Can anybody recommend an inexpensive tablet JUST for watching videos?

I have some library patrons without much money who need tablets just for video watching (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu). They’d like something that’s big enough and fast enough it that’s it’s clear and doesn’t buffer when they have a decent wifi connection, but beyond that they’re not picky about brand. They don’t want to pay the money for an iPad or a Samsung.
Any recs for a good “meat and taters” tablet that does clear video for not a lot of money?


PS- Obviously there are plenty of review sites online, but I’m more interested in personal opinions.
ETA: They’re interested in it for gym use, so should be relatively durable. (I dropped my iPad about 8 feet onto concrete, and while it cracked a bit it still works perfectly- probably doesn’t need to be THAT durable, but should stand up to some jiggling.)

I have a Kindle Fire and stream Netflix and Hulu it works fine. They’re $50 now

The screen is small so it depends on how you’ll be viewing things and how far you are from the screen.

I was going to recommend one of those based on their price but I’ve never used one. The streaming video quality is fine (proportionate to the screen size and all)?

The 7" $50 tablet is not HD, but given the screen size, you’re unlikely to notice. It’s a perfectly nice, usable, tablet.

OTOH, the 6" $70 tablet is HD, but again the smaller size makes it pretty much moot. The 6" screen has a higher pixel depth, though. It also has Dolby sound, instead of the generic speaker. If your clients can swing it, and don’t mind the pocket size, it might be worth it.

But the $50 model and slightly larger size is fine and some people will prefer it not being so itty-bitty.

The Kindle Fires, all models, include cameras & mics for skyping as well as email and internet abilities. They get about 6 hours of battery life (it varies, of course. Wifi & video streaming can eat batteries.)

They’re functioning kindles, which mean that they work with Amazon’s book format in addition to more generic text & pdf formats. In addition to the free books at Amazon, you can download books directly from Project Gutenberg. The Kindles will also connect to Overdrive, if your library supports that.

If they have Amazon Prime, they’ll connect seamlessly to that on the $50 Kindle. You can also watch a lot of other video services. The Kindles will also have free music with Amazon Prime Music.

Plus, Amazon Fire Kindles have a new program, called Amazon Underground, which is free apps they can play with. I know you’re asking about movies, but if they have the Kindle, they might be interested in some of this other stuff.

The $50 kindle works great and for all this, it’s really kind of a steal.


I have a generic (well, it’s RCA but that’s just a name stamped on it) 7" tablet I use for videos and it works quite well. The speakers aren’t great, but if you wear a cheap pair of headphones, they work fine.

I bought it the day after Thanksgiving for something like $19.99. It isn’t HD, but as others have said, at that size you can’t really tell. I’ve dropped it a few times and it continues to work. The battery is good for about 2 hours, maybe a little more.

Normally I’d recommend paying a little more and getting something with better features, but if ALL they want is something cheap that has wi-fi, I’d recommend they wait until something goes on sale, buy cheap, and not worry about it.

Check into a used Fire. Amazon sells them for $28. I bought one in “Acceptable” condition and the thing was like new and works perfect. If you need to expand beyond the 8gb, you can get a 16gb sd card for about $5. The 7" screen is just the right size, it has Bluetooth, and the battery life is like 5-6 hours. This thing is amazing for <$30.

Another Fire user here. I download shows off BBC iPlayer and it works just fine. There are things about it that annoy me but for videos it’s great.

8 inch kindle fire works great in the car for the kids. Durable and cheap enough to replace if necessary.

Could you explain what annoys you?

Note: The $50 Amazon tablet people are recommending is not a Kindle Fire. It’s just a Fire. (There was an older model called a Kindle Fire, you do not want that.)

I have one and it’s fine. And fine is often good enough. Not HD but the videos look pretty good to my eyes.

You can also get them for $10 off or more when they are on sale, which is often.

Do not get any of those no-name $40-$60 tablets you see for sale in big box store ads. They are total crap. Go with big name brands only.

This is true. When Amazon introduced its first tablets (after they’d already been selling Kindle e-ink e-readers for awhile), they called them the “Kindle Fire.” A while back (about a year ago maybe?) they dropped the word “Kindle” from their line of tablets (as opposed to e-readers), so all their recent models are just some version of “Fire.”

Can you still download books onto them?


Sure, they’re a tablet. But they aren’t optimized to be e-readers. The main effect in this case would be battery charge. You’re going to run down the battery faster using it as an e-reader compared to a dedicated device. Also, LCD color screens aren’t as good as e-ink B&W screens depending on resolution and other factors.

For just regular tasks, the screen resolution is fine for reading text, but I haven’t used it for extended reading like a book.

It comes with the Kindle reader and Amazon will give you some credit to buy a couple books.

Quite apart from the fact that the lock screen is an endless parade of ads for terrible books (and a few non-books) that you could BUY RIGHT NOW FROM AMAZON LOOK JUST CLICK THIS BUTTON HERE, I find the home pages are less user-friendly than their Apple counterpart, I have download freezes semi-regularly (which is not an issue for shows but my Facebook app is permanently half-loaded and will neither complete nor delete, for example, a problem noted by several other users) and if you want to use any websites with Flash you have to download it via a convoluted process. I really wouldn’t recommend it if web browsing on it is a big thing for you (no surprise - it uses Silk). I haven’t even figured out how to get YouTube on it yet. But since I mostly use it for games and watching downloads from the BBC it works just fine for me.

On that note, one upside is the aforementioned “Amazon Underground” free apps (including all the in-app purchases); there are some excellent choices on there. Personal faves at the moment are “Monument Valley” (a puzzle game that owes much to MC Escher), “Dark Echo” (a game with virtually no video and lots of terrifying sounds), and “Threes” (basically 2048 with fun sounds and a disturbingly catchy soundtrack).

ETA: I have a Kindle and as it’s linked the same account all my previous ebook purchases are available on the Fire as well if I want to load them. I haven’t bothered because frankly I don’t even use my Kindle that much. I prefer dead-tree editions.

Thanks for the recs! I’ve not only passed along the advice but I’ve decided to order a $50 Fire for myself just to try it out. My iPad has a cracked screen so I figure I can use this for my video viewing and save a little wear and tear.

Re: Ads.

I rooted mine immediately. (Rootjunkie method.) Now I actually own my tablet. But it wasn’t to get rid of the ads, merely a side effect.

OTOH, Mrs. FtG’s Kindle has the ad thing and we just don’t notice them at all anymore. Not worth the trouble to get rid of them.

I was going to root mine to get rid of the ads, but they’re not that big of a problem. Mine just appear when I fire it up, and are gone when I unlock it. Their ads are less intrusive than a lot of message boards.