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3 days ago

The new Amazon Fire HD 8 is still the best tablet for kids


I love my kids. But they're going to break things. Expensive things. So I don't buy them expensive things.

Sure, grown-ups love their tech. But as we all know too well, so do our kids. And while I'd love for mine to always have the latest and greatest, the fact is that's just a bad idea. My kid doesn't need a $1,000 tablet. Or even a $500 tablet, for that matter. So where to turn?

The Amazon Fire HD 8. We've had the 2016 model in my house since, well, since 2016. And now we have an updated model, starting at $79. That's with 16GB of storage and "special offers" — which means ads on the lock screen and notification pull-down. (What's crazy is that they don't really bother me that much.) The specs won't blow anyone out of the water, but it's still a pretty capable Android tablet. It's got access to Amazon's Appstore, so it has tons of books and videos and games on hand.

But most important is that if and when it gets dropped, you're not going to take out a second mortgage to replace it.

This is the only tablet I'd buy my kids at this point.

See at Amazon

Modern Dad

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4 days ago

The Galaxy Tab S3 is now available in India for ₹47,990


The Galaxy Tab S3 goes up sale in India for ₹47,990 ($745).

The Galaxy Tab S3 is the best Android tablet currently available, and starting today, Indian customers will be able to get their hands on the tablet.

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1 week ago

New Amazon Fire 7 is a modest upgrade and still a top cheap tablet


Amazon's latest revision to its cheapest tablet is definitely the best it has ever been.

That the 'all-new' Amazon Fire 7 would be a good, cheap tablet was probably never up for debate. We've been recommending its predecessor for some time because you can actually spend just $50 and get a good tablet.

That hasn't always been true of the Android hardware ecosystem, and the Fire 7 is still probably unique in its recommendation at that price point.

So, Amazon made it a little bit better and kept the price the same. It's a modest upgrade, but an upgrade nevertheless, though whether you should ditch your old one is a tougher question to answer.

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1 week ago

Google needs to build a Chrome tablet


Developers needs the right tool to get their products ready for the future of computing, and Google is the company that needs to build it.

Many people reading this will have paid at least a passing interest to Apple's WWDC 2017 announcements. Among all the hyperbole and salesmanship in the keynote address there was one thing that became clear: the iPad is closer than ever to the only "computer" most of us need. Apple is serious about making a tablet that's productive but simple to use, and this is going to evolve into the standard for regular consumers. At least Apple thinks so, and it's probably right.

That means Google needs to get on board and help define the future of this new-but-not-really-new thing. The good news is that it has a helluva head start with Chrome OS.

The software on a Chromebook is a good starting point for a next generation operating system.

A lot of people will disagree, but chances are a decent Chromebook is the only computer you need. Sure, content creators will need something with extra horsepower and the software tools to work with, but for the computer you buy for goofing around at home or doing your school work a Chromebook will probably work out fine. Hell, I spend most of my work week in front of one because I have everything I need and it's set up the way I like it. Chromebooks are great for the now but need some adjustment to be ready for the future.

Chrome already works on a tablet. Mostly. We know this because so many Chromebooks can be flipped around and turned into one. I still think my little Chromebook Flip is the best Android tablet you can buy because it has every app you need from Google Play and a real web browser. But it's thick and clunky to use as a tablet and some of the Chrome apps don't work as well with a touch interface as they need to. And let's be honest, the display isn't on par with a good tablet from Samsung or even the Pixel C. But the core experiences — a touch interface that works and an on-display keyboard — are in place and usable.

It's easy to take what we have now in the Chromebook Flip (or any other convertible Chromebook) and turn it into something better. We know it's easy because Microsoft and Apple are doing it and a device that attaches to a keyboard isn't a new idea. The Transformer series of tablets from ASUS is a great example of that. Hardware isn't an issue, though money probably is.

The company who can build a good Chrome tablet needs to be able to lose money on it. That means Google.

A good tablet isn't cheap to build, and that makes it expensive when it gets put on a shelf. The Galaxy Tab S3 or the latest iPad isn't priced the way it is just because. And, to be honest, people who will be willing to adopt a "new way to computer" aren't going to be satisfied with anything less. A good great 10-inch display with a high resolution, a decent processor and enough memory to hold a bunch of apps and web apps, and at least 128GBs worth of storage, is the minimum for a device that's supposed to make us all give up our real laptops. And make sure it has a decent keyboard and a sturdy way to attach it.

