Amazon is updating its popular £80 media tablet with an improved camera and new Alexa capabilities that turn it into an Echo device with a screen.
The new Fire HD 8 looks almost identical on the outside to the previous version, with a robust plastic body available in a collection of colours. Inside is a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1.5GB of RAM, a choice of 16 or 32GB of storage, an 8in 720p screen and stereo speakers, an improved front-facing camera, and 10 hours of battery life.
“We’ve stuck with the winning recipe of a premium device at non-premium prices, with a focus on family and entertainment,” said Antoine Dreyfus, head of Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire Tablets in the EU.
The microSD card slot can now accept higher capacity cards, for adding up to 400GB of extra storage for movies, TV shows and music.
The big change is the addition of Show Mode, which effectively turns the tablet into an Echo Show – Amazon’s dedicated £200 smart display with Alexa built in. Show Mode provides visual feedback for Alexa voice queries such as the weather, recipes or any other question, just like the Echo Show, designed to be seen from across the room.
With the new Fire HD 8 Amazon is also bringing its Show Mode Dock to the UK, which is a case for the tablet and a charging stand. The case clips around the tablet, locking into the microUSB charging port, and has magnets and charging pins on the back.
The tablet can then be placed on the charging stand, which snaps to the correct alignment using magnets, to automatically trigger Show Mode. The benefit of having a tablet become an Echo device with a screen is clear: you can take it with you.
“You can start watching a show on the tablet in Show Mode in the kitchen and then just pick the tablet up from the dock and move to room, the video will continue uninterrupted,” explained Dreyfus. “The same goes for video calls or other activities both into and out of the dock.”
The new Fire HD 8 tablet will cost £80 on its own or £110 with the Show Mode Dock, available for pre-order today and shipping on 4 October. A Kids edition of the Fire HD 8 is also available for £130 with a heavy duty rubber case, two-year replacement warranty and one-year subscription to Amazon’s Fire For Kids Unlimited, which will soon include Audible audiobooks for kids, such as Peter Pan.
The Show Mode Dock and case will also be available on their own for £40 for an 8in tablet and £50 for a 10in tablet at a later date, coinciding with a software update with Show Mode for the previous generation Fire HD 8 and current generation Fire HD 10 tablets.