Amazon's new Fire HD 8 looks a lot like last year's Fire HD 8, but there are a few key differences, the biggest of which is the new lower price tag. Much lower, in fact: $90 or £90, which converts to about AU$115. By comparison the Apple iPad Mini 4 costs $400, £379 or AU$569.
The previous generation Fire HD 8 started at $150 (£130 or AU$215). That model came with only 8GB of storage while this new one includes 16GB, with an expansion slot for adding microSD memory cards up to 200GB in capacity.
While the quad-core processor is a new chip, Amazon says the real performance boost will come from a bump in RAM from 1GB to 1.5GB. And battery life life, thanks to a larger battery, is up to 12 hours.
The other noteworthy feature addition isn't available yet, but will be in the next few months: Alexa, the cloud-based voice service, makes her debut on Fire tablets. To activate Alexa, you'll have to press a virtual button (with the Echo you simply have to say her name -- so long as you're connected to the Internet). You can use voice commands to tell Alexa to play music, launch games, read audiobooks, deliver weather reports and more.
It's also worth mentioning that Alexa won't be available only on the new Fire HD 8. She's also coming to the Fire HD 10, Fire and last year's Fire HD 8 tablets via a free over-the-air software update in the coming months.
Shipping September 21, here are the new Fire HD 8's key specs and features:
- 8-inch widescreen (1280x800 pixels) HD display with over a million pixels (189 ppm).
- Quad-core 1.3 GHz processor and 1.5 GB of RAM. That's 50% more RAM than the previous generation Fire HD 8 for faster performance when playing games or launching apps.
- Twice as much storage: 16 GB or 32 GB options with support for up to 200 GB of expandable storage via microSD.
- 4,750 mAh battery for up to 12 hours of mixed use battery life for a full day of power. (Previous-generation HD 8 had a 3,210 man battery).
- Amazon says the Fire HD 8 is twice as durable as the iPad Mini 4, as measured in tumble tests.
- Front- and rear-facing cameras with free, unlimited cloud storage for all photos taken on Fire devices.
- Fire HD 8 stereo speakers are custom-tuned with Dolby Audio for immersive, high-quality sound.
- Fire OS 5 includes a user interface that replicates the look and feel of a magazine, making browsing and searching for your content easier than ever--now with support for Comixology and Twitch.
- The Amazon Underground app store offers thousands of premium apps, games and even in-app items for free, including extra lives, unlocked levels, unlimited add-on packs and more.
- On Deck: For Prime members, On Deck automatically keeps your Fire tablet current with popular Prime movies and TV shows, as well as Amazon Original Series. If you aren't a Prime member, On Deck downloads first episodes of Amazon Original Series.
- Amazon-exclusive features: ASAP, X-Ray, Second Screen, Family Library, Amazon FreeTime, Prime Video downloads, Blue Shade, Word Runner and more.
- Screen sharing: Let an Amazon expert guide you remotely through any feature on your screen.
- Available in four color options: Black, magenta, blue and tangerine.
- UK: £90
- DE: €90 for Prime members; €110 for non-Prime members
- FRITES: €110
- JP: ¥8,980 for Prime members; ¥12,980 for non-Prime members
- Not available in Australia