Amazon is refreshing its 8-inch tablets for the first time in two years, but its biggest improvement might be in the software. The company has presented new Fire HD 8 models which introduce a “Tap for Alexa” function. You can not only control the assistant exclusively by touch, but also pair it with a compatible Bluetooth switch or use text-to-speech to have commands spoken to you. This is particularly useful for people with speech and mobility disabilities, but could also be useful if you just don’t want to talk (for example, to avoid waking your baby).
There are some significant hardware upgrades. Amazon claims 30 percent faster performance through a new six-core processor, and the design is advertised as thinner, lighter, and more durable than its predecessor. You can also expect a slightly longer 13-hour battery life. It’s limited to 2GB of RAM and wired charging on the base model, but an upgraded Fire HD 8 Plus (pictured above) bumps it up to 3GB of RAM while adding wireless charging, faster wired charging, and a 2.5-inch camera. five megapixels of higher quality. .
Don’t expect dramatic improvements in other areas. The 2022 Fire HD 8 starts at $100 with the same 32GB of storage (thankfully expandable) and tops out at 64GB. You’ll pay $120 for the 32GB Plus model, which also has a 64GB option. You don’t need to buy one to get Tap to Alexa, at least. Amazon is making the feature available today for 8th-generation or newer Fire tablets in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan.
However, parents may appreciate the expanded selection for children. The Fire HD 8 Kids includes the well-known two-year “worry-free” warranty, one-year Kids+ subscription, and rugged case for $150, but there are now Disney Princess and Mickey Mouse-themed variants for $160. You can also purchase a $150 Kids Pro tablet (shown in the middle) for ages 6-12 that provides parent-controlled store access in addition to the other benefits of the Kids edition. As in the past, these can represent best value: you can give youngsters a tablet that will hopefully survive years of rough use.
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