As was expected, Amazon has just introduced an all-new Fire HD 8 tablet that replaces the previous model, which was released a little over a year ago. The new tablet is mostly identical to the previous model but comes with a couple of key upgrades. The new Fire HD 8 now supports hands-free Alexa that is always available, just like the flagship Fire HD 10 tablet. The new model also upgrades the front-facing camera to a 2 MP shooter that is capable of 720p video for much better video calling quality, compared to the previous model. Amazon has added these improvements while maintaining the same price of $79.99.
Compared to the outgoing Fire HD 8 model, this new model is a minor update to an already great tablet. The new Fire HD 8 still has a quad-core 1.3 GHz CPU with 1.5 GB of memory. It still has an 8-inch HD screen with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. Connectivity still includes dual-band 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth. Internal storage options are still 16GB or 32GB and there is still a micro SD card slot for up to 400GB of expandable storage that can be used for things like downloading Prime Videos for offline viewing.
Around the back there is still 2 MP camera but Amazon has upgraded the front-facing camera from a measly 0.3 MP shooter on the previous model to a 2 MP camera that can shoot 720P video on the new model. The decision to update the front camera was clearly made to improve the tablets video calling capabilities, since it fully supports calling and messaging through Alexa.
Speaking of Alexa, the new Fire HD 8 makes improvements in that regard as well. The previous model launched with Alexa, but you had to hold down the tablet’s home button to make requests. Amazon later updated the tablet to support hands-free Alexa, but because it only worked if the tablet was plugged in or if the screen was already on. The new Fire HD 8 announced today supports hands-free Alexa that is always available, regardless of whether the screen is on or not, or if the tablet is plugged in.
The addition of always listening hands-free Alexa does to take a toll on battery life because Amazon says the new Fire HD 8 can last up to 10 hours, while the previous model lasted up to 12 hours. However, if you’re concerned about the reduced battery life, the hands-free Alexa feature can be disabled to restore the battery life back up to 12 hours.
The new Fire HD 8 tablet is available to pre-order today and will be released on October 4th. It’s available with 16GB of internal storage for $79.99 in black, yellow, blue, and red. If you want double the internal storage, the 32GB model costs $109.99 and is available in the same black, yellow, blue, and red colors. Also available is a Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet for $129.99 that combines the new tablet with a 2-year replacement guarantee, a 1-year Amazon FreeTime subscription, and a kid-friendly protective case.
Since the new Fire HD 8 shares the same body as the previous model, it is compatible with the Show Mode Dock that was released a few months ago. The dock essentially turns the tablet into an Amazon Echo Show by automatically switching to a full screen Alexa interface when docked. The Show Mode Dock is $39.99 on its own, but Amazon is running an introductory offer that bundles the new tablet and dock for $94.99, which saves you $25 versus buying the dock and tablet separately.