Amazon today announced a modest refresh of its Fire line of tablets, as well as a new Kids Edition version of its Fire HD 8 device. The Fire 7 is now thinner and lighter, the company says, with a slight improvement in its display for improved contrast and clearer text. The Fire HD 8 remains the same, but Amazon is cutting its price from $89.99 to $79.99. The Fire 7 will remain at $49.99. The new devices start shipping on June 7th with preorders starting today.
For the first time, Amazon is expanding its Kids Edition variant to the Fire HD 8. That means parents who fancy the parental controls made available with Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited software can now order an 8-inch, HD version of the tablet. FreeTime Unlimited is a $2.99 per month subscription service that lets parents monitor and control a kid’s device usage by app and restricts the types of content kids can access across all categories, from books and games to videos and websites. Last month, Amazon launched a new web and mobile dashboard parents can use to monitor all of this activity as well.
Amazon is putting a big focus on devices for kids
Prior to today, Amazon only offered a Fire 7 Kids Edition for $99.99. As is the case with the standard models, the Fire HD 8 is $30 more, putting the Kids Edition version at $129.99. On top of one free year of FreeTime Unlimited, the Kids Edition devices also come with a free two-year “worry free” guarantee, meaning Amazon will replace the device no questions asked regardless of the type of damage done to it. It also come with protective cover in blue, pink and yellow colors.
As part of the tablet refresh, Amazon is making its Alexa voice assistant available on all Fire tablets in the UK, the first expansion of the feature since its US-only launch last October. The new tablets will receive the Alexa update out of the box. Older devices in the UK will get in as an over-the-air software update some time soon, Amazon confirmed.
None of these updates do anything to change the puzzling fact that Amazon has altogether stopped selling tablets capable of displaying 1080p video, even though pushing its Prime Video service is perhaps the main reason they exist. The Fire HD 8’s new pricing does make it even more affordable, but anyone waiting for Amazon to release a tablet even on par with its 2013 HDX lineup is going to be disappointed.
As for its Fire HD 10, Amazon says it has no news to announce about an update to the device, but the company said it does intend to continue selling the device for the foreseeable future. That tablet remains backordered until July in the US, however, so it may be best to hold off on purchasing one in the event Amazon does indeed decide to update it some time this summer or later on in the fall.