Amazon's Kindle Fire HD 10 gets a meaty hardware upgrade

Amazon's Kindle Fire 7 is probably the undisputed champion of the under-$50 tablet segment, and it often forays down to $35 impulse-buy territory thanks to discounts. The company's Kindle Fire HD tablets compete in more contested territory, but the online retailer-slash-cloud-computing-provider is upgrading its premium tablet's arsenal for the holiday shopping season. The new Kindle Fire HD 10 gets a big screen upgrade from a 1280x800 unit with a pixel density of 149 PPI to a 1920x1200 unit with 224 PPI. For some users, the addition of an Alexa voice interface might be even better news than the screen update.

The old Kindle HD 10 tablet was last updated in late 2015. While the MediaTek SoC in the previous model had a four-core big.LITTLE arrangement with two 1.5 GHz "fast" cores, it now gets a boost to four equal 1.8 GHz cores. System memory got doubled from 1 GB to 2 GB, too. Those hardware improvements should go a long way towards providing a more responsive experience on the tablet.

Amazon will sell units with either 32 GB or 64 GB of integrated storage, but buyers can add up to 256 GB of additional space on a microSD card. The Fire HD 10 has a 2 MP rear-facing camera that can shoot 720p video, and a 640x480 front-facer. The meager camera specs coupled with the tablet's 10.3" x 6.3" x 0.4" (26 cm x 16 cm x 1.0 cm) dimensions and 18 oz (500 g) weight, probably relegate the picture-takers to emergency duty only. Amazon says buyers have about 10 hours of media consumption between tablet charges.

The Fire HD 10 responds to Alexa voice commands whenever it's connected to Wi-Fi, even when the screen is asleep. The hands-free mode allows users to open apps, pause and resume videos, get answers to questions, and control smart home devices right from the tablet. Like the entire Kindle device family, the Fire HD 10 is positioned as a gateway to Amazon's immense media and app catalog. The included apps allow users to read e-books, play music, and watch videos from Amazon's Prime services or the larger library of paid items.

Amazon is taking pre-orders for it uprated Kindle Fire HD 10 now and expects deliveries to start October 11. The version with 32 GB of local storage costs $150 with lock screen ads or $165 without the extra advertising. The model with 64 GB of capacity runs $190 with the ads and $205 without them. Amazon says the Fire HD 10 is more resistant to falls than Apple's iPad Pro, though the Kindle Fire 7 Kids Edition is still probably a better choice for children or especially-clumsy adults. The tablet is available in black, blue, or red colors. The case with an integrated kickstand shown in the second photo goes for an extra $40.

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