Amazon’s latest Fire HD 8 can transform into a portable Echo Show

Amazon is today launching its latest entry into the Fire HD tablet series, along with a new feature that’ll turn the slate into a makeshift Amazon Echo Show.

Amazon’s budget tablets are big sellers for the online shopping giant, and we’ve always been pretty impressed with what it churns out.

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The new Amazon Fire HD 8 doesn’t stray too far from the formula Amazon has stuck with for a few years now; there’s a durable plastic body, a chunky bezel surrounding the HD display, quad-core processor and a battery that Amazon says should last 10 hours.

The only real hardware differences here are an updated front-facing camera and support for larger 400GB microSD cards.

So there isn’t much to speak of in terms of spec updates, but that’s not to say Amazon is simply releasing the same tablet for the second year.

Like the HD 10 before it, the new HD 8 now supports hands-free Alexa. This means you can bark commands at the tablet without needing to initiate it with a button press.

There’s also a new feature called ‘Show Mode’; a software addition that was introduced in the US earlier in the year.

This tweak lets you turn the HD 8 (and the Fire HD 10 and older HD 8 with a software update) into a makeshift Echo Show. Enable this mode and the UI switches to a simpler view, giving you the weather and time at a glance. Imagery is larger and it’s much easier to see across the room.

To get the most out of Show Mode you’ll need the Show Mode Charging Dock. As the name suggests, this is a powered dock that automatically charges your Fire HD 8 and enables Show Mode for an Echo Show-like experience. The Dock comes with a thin case for the tablet that slips around the back and into the microUSB port – you’ll need this to charge the tablet.

It seems odd that Amazon couldn’t build the necessary charging elements into the tablet itself, but we assume this was a cost-cutting measure to keep the price of the tablet low.

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We got a short demo of the Fire HD 8 during a briefing about the device and it does seem a slick solution that gives the tablet a unique feature. The microphones seemed to pick up requests well and anything you can do with the Echo Show you can pretty much do here.

The new Fire HD 8 will ship in four colours (yellow, red, black, blue) starting October 4, for £79.99. If you want the Charging Dock too, there’s a bundle available for £109.99 or it’ll be available separately for £39.99 later in the year.

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