Amazon is continuing its recent string of hardware announcements by refreshing its tablet line, with design and power efficiency improvements made to the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 accompanied by Kids Edition models of both tablets, and the expansion of the Alexa voice assistant on the tablets from the United States to units shipped to the United Kingdom.
The $50 Fire 7 is claimed to have a "thinner and lighter design" surrounding an improved 7-inch 1024x600 IPS display boasting a higher contrast and sharper text than before. The battery life of the tablet has been extended compared to the previous model, now claimed to last for up to 8 hours of "mixed use."
The larger Fire HD 8 offers an 8-inch display, though still lower than Full HD with a resolution of 1280x800, but its extra size allows it to offer up to 12 hours of battery life. More notably, Amazon has cut the price of the bigger tablet, down from $90 to $80, making it a $30 upgrade from the smaller model.
Both tablets offer a quad-core 1.3GHz processor, dual-band Wi-Fi, VGA-resolution front and 2 megapixel rear cameras, and Alexa, with the digital assistant now available to use on the tablets in the United Kingdom for the first time. Alexa has been usable on US Fire tablets since October last year.
Amazon is also claiming both of the tablets are more durable compared to Apple devices in its own tumble tests. Both the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 are said to fare better in tests than the "latest iPad," and is twice as durable as the iPad mini 4.
The Kids Edition versions now covers both models of tablet, rather than just the Fire 7. As available previously, the Kids Edition devices are the same in terms of hardware to the standard models, except they are supplied with a protective case and a two-year "worry-free guarantee" where Amazon provides a replacement for damaged tablets, regardless of the cause.
Parental controls are also included in the Kids Edition, allowing adults to restrict the child's access to the internet to over 55,000 age-appropriate websites and YouTube videos. A year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited is also provided, offering books, videos, apps, and games at no additional cost, with the service priced at $2.99 per month after that initial period.
The Fire 7 Kids Edition is priced at $100, while the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is $130, with each representing a $50 price increase compared to the standard models. All four tablets are available to pre-order now, and are expected to start shipping on June 7.
Amazon continues to be one of the major vendors of tablets in the world, sitting in fourth place in global tablet shipments for the first quarter of 2017, according to IDC. Amazon captured a 6 percent market share on 2.2 million shipments in the quarter, though by contrast Apple is said to have a 24.6 percent share with 8.9 million shipments.
The tablet refresh is the latest in a number of announcements to come from the major retailer in the last few weeks. New products including the Echo Show and the Echo Look are expanding the Alexa-based device line, while reports are also suggesting Apple is finally going to bring its Prime Video service to the Apple TV this summer.