Tablet Face-Off: Amazon Fire HD 8 vs. Walmart Onn Tablet Pro 8

They're both reasonably priced, but which is right for you?

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The Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet (left) and the Walmart Onn Tablet Pro 8
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If you’re looking for an inexpensive tablet, you have plenty of options. But few may be as appealing as the Amazon Fire HD 8 and the Onn Tablet Pro 8 from Walmart's in-house electronics brand.

Both are designed for lightweight tasks like browsing the web, streaming video, and reading e-books, and both cost around $100. You get more than 10 hours of battery life, which is decent, and access to a seemingly limitless number of apps. Not too shabby, especially considering that the cheapest of Apple’s iPads can cost more than three times as much.

“Both can be good budget choices for kids,” says Antonette Asedillo, who oversees tablet and computer testing at Consumer Reports. “They can be set up with parental controls, and with the low price, you can worry less about giving them a new device.”

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Asedillo notes, however, that neither tablet would be a great fit for remote work or learning, in part because the built-in cameras aren’t very good. If it’s remote work or learning you need a device for, an inexpensive Chromebook may be a better fit.

“In Skype calls, both tablets were equally disappointing,” she says, describing our test findings. “Video lacks details, colors appear off-tone, and voices sound robotic.”

Asedillo points out the major trade-offs you'll make when considering one of these $100 tablets: so-so cameras and displays that are outclassed by other tablets on the market. Still, they may be a compelling package for consumers who can’t or don’t want to spend a ton of money.

But questions remain: How do they measure up? Is one really any better than the other, or is it basically a toss-up? Read on to find out.

What You'll Get

Both the Amazon Fire HD 8 and Onn Pro 8 are 8-inch tablets that have 32GB of built-in storage, plus an SD card slot for additional storage. Those 32GB of built-in storage should be enough for everyday use, but if you intend to save a lot of photos and videos, you may want to get the SD card. Or better yet, you can use cloud storage and stream content instead of downloading it. That way you won’t have to rely on local storage, and you’ll be able to access your files in the cloud from other devices.

Both tablets have rear- and front-facing cameras for taking photos and conducting video calls, but none of the cameras are especially good. You’ll want to stick with using your smartphone for taking “real” photos. And both of the tablets’ front-facing cameras produce only passable results with video calls. You might be able to improve video call quality if you pay attention to the lighting, but don’t expect iPhone- or Samsung Galaxy-level quality.

Both tablets support WiFi 5, an older WiFi standard that is currently being phased out in favor of WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E. However, unless you plan to upgrade your wireless router to WiFi 6 or 6E sometime soon (which can be an investment of hundreds of dollars), WiFi 5 is completely fine for the everyday tasks these tablets are designed for.

The similarities between the two tablets begin to fade away right around here.

Display and Sound

While on paper both displays are very similar, coming in at 8 inches with the same 1280x800 resolution, our testers say the Fire’s display has slightly more accurate colors than the Pro 8. That means the Fire might be the better bet if you intend to frequently stream video from services like Disney+, YouTube, and Netflix. The Fire produced better audio, too. Both support wired and Bluetooth headphones and headsets.

Battery

In one of our battery tests, which drains the battery down to zero while surfing the web, the Amazon Fire HD 8 lasted about 16 hours. In another test, in which we drain the battery to zero by playing a video on loop, it lasted 15 hours. The Onn lasted 12.5 hours and 10.6 hours, respectively, in these two tests. So if battery life is your main concern, the Amazon tablet is the better pick.

Software Ecosystems

The Amazon Fire HD 8 and Onn have access to two different app ecosystems, which may have an impact on your buying decision.

The Fire HD 8 ships with Fire OS 7.3, an Amazon-developed operating system that uses its own app store. This app store has many of the apps you’d want to see, like Disney+, Netflix, Spotify, and Sonos. But it's currently missing a few big ones, like the new Peacock streaming app, the Roku Channel, the Barnes & Noble Nook e-book app, Fortnite, and, of course, Google’s own apps, like Gmail and Google Calendar. You may be able to find alternatives in some circumstances—Kindle instead of Nook to read books, the built-in generic email app, etc.—but if you’re reluctant to leave the warm embrace of the Android app ecosystem, the Onn may make more sense for you.

On the other hand, the Fire 8 gives you access to Amazon Kids+, a curated selection of kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, and apps that doesn’t really have an equivalent on the Onn Pro 8. This is a premium feature that costs $2.99 per month but may be worth it if you’re envisioning this tablet as a sort of robo-babysitter. Both tablets let you create dedicated profiles for kids to restrict what content they can access. Not even the iPad can do that.

And of course, if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you’ll have easy access to all of that premium content, like Prime Video and select free e-books, the moment you turn on the Fire.

The Onn, meanwhile, ships with Android 10 and has access to the Google Play app store. That means apps you’ve previously purchased on Google Play will be available on the Onn without having to buy them again, saving you money. It also means you have access to Google apps including Gmail and Google Calendar without having to use third-party options that may not be as fully featured as Google’s versions.

Both tablets also ship with different built-in digital assistants: Alexa for the Fire HD 8 and the Google Assistant for the Onn Pro 8. If you merely use digital assistants to do things like set reminders, ask for sports scores, or check the weather forecast, this probably isn't a big deal. But if you’ve already gone all-in on, say, an Alexa or Google Assistant-powered smart home filled with smart lights, video doorbells and the like, that may influence your tablet-buying decision, too.

Other Considerations

In our performance tests, the Onn tablet was a touch faster at performing everyday tasks (think web browsing and email).

In Consumer Reports’ member surveys, which ask owners about product reliability and how satisfied they are with their purchases, the Fire gets good marks. But because the Onn brand is so new, we don’t yet have enough data to rate the Pro 8 on these aspects.

Availability is another thing to think about. The Kindle Fire HD 8 is available on Amazon as well as at select retailers like Best Buy and Target. As an in-house Walmart brand, the Onn Pro 8 is available exclusively at Walmart stores and Walmart.com. If you need a tablet now and the closest store is a Walmart or a Target, well, then there you go.

The Fire HD 8 comes with a 90-day limited warranty and the Onn Pro 8 has a one-year limited warranty.

The Verdict

The Amazon Fire HD 8 and Onn Pro 8 are both good budget tablets for consumers. They’re both equally capable of browsing the web and keeping tabs on social media, and both will help you kill a few hours watching "WandaVision" on Disney+ (though the Fire’s display is slightly better in this regard).

There are some differences in terms of app availability, however, so you should make sure the apps you want are there before you splash the cash. You can easily do so, by the way, by searching the Amazon Appstore and Google Play websites.

If you’re already enmeshed in the Amazon ecosystem, then the Fire HD 8 might be the better bet, especially if you’re shopping for young children and the idea of a curated selection of kid-friendly content sounds appealing.

The Fire does have better battery life than the Onn, so if you want to take your tech with you when you’re out and about and don’t want to carry your charger, that may sway your thinking. But if you’re mostly lounging around the house and always have a power outlet available, this may matter less.

These are very close tablets, so it comes down to which ecosystem you’d benefit more from: Amazon’s or Google’s.


Headshot image of Electronics editor Nicholas Deleon

Nicholas De Leon

I've been covering consumer electronics for more than 10 years for publications like TechCrunch, The Daily (R.I.P.), and Motherboard. When I'm not researching or writing about laptops or headphones I can likely be found obsessively consuming news about FC Barcelona, replaying old Super Nintendo games for the hundredth time, or chasing my pet corgi Winston to put his harness on so we can go for a walk. Follow me on Twitter (@nicholasadeleon).