No one does cheap family tablets better than Amazon, and now that they’re little portable Alexa devices, they’re looking like even better values. Today, Amazon refreshed their Fire line of tablets with four options — regular and kid-friendly versions of their 7″ and 8″ Fire tablets. They’re still bare bones in terms of specs, but they’ll probably be good enough for coffee table tablets.
Everything here is under $130, which is a nice way of saying to temper your expectations. There’s nothing in the way of advanced design or tech — we’re still looking at pretty chunky bezels, although the addition of blue, red, and yellow color options injects a bit of life into Amazon’s tablets.
The basic option is the Fire 7 tablet. It has a 1.3 GHz quad-core CPU, 1.5 GB of RAM, 8 GB or 16 GB of storage, dual-band Wi-Fi, and about 8 hours of battery life. Nothing there is very exciting, but it’s all passable for a cheap entertainment tablet. The only real downer is the 1024 x 600 IPS display, which isn’t going to be great for watching videos. The single mono speaker is a disappointment for the same reason. But, at least you’ll be able to store more of those videos — the tablet now supports up to 256 GB microSD cards, instead of just 128 GB. The folio cover you see in the image above will be sold separately.
In addition to being a bit larger, the Fire HD 8 tablet is more attractive on the spec sheet. It has 16 GB and 32 GB storage options, along with a better 1280 x 800 IPS display and up to 12 hours of battery life. It’s also got dual stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos sound processing, so expect some pretty nice virtual surround sound effects with that improved display. Otherwise, it’s the same tablet as the smaller 7″ model.
Both of those tablets are Alexa-enabled, meaning they can be used just like an Amazon Echo device. So, in addition to voice searches, you’ll be able to take advantage of the Alexa Skills you’ve added to control smart home devices and services like streaming music players. You’ll also be able to take advantage of the visual search features enabled with the Echo Show, including search for videos on YouTube.
Amazon doesn’t have the most advanced tablets, but they do tend to be the most user-friendly and kid-friendly. Amazon has 24/7 support for their tablets, and they include the ability to share the screen with support staff easily. It’s hugely important if you plan to gift the tablets to a tech novice.
For kids, Amazon will sell both the Fire 7 and the Fire HD 8 in kids editions. These tablets will come with large rubberized bumpers that come in blue, pink, and yellow, plus one year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. FreeTime is Amazon’s curated collection of child-safe apps and games, ensuring that the kids always have age-appropriate content to play around with. Amazon is also continuing their habit of giving away two-year no questions asked warranties on their kids tablets — if your kid chucks the tablet down the staircase, Amazon will replace it without hesitation. And, in a shrewd move, Amazon took Alexa off the kids edition tablets, so you’ll never be surprised by a sudden delivery of seven large pizzas one evening.
All four tablets can be preordered now from Amazon. The Fire 7 costs $50 and the Fire HD 8 costs $80. The kids edition of both of those tablets cost $50 more. They’re all scheduled to ship out on June 7. And, because they’re so cheap, Amazon is offering a bulk deal — at launch, you can buy any three tablets and get 20 percent off the whole purchase.