in speakers.

* Has a micro SD card slot capable of taking up to 1 TB of storage. You read that right.

* Forward and rear-facing camera for Zoom meetings or taking photos.

* Full-function Amazon Echo/ Show built in.

* You can run Source Connect Now in the Silk Browser (included).

... and so much more!





Before the holidays, I received an Amazon email pushing their latest Fire HD 10 tablet for just $74.99. That caught my attention, as I've recently started using an Avid S1 control surface in my home studio. The S1 pairs with the Avid Control app (Apple, Google, etc), turning your tablet into an extension of your surface. In addition to giving you a virtual meter bridge and on-screen faders, it has a million other features and functions to help with your mixing and editing workflow. I had been using an older Ipad mini, which was working well... but it was small. A 10.1" tablet seemed like a much better fit... and for just $74.99, it was worth investigating.


I have to say that I am shocked. Stay with me here, because there is a LOT to unpack for something so small, and while I am going to be talking directly to voice actors- this is an amazing device for anyone to have. For starters, I am already an Amazon Prime member. As soon as I logged into the HD10, I had a lot at my fingertips: previously purchased books, Amazon Prime video, Amazon Music, a photo archive from my Iphone, and more. I very quickly made sure to download and log into Netflix, Disney Plus, and HBO Max. The screen is a great size for movies on-the-go, with excellent quality. The sound from the built in speakers is similar to Ipads and Iphones- but headphones will serve you better. I paired my AirPod Pros to the HD10, but it also has a 1/8" headphone jack for a wired connection.


I was immediately delighted by this device. It's the size I wanted for my audio mixer, with the added benefit of movies, music, books, and games. It also has the rest of the things you might expect from a tablet: email, contacts, calendar, the internet, etc. As an Ipad user, this is basically the extent of what I used it for. But with the Fire HD 10 (and their smaller units), it turns out this is only the beginning.


Baked into the OS is a fully functioning Echo Show device. While I admit we're an Apple household, we do have Echo devices everywhere. I have found that Alexa consistently outperforms Siri when it comes to answering direct questions and performing basic tasks. We also have Ring doorbells, and using the HD 10 is the first time I've actually been able to quickly engage video to see who's at the door. In fact, I can just say "Alexa, show me the front door", and presto: I'm looking outside. The Ring app on my Iphone 11 takes a really long to engage, so much so that the visitor is often gone before I can even see who was there. This is great for me, because while I'm working from home instead of going into Manhattan daily, and with local actors coming to record at my house, I can see who's at the door automatically right on my mixer! For those that already know, Alexa can do so much more too. I have it connected to my Apple Reminders and Calendar to quickly add items and events. I can also tell it to make the Phillips Hue stairwell light RED so that others in the house know I'm recording.


But it gets even better! I got the base unit of the Fire HD10, which comes with 32 gig of internal memory. I didn't really care about that, because as I mentioned earlier, I wanted this tablet for a very specific task. Everything else is a nice bonus. However, I discovered that it has a protected Micro SD card slot that can take up to a 1 TB chip! That is an enormous amount of memory for a tablet. That card can be merged with the internal memory and used as one larger "internal drive" to store photos, music, downloaded shows, movies and more. I opted to grab a 400 gb SanDisk card for $38 (the price seems to have gone back up $10- but as type this, it's still 31% off the normal price). This will likely be more than enough memory for me for a while.



But it gets even better! For a voice actor on the go, this could prove to be an all-in-one solution in a way that the Ipad isn't. While I haven't found a ton of audio recording and editing software for the HD10, the one pictured above is called WavePad, and seems to be comparable to Twisted Wave and Audacity. If you prefer Twisted Wave, the browser-based version seems to work fine with the included Silk browser from Amazon. If you've added a decent sized SD card to the Fire HD 10, you likely have plenty of room to record voice over jobs and auditions on the go... for a long time.



But it gets even better! What you're seeing above is Source Connect Now from Source Elements. It's the free version that works with Chrome browsers. To my delight, it runs on the Fire HD10's Silk browser. Now- to be fair, I have yet to connect a microphone or audio interface to the unit's USB-C port. I am hoping someone can give it a try and report back. Online research shows me that units like IKMultimedia's IRig Pre HD should work with it, but the IRig Pro unit I have is older and does not have USB-C. The same goes for Focusrite interfaces, which are USB-C to begin with. I'll update this as others weigh in or I'm able to test further. Also missing is the option for an ethernet connection... but if you're trying to work on-the-go and have access to solid Wifi, you'll most likely be fine. I did some initial testing using the built-in mic to my main rig. It worked, but got choppy at times. I will have to do some more experimenting- but I am optimistic! On my Ipad, when I launch a Chrome browser, Source Elements lets me sign in... but then gives a message that Source Connect Now doesn't work in Ipads.



For apps that support it, you can actually run two at once, split-screen. Pictured below are Zoom and Source Connect Now (in the Silk Browser)- side by side! I can also imagine reading a script alongside a Zoom call, etc. This is yet another unexpected and delightful feature for such an affordable tablet.


As I mentioned, I haven't had a chance to experiment with interfaces, especially in terms of sharing audio resources between apps. My expectation is low. I can't imagine sharing a live mic with both Source Connect Now AND Zoom (in fact I'm not able to find Zoom audio preferences on the app here at all, so I am assuming that would be the built in mic by default). But again, this wouldn't be a full-time setup for a voice actor. This is a gadget to bring on vacation in case of emergency.



I am all-in on the Apple ecosystem at home: from Macbooks to Ipad Pro, Iphones to Apple TV. So I was wondering if I could access Apple "stuff" on my new toy. The answer seems to be YES... but with a catch. When you launch the Silk Browser (which comes loaded onto the HD10) and go to Icloud.com, it ONLY takes you to the "find my device" page. This was initially discouraging. I had assumed that Apple found a way to keep their stuff off the Amazon devices. But then I clicked those three dots in the upper right corner of the browser where you can adjust settings. It turns out that all I had to do was tap "request desktop site", and presto! All of my Apple must-haves are there for me! Saved files, mail, apps, reminders, etc. Bookmark it to save a few steps moving forward.


I really love the Fire HD10. I am totally geeking out over it- especially since it only cost $75 at the time Santa bought it. It's a bargain at $150, in my opinion (especially compared to a similar sized Ipad). I'm giving this a big thumbs-up as a travel companion that gives you all of your entertainment, connectivity AND storage space up to 1 TB for a very affordable price. I also paired mine with a perfectly sized backlit bluetooth keyboard and stand to make a perfect mini-computer. It works well enough that I wrote this article using it!




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