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An "="" fire="" hd="" 8"="">"all-new" Fire HD 8 tablet is on the way, but it's much more of a refresh than a major upgrade. Shipping on Oct. 4 and available in the same colors and chassis as the previous model, the latest Fire HD 8 adds a 2-megapixel front-facing camera with 720p video, support for up to 400GB additional storage via its microSD slot and hands-free Alexa support even when your screen is in standby mode. It will cost the same as the last HD 8: $80 (£80).
A few months back Amazon introduced Show Mode for its Fire HD 10 and Fire HD 8 tablets along with a Show Mode Charging Dock accessory that essentially allows you to turn your Fire tablet into an Echo Show. The always-ready Alexa feature that's built into Amazon's Echo devices is available for the previous generation Fire HD 8 via a software upgrade (after the software upgrade you no longer don't have to touch the screen to enable voice commands). However, it didn't work when your screen went into standby mode unless the device was plugged into power.
Like the HD 10, the new HD 8 has access to the always-ready Alexa feature and Show Mode without being plugged in. You need to be connected to Wi-Fi to use the always-ready Alexa feature.
The only downgrade I noticed in the specs is that battery life has decreased by 2 hours. It was rated at 12 hours for "mixed use" in the previous model. Now it's rated at 10 hours.
"[The] Fire HD 8 includes always-ready, hands-free Alexa, which impacts battery usage," an Amazon spokesperson explained to CNET. "There are hardware capabilities that help manage battery impact, but Alexa hands-free is also an optional feature. If you choose to turn it off, you may gain about 2 hours of battery life. You can still access Alexa by pushing the Home button."
Amazon also announced that the new upgrades will be available in the "all-new" 32GB Fire HD 8 Kids Edition for $130 or £130, which includes a protective case, a two-year free replacement policy and one year of FreeTime Unlimited. It's also introducing a new Spanish language experience within Amazon FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited.
"Kids now have access to over 1,000 age-appropriate books, videos, educational apps, and games, plus thousands of hand-curated websites and web videos -- all in Spanish and included with a FreeTime Unlimited subscription," Amazon says. "Parents can choose to enable Spanish-only content, English-only content or a combination of both. Settings can be customized for each individual child profile."
FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited in Spanish will be available on Fire Kids Edition tablets, in the FreeTime app on compatible Fire tablets, and on compatible iOS devices, via a free software update that will begin rolling out on Oct. 4 and is coming soon to compatible Android devices.
I'll post a full review as soon as we get our hands on a review sample, which should be just before it ships on Oct. 4. But much of what we said about the previous HD 8 and latest HD 10 will apply to this model. At $80 -- and sometimes less during Amazon sales -- it remains an excellent tablet value. That said, I hope Amazon will move to USB-C charging in the next generation.
Here's a recap of the "all-new" Fire HD 8's key specs and features: