Amazon's newest Fire HD 8 tablet offers always-on Alexa

Isaac Cain
September 9, 2018

While the both the Fire HD 8 tablets look exactly similar, the color of the hardware buttons on the 2018 variant now matches with the body. Alexa was available on the tablet in the past, though it didn't include hands-free activation.

"Fire HD 10 customers love having easy, hands-free access with Alexa and we're excited to bring that same experience to the all-new Fire HD 8", Amazon Devices VP Kevin Keith said in a statement.

Amazon has updated the Fire For Kids interface to make it more intuitive and - soon - will add audiobooks so you no longer have to add them manually from your own Audible subscription.

The revamped Fire HD 8 will begin shipping October 4.

Other tech highlights include a 1.3Ghz quad-core processor, 16Gb or 32Gb of internal storage that can be expanded to 400Gb with a microSD card, HD 720p front-facing camera and up to 10 hours' battery life. While it's great to see Alexa get deeper integration into the tablet, it comes at a battery cost - which is why the battery has been shorn two hours, when compared to the 2017 model.

Amazon has seen huge success with its popular Fire tablets and that's probably no surprise considering they offer good performance and decent features at a relatively low price. Show Mode provides visual feedback for Alexa voice queries such as the weather, recipes or any other question, just like the Echo Show, created to be seen from across the room. It also automatically loads up Show Mode when you put the tablet in place. Purchased separately, the duo would cost $119.98, so this bundle saves you $25.

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You can ask Alexa questions about the weather or the sports scores and the tablet screen will react accordingly, even if it's locked. It'll go on sale on 4 October and it's up for pre-order now for £79.99 or £109.98 as a bundle with a charging dock. Amazon also includes Dolby Atmos audio, dual-band WiFi, and claims the tablet is twice as durable as an iPad mini 4.

Amazon's FreeTime Unlimited feature is created to help parents manage a child's tablet, limiting the amount of time spent on the device and access to specific types of content.

Coming to the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, the latest tablet comes with a year of free Amazon FreeTime Unlimited service.

"Amazon-exclusive" features with the Fire tablet are Alexa, ASAP, For You, X-Ray, Second Screen, Amazon FreeTime, Family Library, Blue Shade, On Deck, and Prime Video downloads, added the company.

Last, but not least, Amazon announced it now offers FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited in Spanish.

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