Samsung's not going to build this. It shouldn't because Android on a tablet isn't good enough to justify the price, but Chrome might be. At least when the Android runtimes are sorted and Android 8.0 becomes a thing and applications work better than they do now. The software needs to be sorted before it makes any sense to build an expensive Chrome tablet. That means Google needs to build it so there is real hardware to use when sorting out the new software.

It turns out that developers weren't willing to spend the time and money to make tablet apps for Android.

Google can afford to be that loss leader for a "new" hardware category. It's done it numerous times and tried to do it for Android tablets. While it worked for Android TV or Android Wear (mostly) it failed for the tablet because of the software. Developers don't have to do anything for their app to work on a tablet, but there's a difference between just working and working well. Making a great tablet app takes extra time and money that few companies are willing to invest. It's hard enough to make money with an app for a phone, let alone spending more to build an interface for a much smaller tablet market. It seems like Google expected developers to just do it, and it was wrong.

That's why Google now has to try and fix it. On a 10-inch screen, multiple apps doing their thing at the same time is pretty standard. Android 7 introduced new ways for developers to make things better in this situation, and Android 8 is going to help us use apps that weren't updated. Things won't be perfect, but they will be better and help the people making new apps see what they can do to cover both the small screen on a phone and the big screen on a tablet. Since Android apps run native in Chrome, everything a developer does also will apply here.

I still think we'll eventually see a single OS from Google that scales with the display and type of user input. You can call that Andromeda or Fuchsia or whatever you like. But to get there, Google needs to get started now so developers can be ready. With a Chrome tablet, we all can get started and whatever the future of Google's operating systems is, it will be better because developers are ready for it, too.

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2 weeks ago

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 currently on sale for $499, keyboard cover just $65


This is a steep discount, and we don't know how long it'll be around.

Samsung's new Galaxy Tab S3 hasn't been out for long, but there's a big sale on right now across multiple retailers that has dropped its price to $499 (or a tad less in some cases). Amazon, Best Buy, Samsung and more all have the Galaxy Tab S3 for at least $100 off the original price, with Amazon posting the lowest price at $491.22.

Adding to the fun, Samsung has also cut the price of the keyboard cover in half to a far more manageable $65. That means you could pick up the tablet and keyboard for just $556 ... which we have to say is a great deal.

See at Amazon
See at Best Buy
See at Samsung

As one of the only high-end Android tablets that's actually new, many may be taking a look at the Galaxy Tab S3 at this new lower price. At an original price of $729 for the tablet and keyboard it was a tough sell for many, but this may get it down into the range where it's easier to justify picking one up.

More: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 review

Though the Galaxy Tab S3 isn't perfect, it's a really solid big tablet that offers good hardware, a great screen, some nice tablet software features from Samsung and a respectable keyboard case. We have no idea how long this deal will be around, but considering it's available across so many retailers it seems as though Samsung is trying to make a nice early-summer push with its newest tablet.

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2 weeks ago

Best Android Tablet Under $100

Best Overall

Amazon Fire HD 8

See at Amazon

Amazon has pretty much nailed what it takes to make a good, low-cost tablet. It's been doing it for a while and what you get in the latest Fire HD 8 is pound-for-pound the best tablet around for less than $100.

It's got a decent screen, all the content you could wish for, Alexa, and enough power even to push some of the latest games. You don't have Google Play, but Amazon's Appstore is much better than in years past.

Bottom line: You can't do better below $100.

One more thing: You can only get the 16GB version for under $100, but it has microSD expansion.

Why the Amazon Fire HD 8 is the best

Not having the Google Play Store is no longer a reason not to recommend Amazon's tablets. The truth is that while some apps, namely Google's, will be missing, for most buying a cheap tablet it's not the end of the world.

Amazon is the best reason not to avoid cheap tablets anymore.

Amazon has cornered the market for affordable tablets with a focus on consumption. Its own services are front and center, of course, but you'll also find the other big services there to add to your tablet.

You're also getting pretty good hardware given the price. The 1280x800 display looks pretty good, 16GB of internal storage is OK but you can also slap in a massive microSD card and expand that by a lot. You're also looking at around 12-hours 'mixed use' battery life and a tablet that's strong enough to take a tumble or two.

