Amazonâ€™s flagship Fire tablet is getting the display fans have been calling for next month â€” 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 (that Amazon wonâ€™t specify). 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 â€œFor You,â€ is a kind of dynamic app launcher that you access from the home screen. Swipe right and youâ€™ll see icons representing the last thing you did on the device, whether itâ€™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, youâ€™ll see â€œTry this next,â€ which suggests apps books, movies, TV shows, and other items to buy â€” from Amazon, of course. The final module ties into the Prime Photos app, and can show you recently taken photos, Timehop-style â€œon this day a year agoâ€ 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 itâ€™s enabled, hands-free Alexa makes the tablet work just like any other Echo device â€” 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 HDâ€™s screen â€” 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 â€œspecial offers,â€ which is what Amazon calls ads, and you can remove them from the device for a one-time fee of $15.
If youâ€™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 youâ€™re looking for a full-powered tablet at a low price, the new Fire tablet could be worth a look.
Correction, 11:46 a.m.: This article originally said the new Fire tablet was the first to run on a quad-core processor. The previous tablet also used a quad-core processor.