Amazon has announced some big additions to its Fire tablet lineup.
The company announced today (June 28) that it is releasing a new Fire HD 10 Kids Edition tablet, as well as a charging-dock accessory. On the software side, it's rolling out a new Show Mode to Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 devices that essentially turns your tablet into an Echo Show.
The Fire HD 10 Kids Edition will be Amazon's largest and fastest tablet for kids, according to the company. Like its predecessor, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, the new tablet will come in a cute, protective rubber case. Also like its predecessor, it comes with 32GB of storage and a two-year "worry-free guarantee" obligating Amazon to replace the tablet if your child breaks it.
You'll also get a yearlong subscription to FreeTime Unlimited, which gives your child access to popular kid-friendly apps and skills, and gives you access to parental controls to supervise and limit your kid's access (FreeTime is $2.99 per month after that). The whole bundle starts at $199.99 and will ship July 11.
Show Mode is a free software update that will roll out to Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets starting July 2.
When your tablet is in Show Mode, Alexa will provide on-screen visuals to complement its voice responses, the way it does on the Echo Show's and Echo Spot's screens. You'll now be able to ask Alexa to show your calendar, song lyrics or a video flash briefing, as you can on the Echo Show.
Amazon also announced the Show Mode Charging Dock, a device that will charge your tablet and automatically launch Show Mode if your Fire HD 8 or Fire HD 10 tablet is connected. That device will start at $34.99 for the former tablet and $49.99 for the latter.
Frankly, it's surprising this update didn't come sooner. The Alexa on Fire Tablets is the same Alexa as that which lives on the Echo Show, and since both devices have screens, there's no reason they shouldn't have the same functionality.
But Show Mode will probably make for a more pleasant viewing experience than the Show does. The Fire HD 10 has a 10.1-inch display, while the Fire HD 8 has an 8-inch display -- both larger than the Echo Show's display which, at 7 inches, is around the size of a screen you'll see on the back of an airplane seat.
Meanwhile, the Echo Show's display delivers 1024 x 600 resolution, which is the same (relatively low) resolution as the 2017 Fire tablet. The Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 sport much better displays, at 1280 x 800 and 1920 x 1200 respectively. The tl;dr is that when it comes to Alexa's visual interface Show Mode will give you access to a new and improved version of the Echo Show.
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