It used to be the case that we'd warn you to stay well clear of cheap Android tablets. Amazon is the best reason that no longer applies.

Best for kids

Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition

See at Amazon

Beneath the giant, tough as boots case, this is basically a regular 7-inch Amazon Fire tablet. So why is it twice the price? You're getting double the base model's internal storage, that special kid-friendly case, and one heck of a warranty.

With the Kids Edition comes a two-year warranty where you can literally just cash in for a new one if your kid breaks it. No questions asked. That alone is worth the extra cost. That and the year of Freetime included to give the little ones some great, targeted content.

Bottom line: Everything that's good about the regular Fire tablet but with added kid-friendly bonuses

One more thing: The latest model supports expanded storage up to 256GB and dual-band WiFi.

A dual-booting alternative

Chuwi Hi8 Pro

See at Amazon

This brand you may never have heard of has produced an excellent, low-cost Android tablet that's also a Windows 10 tablet. It also has a 1920x1200 resolution 8-inch display, USB-C charging and a pretty capable Intel Atom x5 processor.

The Android part of this tablet may well fare worse when it comes to updates than the Windows portion, but there's a lot in this package for less than $100. The hardware is basically unrivaled at this price point, and it can be a little PC, too.

Bottom line: Half Windows, half Android, all great, budget tablet.

One more thing: The official keyboard case is also very affordable and can give you a mini laptop on the go.


It used to be the case that buying a cheap Android tablet was a bad thing to do. Thanks to Amazon, that's no longer the case. The best offering is the 8-inch, but you've also got smaller and larger versions, as well as those targeted at providing a great experience for your kids. It's hard to go wrong.

Best Overall

Amazon Fire HD 8

See at Amazon

Amazon has pretty much nailed what it takes to make a good, low-cost tablet. It's been doing it for a while and what you get in the latest Fire HD 8 is pound-for-pound the best tablet around for less than $100.

It's got a decent screen, all the content you could wish for, Alexa, and enough power even to push some of the latest games. You don't have Google Play, but Amazon's Appstore is much better than in years past.

Bottom line: You can't do better below $100.

One more thing: You can only get the 16GB version for under $100, but it has microSD expansion.

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3 weeks ago

Best Android Tablets of 2017

Update, May 2017: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 remains the best Android tablet you can buy right now.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

See at Best Buy

The two most important things to have in a full-size Android tablet are a great screen and software that uses every inch of it. That's what makes the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 the best Android tablet.

An amazing screen from Samsung is no surprise. The 9.7-inch 2048x1536 Super AMOLED on the Tab S3 carries on the tradition, and it's simply the best display on a tablet. Android and Samsung mesh to provide a great software experience and the new S Pen and its 4096-level pressure sensitivity makes taking notes or producing digital artwork a breeze.

Bottom line: The Galaxy Tab S3 is the best tablet Samsung has ever made, as well as the best Android Tablet you can buy.

One more thing: The internal hardware is also top notch and will keep up with everything you would want to do.

Why the Galaxy Tab S3 is the best

It's exactly what we want from a tablet.

In 2017, a tablet is no longer just a bigger version of a phone. They have to pull extra duty and be a media player, a book reader, a web browser, and a work tool without any complaints or complications. Some tablets are great at some of these things, but the Tabs S3 is great at all of them.

Working, whether it's on a presentation for your boss or a paper for your professor, is very different on a tablet than it is on a more conventional computer. Apps are designed to be more simple and easy to use with a touch screen, while omitting many of the battery-hungry features you would find in their desktop counterparts. The biggest hurdle has always been finding a way to organize the things you're doing on your screen while you're doing them. Samsung has had this figured out for a while and with the debut of native features with Android Nougat, you'll be able to run your apps just how you like to run them.

The S Pen takes things over the top. A tablet with a wonderful screen, a custom-fit keyboard and cover, and powerful hardware is made better with a fully capable digital pen. The excellent Wacom integration makes taking notes or using photoshop a fluid and enjoyable experience that you won't find with any other tablet on the market.

Budget power

NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1

See at Amazon

The Shield Tablet is a gaming powerhouse featuring NVIDIA's cutting-edge 2.2 GHz Tegra K1 processor, but the Shield Tablet's software is what really sets it apart. Built right into the notification tray, for example, is the ability to stream what's on your screen to Twitch. Remote access software combined with the optional hardware gamepad allow you to play games that are running on your PC.

