Amazon yesterday refreshed its low-cost tablet range and brought its Alexa voice assistant to Fire tablets in the U.K. for the first time.
The new thinner and lighter $50/£50 Fire 7 boasts an improved 7-inch 1024x600 IPS screen with higher contrast and sharper text, up to 8 hours' battery life, and more storage than its predecessor. Meanwhile, the new $80/£80 Fire HD 8 features a larger 8-inch 1280x800 display and up to 12 hours of battery life.
Both devices pack a quad-core 1.3GHz processor, 2-megapixel VGA front and rear cameras, dual-band WiFi, and Alexa voice assistant, which comes as a new feature for tablets sold in the United Kingdom.
Amazon claims its new Fire models are more hard-wearing than Apple's iPads. Even so, the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 are also available in Kids Editions, for £100/$100 and £130/$130 respectively, which come with a large rubber protective case and a two-year "worry-free" guarantee, as well as more storage, parental controls, no adverting or in-app purchases, and a one-year subscription to Fire for kids unlimited.
With its low-cost, feature-rich offerings, Amazon has managed to buck the trend in a tablet market in which even market-leading brands like Apple have struggled to convince consumers to upgrade to the latest devices. While iPad sales have declined for 13 consecutive quarters, Fire sales have generally improved, seeing double-digit growth in its media-positioned tablets. The Fire 7 has proved particularly popular among parents who want a device for their kids but aren't willing to risk paying a premium price.
The Amazon Fire 7 and HD 8 tablets are available to pre-order now and due to ship on June 7. Amazon will roll out Alexa to more of its Fire tablet devices in the U.K. in June through a software update.
Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon.