Amazon has been in the news recently for its Alexa and Echo devices, and now, it is in news for its least-expensive tablets. The e-commerce giant gave a modest refresh to its Fire tablet line and announced a new Kids Edition of its Fire HD 8.
What’s new in Fire tablets?
Amazon announced today that the Fire 7 is now thinner and lighter and comes with an improved display with respect to contrast and clearer text. The device also gets an extra hour of battery life, new colors and support for higher-speed wireless connectivity. The tablet is about 10% thinner than its predecessor, and the battery life has been increased from seven hours to eight hours, compared to 10 hours for the iPad and 12 hours for the 8-inch Fire HD tablet.
Though there are no big changes in the Fire HD 8, it now costs $10 less (from $89.99 to $79.99). The price for the Fire 7 has been kept the same at $49.99. Preorders start today, and shipments start June 7. The e-commerce giant said that as of now, it has nothing to announce about the Fire HD 10, but it confirmed plans to continue selling the device in the future.
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For the first time, Amazon is expanding its Kids Edition variant with the Fire HD 8. Previously, the company offered only a Fire 7 Kids Edition for $99.99. The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition costs $129.99 and comes with one free year of FreeTime Unlimited and a free two-year “worry free” guarantee, allowing buyers to replace the tablet irrespective of the type of damage, notes The Verge. If purchased separately, FreeTime Unlimited is a $2.99 per month subscription service.
Amazon focusing more on hardware
With the update, the Alexa voice assistant now comes to all Fire tablets in the U.K. This marks the first major expansion of the service since its U.S.-only launch in October. The new tablets will come with the newest version of Alexa preloaded right out of the box, while older devices in the U.K. will get it via an over-the-air software update. Earlier this year, the company added Alexa support to the Fire TV set-top box in the U.K.
Though the overall tablet market has slowed, the e-commerce giant says it is still witnessing growth in the segment. According to Kevin Keith, the manager in charge of the unit, Amazon posted double-digit tablet growth in the U.S. last year. In the fourth quarter of last year, the e-commerce giant held 10% of the tablet market, compared to Apple’s 25%. Amazon is in third place in the global tablet market after Apple and Samsung. During the quarter, the online retailer shipped more than 5 million tablets, according to market researcher IDC.
This is Amazon’s third major hardware refresh in two months. Last month, the company showcased the Echo Look camera, which uses artificial intelligence to make fashion suggestions to users. A few weeks ago, the e-commerce giant showcased the much-anticipated Echo Show, an Alexa speaker with a large touchscreen. A few days ago, the company revealed that it will start shipping televisions running its Fire OS software next month.