Alternatively, the GeForce Now cloud gaming service lets you do the same with games and computers hosted by NVIDIA. You really can have a great AAA gaming experience on a tablet.

Bottom line: Even for those that aren't hardcore gamers, the NVIDIA Shield Tablet is a powerful tablet and offers excellent value for the price.

One more thing: The Shield Tablet has also been updated to Android 7.0, so you'll have some of the same software benefits as our top pick!

For the enthusiast

Pixel C

See at Google

We liked the Pixel C when it first arrived at the end of 2015. We thought the design was striking and the NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor handled everything well. We really loved the crisp display and thought the package represented the Pixel brand very well. It reached its full potential with Android 7.0 and the native multi-window display feature.

Enthusiasts will love the Pixel C because the hardware is open and unlockable. Third-party Android builds or Linux builds or something nobody has thought of yet can be flashed to the tablet with no worries and the path back is as easy as downloading the software from Google.

Bottom line: The community will continue support for the Pixel C long after it officially ends because of its open hardware and bootloader.

One more thing: Because this is a Google hardware product, the Pixel C will be among the first Android tablets to be updated with new features.


Like most things, there is no one Android tablet that's right for everyone. That's one of the big reasons Google was able to break Apple's dominance in mobile computing — it offers a choice for just about everyone. Whether you want the stylish look and thin profile of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 or the high-powered yet low-priced NVIDIA Shield K1 — or anything in between — someone is making a tablet that will work for you.

Our pick with the Galaxy Tab S3 is tough to beat. Great construction, an awesome screen, and Samsung's unique S Pen experience put it at the top of our list.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

See at Best Buy

The two most important things to have in a full-size Android tablet are a great screen and software that uses every inch of it. That's what makes the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 the best Android tablet.

An amazing screen from Samsung is no surprise. The 9.7-inch 2048x1536 Super AMOLED on the Tab S3 carrys on the tradition, and it's simply the best display on a tablet. Android and Samsung mesh to provide a great software experience and the new S Pen and its 4096-level pressure sensitivity makes taking notes or producing digital artwork a breeze.

Bottom line: The Galaxy Tab S3 is the best tablet Samsung has ever made, as well as the best Android Tablet you can buy.

One more thing: The internal hardware is also top notch and will keep up with everything you would want to do.

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3 weeks ago

ASUS ZenPad 3s 8.0 hands-on

ASUS ZenPad 3s 8.0

ASUS hasn't given up on Android tablets — its latest ZenPad looks like a decent metal-clad slate, though you'll need have to contend with the company's typically odd software UI.

Once upon a time it seemed like everyone wanted to release a cheap, small Android tablet. But unspectacular tablet sales — in part fuelled by the rise of larger phones — has cooled enthusiasm for the form factor among device makers. Nevertheless, Taiwanese manufacturer ASUS continues to push out Android tablets; its latest, the ZenPad 8s 8.0, wasn't included in its glitzy Computex press conference, but it was on display on the show floor in Taipei this week.

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1 month ago

Amazon Fire 7 vs Fire HD 8: Which should you buy?


In the battle of Amazon's all new tablets, which is the right one for you?

Amazon's latest revisions to its 7 and 8-inch Fire tablets will go on sale in early June 2017. They will completely replace the older models, and while both are modest upgrades, they're upgrades nonetheless.

And better still, while the hardware gets a little bit better, the price stays the same. So, once again Amazon has two affordable tablets that are actually worth buying. But which should you go for?

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1 month ago

T-Mobile Digits is coming May 31: What is it, and should you use it?


T-Mobile's Digits brings phone calls and texts into the 21st century, but at a time when people care little about those things, will it make a difference?

Back in December, T-Mobile unveiled a new service called Digits, making phone numbers less reliant on a SIM card, and expanding the simple phone number into the smartphone age.

Now that service is live and available to all T-Mobile customers for free on May 31. It's a re-imagining of the phone number, but it's also a way to entice more people to sign up to more expensive T-Mobile One plans.

And for all of its big talk, Digits is a bit confusing, so let's break it down.

What is Digits?

At its core, Digits is T-Mobile's way of utilizing its new IMS (IP Media Subsystem) backend to dynamically direct calls to any device, or store multiple numbers on a single device.

Basically, without the technical mumbo jumbo, it's a way to free the phone number from its legacy place, and to utilize the flexibility data-based nature of Voice over LTE and Voice of Wi-Fi to allow a call to take place, or to be received, in the most convenient place. This is very similar to Google Voice, and to many other Voice over IP services like Viber and Skype, but T-Mobile has one major advantage: it owns the network, and it distributes the phones.

So what can Digits really do for me?

Provided you're on one of T-Mobile's compatible postpaid plans (yes, this is yet another way for T-Mobile to upsell you), Digits can make it easier to manage phone calls in the increasingly inevitable situation you have multiple devices.

The basic idea is that if you receive a call on your traditional T-Mobile number, your phone should ring, along with any device — another phone, a computer, a tablet, even a connected smartwatch — at the same time. You can also make calls from any of those same devices without your phone nearby, and without the need to have a SIM card.

A secondary but for many people equally important feature is the ability to have more than one number available on a single device. So instead of having separate personal and work phones, you can have a single smartphone make and receive calls from two or more numbers.

This sounds a lot like Google Voice

Yes, it does. The major difference here is that T-Mobile is committing to a couple of things that even Google, which creates both Android and Google Voice, can't do:

  • It is integrating Digits directly into the Android phones it sells, working with manufacturers like Samsung to seamlessly add Digits support into devices like the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S7 and Gear S3.
  • It is making it easy to do so-called "SIM replication," which allows you to duplicate a phone number onto a second device, such as another smartphone or a connected smartwatch.

This is in addition to the Google Voice-like Digits app that's available for Android and iOS, to make and receive calls and texts from any device, anywhere. There's also a Digits portal on the web for people who sit in front of a computer all day and want to be able to initiate communications that way. And because the app is available natively and through an app, devices with SIM cards from AT&T, Verizon or Sprint — any carrier, really — can access Digits messages. If you lose your phone, for instance, you can download the Digits app onto a friend's device and make and receive calls and texts from there, too.

Like many cross-platform messaging services, call logs and messages also sync in real-time between devices, which is a huge boon to productivity if you don't always have your phone in front of you.

It's tailor-made for Android

Android is the only platform on which T-Mobile can rely to help Digits grow.

Digits is a cross-platform play, sure, but it is tailor-made for Android. Not only does iOS have its own cross-device communications protocol in iMessage, which may mess with Digits' ability to route texts, but Apple doesn't allow for any system-level alterations, rendering one of Digits' primary use cases moot.

Indeed, Android is the only platform on which T-Mobile can rely to help Digits proliferate, but by potentially limiting half of the population to merely an app-based experience, it is almost immediately cut off at the proverbial knees. Still, Digits has a five-device limit, and can easily be tuned to be used on an iPhone or iPad, especially since as of iOS 10 VoIP apps can take over the lock screen like a regular dialer.

The best Digits experience will always be on Android, and initially is only natively available on the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Samsung Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6 edge+, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy Note 5, or LG G5 purchased through T-Mobile.

Unlike using the app, which will enable T-Mobile Digits when you log in for the first time, users of the native Digits experience on the above phones need to explicitly enable it in the T-Mobile account app by.

  1. Open the T-Mobile app.
  2. Tap Menu.
  3. Tap on Usage & Plans.
  4. Tap View line details.
  5. Scroll down to the DIGITS tile.
  6. Tap Unlock.
  7. On the unlock page, tap the Unlock button.

Does it cost anything?

All postpaid T-Mobile numbers can now access Digits for free. There is no additional fee at all, which is nice. That means that you'll be able to use Digits on a T-Mobile number and, through the app, any non-TMobile phone over Wi-Fi or cellular.

T-Mobile is also running a pretty nice promotion starting May 31 for those who want a second Digits line for, say, giving to online account signups or Craigslist ads. As long as you start the process with a T-Mobile One plan, upgrading to a T-Mobile One Plus or One Plus International line ($5/mo and $25/mo respectively) gets a second Digits line for free as long as that account type is active.

If you don't want to upgrade to a T-Mobile One Plus plan, an extra Digits line costs $10/mo when AutoPay is enabled.

Learn more

Where do I download the app?

Right here!

On May 31, you'll be able to log into the Digits app and begin using it on any device you want, receiving phone calls and text messages like you would on your main line.

So should I sign up?

Digits is an intriguing product, and an example of what it looks like when a carrier turns next-generation core technology like IMS and HLR (which works to virtualize SIM data on the core network) into something that is truly compelling to consumers.

At its core, Digits is about making the phone number more flexible by putting it — phone calls and text messages — on practically any device regardless of screen size or type. Tablet? Sure. Smartwatch? Absolutely.

The use cases for Digits are plentiful, and that may be its downfall; unless you know exactly why you should use such a service, I feel many people will be intimidated by the prospect of juggling one number across multiple devices or, even more so, multiple numbers on one device. The service's bugs have certainly been ironed out during the beta period, and there's no cost to try Digits once it launches May 31.

See Digits at T-Mobile

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1 month ago

Should you buy the all new Amazon Fire 7?


Is Amazon's newest budget tablet worth your $50?

The online giant is calling it the "all new Fire 7," which is perhaps more a marketing thing than actual hard truth when it comes to the tablet in question. It is new, and it is improved, but marketing hype is still marketing hype.

So, let's actually break down what is new and whether this latest budget tablet is worth your time.

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1 month ago

Amazon Fire Tablet 7 vs. Fire Tablet Kids Edition: Which should I buy?


You want to get your youngsters an Amazon Fire Tablet, but which version is right for you?

The Amazon Fire Tablet 7 is a great buy at $50, especially for the kids. It's capable enough to keep them entertained while not costing enough to pull your hair out if it gets accidentally destroyed. You can also get all the (non-Google) major content services on there as well as a dedicated kids mode to keep those little fingers from buying a new laptop on your Amazon account.

But, when you go to buy, there's both a "regular" 7-inch and a Kids Edition, which now also has an 8-inch version. Underneath they're both regular Amazon Fire tablets. So what's the difference and which should you buy?

Let's break it down.

Updated May 23 2017 to reflect the updated versions of the Fire tablet.

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1 month ago

Pre-order a 3-pack of Amazon's newest Alexa-enabled Fire tablets and save 20%


Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a discount on Amazon's latest Fire tablets!

Amazon's Fire tablet has been an extremely popular device since its release, and a large part of that is due to its aggressive price point. The company just announced a refreshed version of it with a higher contrast display, the addition of Alexa and more, yet kept it at the same price point. That's right, the new version still starts at just $49.99, but you can actually get it for less if you buy more of them.

You may be considering picking up a few of these for your family, and if you grab three of them at the same time you can save 20% on the purchase with promo code FIRE3PACK. This drops the price of three Fire tablets down to just $128.38, saving you $29.99.

The Fire tablet has a 7-inch IPS display and comes with a base of 8GB of storage in it. You can opt to upgrade that to 16GB of internal space for $20 more, or you could spend that extra $20 on a microSD card since the tablet can handle up to 256GB of expandable storage. You can grab one in black, yellow, blue, or red depending on your preference.

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For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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1 month ago

Amazon's Fire tablets just got a big refresh


Amazon is driving costs down even further, making its tablets irresistible.

Remember way back when there was such a thing as a company capable of competing with Amazon on price for tablets? Those days are long gone, and today Amazon is making sure things stay that way. Four of Amazon's tablets have been refreshed today with new features and colors, and the prices just keep getting better.

Lets see what we're looking at!

Amazon Fire 7 and Fire HD 8

The new Fire 7 tablet from Amazon is lighter and thinner than its predecessor, with a 7-inch IPS display Amazon claims is noticeably improved with higher contrast and less battery drain. This new tablet promises up to 6 hours of batter, 8GB of onboard storage with microSD card support up to 256GB, and Alexa enabled in the OS. If you're looking for a cheap tablet that isn't terrible to use, it's hard to argue with $50 for this offering.

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If you want something a little more capable, the Fire HD 8 bumps the screen resolution to 1280x800 and starts with 16GB of onboard storage. This version of the tablet also offers 12 hours of battery, and like the new 7-inch version comes in the standard black as well as Punch Red, Marine Blue and Canary Yellow. This upgraded experience will run you $80, which is clearly not much considering what you're getting.

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Amazon Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

According to Amazon, the new Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 are already more durable than the current generation iPad. That doesn't stop the company from releasing a Kids Edition variant of its tablets with big silicone bumpers and a two-year "worry-free" guarantee to replace if you actually manage to break yours. The new Fire 7 Kids Edition increases the default storage to 16GB onboard and includes a year of Amazon's FreeTime Unlimited so your kids have access to more apps and shows and books than can be read in that timeframe. This new kid-friendly setup will run you $100, and comes in the three colorful silicone options based on your choice.

