Amazon is launching two new Fire HD tablets — an 8-inch model for $US149.99 and a 10-inch model for $US229.99 — that it says are thinner and faster than any device it has released before. The smaller version comes in a fun variety of colours (black, blue, magenta, or orange), while the larger tablet comes in either black or white.
Business Insider / Jillian D’Onfro
Design and Display
The new tablets have tough, Gorilla glass screens, which means they’re resistant to scratches or cracks, and you can drop the tablets from up to a meter without worrying about them shattering.
Amazon also puts its devices through tests where it plops them in a tumbler with other random objects to simulate being stuffed in a bag. At a demo meeting, Amazon showed off one of its tablets that had gone through the cycle compared to an iPad Air that had done the same thing: The latter had a significantly cracked screen, while the Fire tablet didn’t.
Amazon says the display on the new tablets has less glare than its last model, and both tablets use widescreen video viewing ratios that will use every inch of the front real estate. At 7.7 mm thick, these are the slimmest models Amazon has ever made and the larger HD 10 weighs less than the latest iPad Air (which clocks in at 9.4-inches and 469 grams, versus 10-inches and 432 grams).
For the first time, Amazon also included a microSD card slot, so you can add up to 128 GB of additional storage. The company says that one of the biggest Fire tablet use-cases is downloading movies or TV shows to watch on trips (Prime customers can download any streaming videos for offline viewing), hence the benefit of expandable capacity.
There’s also a neat software feature called “On Deck” which automatically keeps a few shows or movies on your tablet, in case you forget to download any before your next flight. This feature won’t work if you don’t have enough memory available, but it does clear out the “on deck” material if you download other content (the idea is that you’ll never know the content is there, until you would otherwise be cursing yourself for forgetting to stock up on material).
What’s On The Inside
Both new tablets have a quad-core processor and a battery that will last up to 8 hours, even when you’re reading, watching videos, and listening to music.
Plus, the tablets are running an updated version of Amazon’s operating-system, a forked version of Android Lollipop that the company is calling Fire OS 5 “Bellini.” Amazon says Bellini is its biggest OS overhaul ever, thanks to a new user-interface that bunches content into categories, so you can swipe between pages for video, games, music, books, etc.
More than ever before, the tablet makes it easy to see a bunch of recommended Amazon content that you can buy (or likely stream or listen to it for free, if you’re an Amazon Prime customer).
Both Fire HD tablets also come with “Amazon Underground,” a service the company quietly released a few weeks ago which gives users a bunch of apps that are totally free, because Amazon has subsidized both the initial cost and any in-app purchases that would otherwise exist (check out which apps are included here).
Amazon’s goal with these tablets is to provide a high-end experience for significantly less than you’d pay for an Apple-made product. Although iPad loyalists won’t be convinced by the couple hundred bucks knocked off the price tag, Amazon’s new Fire HD tablets are durable and particularly attractive for people who already pay $US99 for Amazon’s membership club, Prime, since that content gets integrated so seamlessly.
Both devices are available for pre-order today, and will begin shipping at the end of September.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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