Amazon has dramatically lowered the price of its 10-inch tablet to $150, added more memory and a new hands-free Alexa feature.
Over the last two years Amazon has upgraded its Fire HD 8, improving its performance and upping its internal storage while slashing its price to $80 (£80). Now it's running the same play with its larger Fire HD 10, doubling its RAM to improve performance, bumping the storage on the base model to 32GB while chopping the price from $230 (£170) to $150 (£150 or about AU$190 converted). Battery life has improved to up to 10 hours.
The Fire HD 10 (2017) is available for preorder today in black, Marine blue and Punch red and ships on October 11. The 64GB version costs $180 (£180 or about AU$226 converted) and both models have a memory expansion slot for microSD cards up to 256GB.
The other noteworthy new feature is the addition of Alexa hands-free for the first time on a Fire tablet. That means you can talk directly to the tablet as you would an Echo speaker to access Alexa skills, no virtual button presses required.
In a meeting prior to the launch, Amazon reps showed me the new hands-free Alexa feature in action, using voice commands to play and pause a video, find music, dim the lights, set a timer, and show a daily calendar. You can enable Alexa hands-free to work even when the Fire HD 10's screen is off by setting set it to go into a special "standby" mode when the screen goes to sleep.
There's only a single microphone, not the advanced seven-mic circular array (for far-field voice recognition) found in Echo speakers, including the Echo Dot and Echo Show, so don't expect quite the same kind of across-the-room performance. But from short range anyway Alexa on the Fire HD 10 worked without a hitch in a quiet conference room.
Like the Fire HD 8, Amazon has nice new slim covers for the Fire HD 10 that allow you to prop up the tablet in both portrait and landscape orientations. They come in black, Marine blue, Punch red, and Cobalt purple for $40. The margins on the covers are presumably a lot better than the tablet, which is less than half the price of Apple's entry-level 9.7-inch iPad.
We'll have a full review of the Fire HD 10 2017 edition just prior to its ship date. In the meantime, here's a look at its key specs, according to Amazon: