Amazon's new Fire HD tablets have budget pricing, predictive content downloading
Amazon has announced its new Fire HD tablets, which come in two sizes and numerous colorful finishes. The hardware, which is thin and light, looks solid enough, but the real star here could be the extra features that the company has packed in, including an updated UI, quick reading software and On Deck – a background tool that keeps the tablet up to date with Prime content.
Amazon's tablets have always been about content delivery, and the new Fire HD 8 and 10 take this to the next level. The devices run on the new Fire OS 5 "Bellini", which is built on Android 5 Lollipop, but tweaked to put Amazon content front and center. The new software has an updated UI, with dedicated pages for books, games, apps and more.
There's also a new On Deck feature for Prime users, which is designed to intelligently download content without the user having to give it the manual go-ahead, as well as a new speed reading tool, known as Word Runner. It sounds a lot like Spritz.
The new Fire HD tablet comes in two sizes – with both the 8 and 10.1-inch variants featuring a mid-ranged (by today's standards) 1,280 x 800 resolution along with a 16:10 aspect ratio. The hardware looks simple and colorful, and according to the company's lab testing, is "almost 2x more durable" than the latest iPad Air. There's a quad core MediaTek processor powering things here, and the tablets are the thinnest that Amazon has ever made, measuring 7.7 mm (0.3 in) thick. At just 432 g (0.95 lbs) for the 10.1-in model and 311 g (0.69 oz) for the 8-incher, they're also light.
The 8-inch tablet is available with either 8 or 16 GB internal storage, while the larger device comes in 16 and 32 GB versions. Considering that the emphasis here is on media consumption, some of those numbers might seem a little low, but all variants do have microSD card slots for expansion up to 128 GB.
Elsewhere, there are dual stereo speakers, a 5MP camera around the back, and a front-facing shooter capable of capturing 720p video. Amazon rates the tablets for 8 hours of reading on a single charge.
The company will also ship a Bluetooth keyboard case for the Amazon Fire 10 on October 29. It has a protective shell, built-in full-size keyboard and a trackpad, and is priced at US$100.
The 8-inch device is available in black, magenta, blue and tangerine, starting at $150. The 10-inch variant starts at $230, and will ship in black and white. Most of the tablets are scheduled to start shipping on September 30, though you'll have to wait a little longer for the white 10-inch tablet, which is schedule to ship "in the coming weeks".