Amazon bumped up the specs on its low-cost tablet line today,
increasing the storage and RAM, and adding USB-C to its $89.99 Fire HD 8 tablet,
as well as offering a Fire HD 8 Plus with even more RAM.
All of these tablets run Amazon’s custom, Android-based OS
with Amazon’s own app store. They don’t have Google Play or Google’s services. Realistically,
that means they’re best for consuming Amazon’s content, basic web browsing, and
running popular video streaming services. That’s what most people use them for. We keep giving them Editors’ Choice awards because of their low price and easy user interfaces.
The new Fire HD 8 looks just like the previous model; it’s a
plastic-clad tablet with an 8-inch, 1,280-by-800 LCD screen. The upgrades are
inside: 2GB of RAM (up from 1.5GB), 32GB of storage plus a MicroSD card slot
(up from 16GB) and a 2GHz processor (up from 1.3GHz).
The new Fire HD 8 Plus in a wireless charging dock.
The Fire HD 8 Plus bumps the tablet up to 3GB of RAM and
adds wireless charging, for $20 more. It also includes a 9W (as opposed to 5W)
power adapter and six months of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited book service. In its wireless charging dock, it can act a lot like an Amazon Echo Show.
I’ve never been a convert to the value of wireless charging
as an added-cost feature, but I can see the argument for the added RAM. Amazon’s
tablets have suffered performance issues in the past because of a lack of RAM—the Fire 7 doesn’t run well, because it only has 1GB—and additional memory
will keep them running smoothly.
The Fire HD 8 costs $89.99 and comes in white, black, dark
blue, and plum. The HD 8 Plus comes in gray and costs $109.99. As always, if you
want to get rid of ads on the lock screen, it’ll cost you $15. Both go on
pre-order today and ship on June 3.
The Fire HD 8 Kids’ Edition, in purple.
As Amazon usually does, it has also created a kids’ bundle
for the new Fire HD 8, with a tough case, a two-year guarantee and a year of
the FreeTime Unlimited content service for $139.99.
Good Android tablets with Google Play tend to be a little
more expensive. Although there are low-quality, no-name tablets that cost less,
the current 8-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab A costs $149.99 at Best Buy, and the Lenovo
Tab M8 FHD costs $139.99. The least expensive iPad, of course, is $329.