Amazon has gradually been adding Alexa to its excellent tablets, but now it’s going all in, with the All-New Amazon Fire HD 8. This can do the usual tablet type duties we know and like, but also transform into a voice controlled, graphically rich Echo Show. Add Amazon’s new dock and it even looks kind of like an Echo Show, at glance.
You can order the HD8 now with shipping starting October 4.
The 2018 Fire HD 8 offers an 8-inch, full HD screen, 16Gb or 32GB of storage plus microSD up to 400MB, a quad-core processor and a 720p front-facing camera. Other than that it’s remarkabky similar to the previous model, with up to 10 hours of mixed use battery life and a more than reasonable price of just £79.99.
The killer feature though is Show Mode. Whereas normally the Fire HD 8 doubles up as an Echo device, this turns it into one, with screen offering extras such as lyrics to songs, recipe details, weather for the coming days, more in-depth sports results and video calling and, indeed, video in general.
Add the Show Mode Charging Dock (this will be £39.99 when it launches as a standalone but currently is a bundle option with the HD8 only, taking the price to £109.98).
The dock requires you to add a slim case to tablet so that when docked it can charge via induction. This also means that the Fire HD8 knows as soon as it is docked, and transforms into Show Mode.
“Last year, we introduced Alexa hands-free on the Fire HD 10 and customers love it – in fact, it’s our highest rated tablet in the UK,” boomed Eric Saarnio, Head of Amazon Devices, Europe, explaining my above point.
“We are excited to bring this always-available feature to the all-new Fire HD 8 and take the Alexa experience one step further by introducing Show Mode and the Show Mode Charging Dock. Simply place the Fire HD 8 into the dock for a more visual, full-screen Alexa experience – just ask Alexa to show trending news, see who is at the front door, view movie showtimes, get the weather, and more.”
The tablet + dock package is perhaps the most tempting and good-value Alexa offering to date. I did suggest to Amazon that it would spell the end of Echo Show but they reckon the Show’s superior mics and speaker means it will still appeal to some users.
As usual, there’s a kids’ version of the HD8. It comes with a year of access to Amazon Fire for Kids Unlimited, a 2-year, no quibbles guarantee and a blue, pink or yellow bumper case, all for £129.99.
Again, that’s a great deal. Kids Edition Tablets are now on about version 357, and the whole way they work – with an easy-to-use Parent Dashboard to control what your offspring can access, and the huge wealth of age-appropriate content on Fire for Kids – is by now, as you'd imagine, very slick. The tablet itself is exactly the same as the adults version, hardware-wise, and not a toy; only the software is 'childish'.
Amazon's own rundown of the HD8's highlights
• Vibrant 8-inch widescreen 1280 x 800 high definition display with over a million pixels for a bright, vivid picture.
• Quadcore 1.3 GHz processor and 1.5GB of RAM to quickly and easily switch between apps, stream movies, and browse the web.
• Up to 10 hours of reading, listening to music, watching TV shows or movies, browsing the web, and more.
• 16 GB or 32 GB of internal storage, plus support for up to 400 GB more via expandable storage. Now you can install apps to a microSD card so you can enjoy even more entertainment while on the go.
• Alexa hands-free—Just ask Alexa to play a song, pause a movie, call a friend or family member on their Echo device, Fire tablet or through the Alexa app, read an audiobook, answer a question, show your calendar, control your smart home, and more—using only your voice, even when the screen is on standby.
• Show Mode—A new, immersive experience for Fire tablets that provides full-screen visuals that complement voice responses from Alexa. Show Mode lets you ask Alexa to see trending news, weather, movies trailers, camera feeds, and more—all optimised for visibility across the room.
• 720p front-facing camera; 2MP rear-facing camera, unlimited cloud storage for all photos taken on Fire tablets at no additional cost.
• As measured in tumble tests, the all-new Fire HD 8 is 2x as durable as the iPad Mini 4.
• Dual stereo speakers optimised for Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Atmos for enhanced realism and dynamic range.
• Dual-band Wi-Fi with support for more Wi-Fi networks and seamless video streaming.
• Amazon-exclusive features: Alexa, ASAP, For You, X-Ray, Second Screen, Amazon Fire for Kids, Family Library, Blue Shade, On Deck, Prime Video downloads, and more.
• Access to millions of movies, TV shows, songs, books, magazines, apps, and games. Unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content at no additional cost.
• Screen Sharing: let an Amazon expert guide you remotely through any feature on your screen, 24/7, 365 days a year at no additional cost.