Amazon upgrades its Fire HD 8 tablet with USB-C, more RAM, faster processor and wireless charging
The company's popular 8-inch tablet gets some small but meaningful upgrades, and a new HD 8 Plus has even more RAM and wireless charging.
David CarnoyExecutive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
ExpertiseMobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakersCredentials
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Back in October, Amazon updated its value-price 10-inch tablet, the Fire HD 10, and now its popular Fire HD 8 gets a similar update, adding a faster processor, 2GB of RAM (up from 1.5), USB-C charging and 32GB of storage in the base 8-inch model (up from 16GB). The new model is $90, or $10 more than the previous HD 8. Alternatively, for $20 more ($110 total), you can now get a new HD 8 Plus that adds an extra gigabyte of RAM (3GB instead of 2GB) and wireless charging, too. The new
Fire HD 8
and HD 8 Plus are available for preorder now and ship on June 3.
The HD 8 gets the same iterative changes that the HD 10 got, including 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 quad-core MediaTek 8168 processor with 2GB of RAM is supposed to deliver a 30% speed boost and also help with multitasking, too. It's a definite bump up from the 1.3GHz MediaTek 8163 processor in the previous HD 8. But it's still a step down from octa-core 2.0GHz MediaTek 8183 processor found on the HD 10.
Otherwise, not much else has changed. The new Fire HD 8 has the same (1,280x800-pixel resolution) HD display of the previous model and a microSD expansion slot for additional storage up to 1TB (the previous model supported up to 512GB). At 355g, or about 12.5 ounces, the new Fire HD 8 weighs a touch less than its 363g predecessor.
While the battery capacity hasn't increased, as with the Fire 10, Amazon has managed to improve the tablet's battery life through software updates -- it's now rated for up to 12 hours for mixed use, up from 10 hours. The Fire HD 8 runs on Amazon's latest Fire OS, a customized version of Android P, which was released in the fall of 2018.
Fire HD 10
, as part of the performance upgrade, the HD 8 gets the new 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 awhile.
Needless to say, Fire
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 to control Alexa-enabled smart devices in your home. The tablets don't have the multiple-microphone arrays that Echo speakers are equipped with, but based on my experience with previous models, their voice recognition works well at close range.
As usual, the Fire HD 8 is going to be available in a Kids Edition that includes a two-year replacement guarantee and a year of Amazon's FreeTime Unlimited service ($70 value). The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition starts at $140 for the 32GB version and includes a padded case with a built-in stand.
We'll have full reviews of Fire HD 8 and HD 8 Plus around the time they ship in June.
Fire HD 8 key specs
According to Amazon:
HD display (1,280x800) with over 1 million pixels (189 ppi)
New MediaTek quad-core 8168 2.0GHz processor with 2GB of RAM is 30% faster than its predecessor
20% longer battery life -- up to 12 hours of mixed-use battery life
355g (predecessor weighs 363g)
32GB or 64GB of built-in storage with support for up to 1TB of expandable storage via microSD (free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with Fire tablets)
USB-C charging (less than 5 hours for a full charge)
Stereo speakers tuned by Dolby
Enhanced dual-band Wi-Fi with enhanced 802.11ac Wi-Fi support
New picture-in-picture mode: Watch videos from
, Twitch, Netflix, STARZ and more while also browsing the web, checking email, reviewing your calendar or visiting
Alexa hands-free -- always-on access to Alexa allows you to control video and music playback, launch apps, get news and sports scores, display the weather and other features
Front- and rear-facing cameras, both 2MP 720p
Amazon FreeTime -- Parents can create child profiles to limit screen time, set educational goals and manage content
Screen sharing: An Amazon expert will guide you remotely through any feature on your screen (available 24/7, 365 days a year for free)
Price: $90 with 32GB (two for $160 for a limited time); $120 with 64GB; $140 for Kids Edition (32GB only)
Four color options: Plum, twilight blue, black and white
Preorder now, shipping June 3
Fire HD 8 Plus adds
3GB of RAM (1GB more than standard Fire HD) makes this model a little zippier
Wireless charging: When bundled with a compatible wireless charging dock, the Fire HD 8 Plus turns into countertop
with hands-free Alexa access in Show Mode (it basically becomes an Echo Show device)
Includes a faster-charging 9W adapter that charges the HD 8 tablet in less than 4 hours (instead of less than 5)
Six months of Kindle Unlimited included with purchase (after six months, the Kindle Unlimited membership renews at the regular price of just $9.99 per month)
One color option: Slate
Price: $110 for 32GB; $140 for 32GB model in a bundle with the all-new Made for Amazon Wireless Charging Dock by Angreat