The company's largest tablet gets a performance boost, just in time for the holidays.
Earlier this year, Amazon made some small upgrades to its entry-level tablet, the Fire 7. Now its top-of-the-line, value-priced Fire HD 10, which starts at $150 for the 32GB version, gets a similar update, adding a faster processor, 2-megapixel front camera and something we haven't seen before in an Amazon tablet: USB-C charging. The new Fire HD 10 is available in four color options.
Among the iterative changes are are improved Wi-Fi performance, Amazon says, thanks to a second antenna: One is activated if you're holding the tablet in landscape mode while the other is used if you're holding it in portrait mode. The new octa-core MediaTek 8183 processor with 2GB of RAM is supposed to deliver a 30% speed boost and also help with multitasking, too. Otherwise, not much else has changed. The new Fire HD 10 has the same better-than-1080p (1900 x 1200) HD display of the previous model and the same MicroSD expansion slot for additional storage up to 512GB. At 504g, the new Fire HD 10 weighs a touch more (the previous model weighs 500g).
While the battery capacity hasn't increased, like with the Fire 7, Amazon has managed to improve the tablet's battery life through software updates. The Fire HD 10 runs on Amazon's latest Fire OS, a customized version of Android P, which was released last fall.
I played around with the new Fire HD 10 at a pre-launch event and it does appear to be a little zippier. As part of the performance upgrade, Amazon is touting a new feature -- picture-in-picture mode -- that allows you to keep a small window streaming video in the bottom corner of the screen while you browse the internet or use other apps. Apple's iPads have had this feature for a while.
Needless to say, Fire tablets are designed to give you easy access to Amazon's ecosystem, which includes a lot of "free" content for Prime members. In recent years Amazon has added such features as hands-free (always-on) Alexa voice-assistant support, essentially turning its tablets into Echo devices that you can also use control Alexa-enabled smart devices in your home. The tablets don't have the multiple-microphone arrays that Echo speakers are equipped with, but their voice recognition works well at close range.
As usual, the Fire HD 10 is going to be available in a Kids Edition that includes a 2-year replacement guarantee (Amazon will replace your tablet if anything goes wrong) and a year of Amazon's FreeTime Unlimited service ($70 value). The Fire HD 10 Kids Edition starts at $199 for the 32GB version. It includes a padded case and -- for the first time -- a built-in stand.
Here's a look at the new Fire HD 10 key specs, according to Amazon. We'll have a full few in the coming weeks.
Separately, Amazon also announced its first-ever Kindle Kids Edition. Its kid-centric Freetime service is also coming to Fire TV devices.