Also adds 4K UHD to new Fire TV
Amazon expects to put new tablets and Fire TVs under the Christmas tree with the launch of a $49.99 tablet, a new kids tablet with a price cut, and two new Fire HD tablet sizes at 8 and 10.1 inches.
The 10.1-inch model is the company’s largest screen tablet to date.
On top of that, the company unveiled two new Fire TV cord-cutting streaming-media players, both the first with 4K Ultra HD streaming. And it added the Alexa voice assistant to the Fire TVs and a new Fire TV Stick.
Here are the details:
Fire TV Trio
Three new Fire TVs include a new Fire TV Stick, a Fire TV set-top box that adds 4K Ultra HD streaming, and the first gaming-oriented set-top-box package with included game controller. It also streams 4K.
All are the first with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to scour the web for information and streaming songs and deliver a natural-language response. The Fire TV devices continue to offer voice control via an app or voice-enabled remote, but Alexa will be extended next year to such functions as finding and playing TV shows and movies, navigating Amazon Fire TV, launch apps, and the like.
The Fire TV Stick is available with standard remote at $39.99 like before, but a $49.99 version now comes with voice-control remote, previously sold separately at $29.99. It is now available for pre-order and ships Oct. 22. Like its predecessor, it comes with 1GB RAM, dualcore processor and 8GB of storage.
The Fire TV set-top box with 4K 30 fps streaming is available for pre-order at $99 and ships Oct. 5. It retains its predecessor’s $99 price point but adds 4K streaming of content from Netflix, Amazon Video and Prime Video, enabling it to access more 4k content than any other streaming-media player, the company contended.
It also features 75 percent more processing power than the predecesor, which ran up to 1.7GHz. The new model runs at 2x2GHz plus 2x1.6GHz.
The new models offer twice the graphics performance and add expandable MicroSD storage, up to 128GB, to complement 8GB of embedded storage. The original 1080p model launched in early 2014 lacked memory-card slots, came with only 8GB of embedded storage, but was later updated with a firmware upgrade to add USB storage.
Other upgrades include stepping up to add Wi-Fi 802.11ac and the more efficient HEVC video codec, reducing the home-network bandwidth needed to stream HEVC-encoded HD content.
RAM remains the same at 2GB.
The Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition is available for preorder at $139 and will start shipping Oct. 5. It combines the new 4K Fire TV with a new game controller, a 32GB MicroSD card, and two included games: “Shovel Knight” and “Disney’s Ducktales.”
Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition
The new game controller, also sold separately, features new ergonomic design, a headphone jack and microphone to access Alexa voice search.
The streaming-media players access such video services as Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO Now, Hulu and WatchESPN; access streaming-audio services; and download and play games, the company said. The set-top box versions play high-performance games, while the Stick plays casual games, the company said.
$49.99 Fire Tablet
Amazon’s current opening-price tablet is the $99 6-inch Fire tablet, which isn’t getting an upgrade, but the company is reducing its opening price for a tablet to $49.99 with the launch of the 7-inch Fire with 1,024 by 600 171 PPI IPS display, quadcore 1.3GHz processor, 1GB RAM, front- and rear-facing cameras with 2-megapixel and VGA resolution, 8GB embedded memory, up to 128GB of expandable storage, Wi-Fi b/g/n/, and battery delivering seven hours of activity. A buy-five-get-one-free six-pack costs $249. The new model is available for preorder and ships Sept. 30.
Its new Fire OS 5 includes an updated user interface said to replicate the look and feel of a magazine plus “hundreds of new and upgraded features and platform updates,” the company said.
The all-new $99.99 7-inch Fire Kids Edition, said to be built ground-up for kids, is a kids-friendly version of the $49 Fire tablet, offering all of the same performance specs, including display, RAM, and processing power. It comes with updated kid-proof case, one year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, 20,000 hand-curated and age-appropriate websites and You- Tube videos, and a two-year “worry-free” guarantee. If it breaks for any reason, Amazon said it will replace it during the warranty period. It’s available for preorder and ships Sept. 30.
Fire HD 8, 10 Tablets
Amazon currently offers a 6-, 7-, and 8.9-inch tablet but is bringing out two new sizes at 8 and 10.1 inches. The Fire HD 8 with 8GB or 16GB of storage is priced at $149 and $169, respectively. Fire HD 10 is available with 16GB or 32GB at $229 and $259. Both are available for preorder and ship Sept. 30.
They are touted as Amazon’s thinnest tablets to date at 7.7mm, and both share the same key performance metrics except for screen size and storage.
Shared characteristics include 1,280 by 800 PPI display, quad-core processor at 2x1.5GHz plus 2x1.2GHz, 1GB RAM, 128GB MicroSD slot, battery lasting for eight hours of active use, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, main 5-megapixel HD camera, and front 720p HD camera. They also feature the new Fire OS 5, and they’re the first Amazon tablets with Amazon Underground, an app store experience in which users access more than $10,000 in apps and games for free.
Other details include widescreen 16:10 HD display instead of a 4:3 display. Fire HD 8 offers 15 percent more viewing area than similar-size tablets with 4:3 screen, while the Fire HD 10 offers 22 percent more viewing space than its 4:3 counterparts, Amazon said. The tablets get a more rugged design said to be almost twice as durable than the latest iPad Air in tumbling tests. They also have stereo speakers and Dolby Atmos surround.
A spokesperson told TWICE that Amazon will continue to offer the current 6-inch kids tablet but drop the 7-inch kids tablet. The company will also continue to sell the current 6-inch Fire HD, at $99, and 8.9-inch Fire HDX, which starts at $399 and delivers higher performance vs. the two new models. Amazon is also dropping its standard 7-inch tablets, except for the new $49.99 model.