Not only is Amazon's latest Fire HD 8 tablet less expensive than before, down from $150 to $90, but it also marks voice-assistant Alexa's first on a slate. Available for pre-order now and arriving September 21, the 8-inch Fire OS tablet comes in black, blue, magenta and tangerine.
Unfortunately, you won't be able to activate Alexa on Fire tablets with your voice, as the Fire HD 8 requires you to long-press the home button before asking anything of the digital assistant. This method is similar to how you activate Alexa on the Amazon Tap, a device that took the magic out of the digital assistant.
Alexa won't ship on the tablet either, but rather show up via a software update "in the coming months." Current Fire tablet owners shouldn't fret, as Alexa will also be coming to the Fire HD 10 tablet, the 7-inch Fire tablet and last year's Fire HD 8 model.
The Fire HD 8 tablets feature a 1.3-GHz processor with 1.5 GB of RAM, an upgrade from the 1GB found in last year's model. The tablets also see an upgrade in storage, coming in 16GB ($90) and 32GB ($120) versions, as opposed to the 8GB and 16GB offerings from last year.
Amazon claims that the Fire HD 8's 4,750 mAh battery should last up to "12 hours of mixed use." We look forward to discovering how long it can last under the Laptop Mag Battery Test (web surfing on Wi-Fi at 150 nits of screen brightness).
These slates run Fire OS 5, the same forked version of Android found on last year's Fire HD tablets. It costs $15 to buy the Fire HD 8 without the "Special Offers" ads that Amazon places on the tablet's panel when it's locked.
Amazon is also confident that the Fire HD 8 is one of the most durable mid-size slates. The company boasts that tumble tests demonstrate that the tablet is twice as durable as the iPad Mini 4.
In a jab at Apple's iPads (that also applies to Huawei's luxury-priced MediaPad M3) Fire Tablet General Manager Kevin Keith stated the company offers "a different approach to tablets—providing premium products at non-premium prices."
Keith claims that the company has seen sales of Fire tablets "more than double year-over-year" but whether adding Alexa and dropping the price can throw a life preserver to the larger tablet market remains to be seen.
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