Amazon’s flagship Fire tablet is getting the display fans have been calling for next month — and a much lower price. The company said today that its new Fire HD 10 tablet will come with a 10.1-inch, 1080p display, making it the first Amazon tablet to have a display of that caliber since the Fire HDX in 2013. Pricing for the tablet starts at $150, or $80 less than the previous entry-level price of $230. The new Fire HD 10 starts shipping the week of Oct. 11th.
The new Fire HD 10 has received improved components across the board. The tablet will run on a quad-core processor for the first time, improving the tablet’s speed by 30 percent, Amazon says. Average battery life has improved from eight hours to 10. Dual speakers have Dolby Atmos support. And it has 32GB of storage in the entry-level model, up from 16GB for the previous edition. (As before, a micro-SD card slot lets you expand storage by up to 256GB. A 64GB model is also available.)
The Fire tablet runs a modified version of Android that Amazon has bolstered with a handful of nice, company-specific features. The first, called “For You,” is a kind of dynamic app launcher that you access from the home screen. Swipe right and you’ll see icons representing the last thing you did on the device, whether it’s the book you were reading, the movie you were watching, or the music you were listening to. Other recent activities appear below.
As you scroll down, you’ll see “Try this next,” which suggests apps books, movies, TV shows, and other items to buy — from Amazon, of course. The final module ties into the Prime Photos app, and can show you recently taken photos, Timehop-style “on this day a year ago” photos, and more. But the main point of the screen is to dissolve the boundaries between the home screen and the Amazon store, and I suspect it will be an effective way of getting users to spend more money in the app.
The second new feature in the operating system is hands-free Alexa, which you can turn off and on using a control panel. (You might want to turn it off if you have another Alexa-enabled device nearby, so as to avoid duplicate actions.) When it’s enabled, hands-free Alexa makes the tablet work just like any other Echo device — it can turn lights off, start movies, set timers, and so on. Thanks to the Echo Show, many Alexa commands now take advantage of the Fire HD’s screen — showing the time remaining in a timer, for example, or showing the box score of a baseball game when you ask who won last night.
The Fire HD 10 will come in black, blue, and red, with optional covers costing an extra $40. The base price also comes with “special offers,” which is what Amazon calls ads, and you can remove them from the device for a one-time fee of $15.
If you’re used to using an iPad, you may not be impressed with the plasticky, relatively heavy feel of the Fire tablet. (A full review is forthcoming.) But if you’re looking for a full-powered tablet at a low price, the new Fire tablet could be worth a look.