Amazon has refreshed its $89 Fire HD 8 tablet, bringing Alexa functionality to the device along with a slew of spec upgrades. You can now interact with Amazon's voice assistant to control media playback, launch apps and games, check the weather, set a reminder, find news, and more.
As for the specs, the Fire HD 8 has the same 8-inch 1200 x 800 display as last year's model, but you now get 1.5GB of RAM, double the storage at 16GB or 32GB, and a larger 4750mAh battery that can last up to 12 hours on a full charge. The tablet is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core CPU, and will be available in Black, Magenta, Blue, and Tangerine color options. There's also a 2MP camera at the back that lets you record 720p video, a VGA front camera, and dual-band Wi-Fi.
The Alexa experience on the Fire HD 8 won't be as seamless as that on an Echo as the tablet doesn't have an always-on listening mode, but by bringing the voice assistant to its budget tablets, Amazon gets to significantly widen Alexa's userbase and enhance its AI smarts. Amazon has mentioned that the 2015 Fire HD 8, the $50 Fire, and Fire HD 10 tablets will receive Alexa functionality with an upcoming software update to Fire OS 5 in the coming months.
The all-new Fire HD 8 is now up for pre-order, with the 16GB model retailing for $89 and the 32GB version for $119. That's for the editions with lock screen ads. If you don't want to see ads, you'll have to shell out $104 and $134 respectively. Amazon will commence shipping on September 21.