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The HD 8-inch variant, like the Adult version, has a better display and larger battery. It's also packing 32GB of onboard storage by default and includes the same two-year guarantee as the smaller version. Like the Adult Fire HD 8, you're paying $30 more than the smaller version for the boost in specs.

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Amazon is clearly not done making a lot of noise when it comes to inexpensive tablets packing all of the best features the company has to offer, so will you be upgrading? Sound off in the comments!

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1 month ago

Qualcomm goes all-in on all-day battery with new Snapdragon 630 and 660 platforms


Qualcomm is going to make budget phone buyers very happy.

Qualcomm is back with two new 600-series chips to power the next generation of mid-range phones. The company has announced the Snapdragon 630, a successor to the wildly popular Snapdragon 625 (and little-used 626), along with the Snapdragon 660, a completely revamped and more-efficient sequel to the Snapdragon 650 (and 653).

Let's start with the basics.

Snapdragon 630

The Snapdragon 630 is the more minor of the updates, keeping much about what made the popular Snapdragon 625, which quickly became a battery darling in phones like the Moto Z Play and Huawei Nova Plus (and the upcoming BlackBerry KEYone). It maintains the eight-core Cortex-A53 breakdown of four high-speed cores and four lower-clocked cores, though they are up to 30% faster across the board. And while the graphics chip has also been updated from the Adreno 506 in the Snapdragon 625 to a faster Adreno 508, the fundamental architecture hasn't changed — both are still built on a 14nm process — and improved performance isn't the priority.

Instead, the Snapdragon 630 brings the platform into 2017, with support for LTE speeds up to 600Mhz with 3x carrier aggregation; Bluetooth 5.0, Quick Charge 4.0, and USB 3.1 with USB-C; and a better camera experience with the new Spectra 160 image signal processor.

The Snapdragon 630 will be powering mid-range devices starting in Q3 of this year, and it's definitely going to help devices in the $300 to $400 range reach their potential — aside from the older CPU architecture and anemic GPU, most of the improvements in the platform come directly from the Snapdragon 820 and 835 line.

Snapdragon 660

The Snapdragon 660 is the biggest announcement of the day, making massive improvements over the current Snapdragon 650, 652 and 653. The most important takeaway is the additional battery savings from the switch to a 14nm manufacturing process from the aging and inefficient 28nm process that reached maturity in 2013. That, coupled with the move to Qualcomm's Kryo cluster, based on the custom CPU design that debuted with the Qualcomm 820 last year, means that the Snapdragon 660 should be one of the most-coveted upper-midrange chips on the market.

Coming to devices as early as June — expect the first announcement within the next few weeks — the Snapdragon 660 has eight Kryo cores, four performance cores at 2.2GHz and four at 1.8GHz, and promises a 30% improvement in speeds over the Snapdragon 653. There's also a new Adreno 512 GPU, which is a nice bump over the 510 in the previous generation, and support for Qualcomm's 2016-era X12 baseband, which includes 3x carrier aggregation for speeds up to 600Mbps. Quick Charge 4.0, Bluetooth 5 and USB 3.1 are also included, too.

Aside from the new features, Qualcomm is making perhaps the biggest noise about the improved camera experience inside the Snapdragon 660. While it has the same Spectra 160 ISP as the Snapdragon 630, better support for 4K capture and the same electronic image stabilization that was popularized in high-end phones from 2016 has filtered down to this mid-range line.

Finally, the battery savings that people saw in the Snapdragon 625 are also included in the 660, which is promising; Qualcomm says that users will see an average of two additional hours when moving to a Snapdragon 660 from a 653 using the same hardware (which obviously won't happen, but they're looking for an apples-to-apples comparison).

The takeaway

These chips are going to be very interesting, especially given the success of the Snapdragon 625 and the relative failure of the 650 lineup. For the 630, this is very much an evolution, sticking with what works while shoring up on auxiliary features like cellular speed and camera performance.

The Snapdragon 660 is revelatory, largely because it will bring most of the Snapdragon 835's best features to the $400 to $500 range, and will allow manufacturers to get away with offering a mid-range chip for their flagships.

What do you think of these new chips? Will you be holding out for one or the other? Let us know in the comments!

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