Amazon’s FireHD tablet adopts USB-C and Dolby Atmos

Amazon has its hands in a huge number of things these days. They want to do it all, from the Everything Store to creating a huge public surveillance network. Sometimes, it’s as benign as just launching an updated device to read books and listen to music on. Like this Kindle FireHD. Sometimes, they curate the features enough that it kicks ass. This is hard to do, when Kindle Fire sort of lives in the shadow of Android as a whole. (I write this, fully getting the irony that there aren’t any successful Android tablets outside of FireHD.)

What’s this new Kindle Fire HD?

Amazon released a new Kindle FireHD. Like Kindle Fire HD before it, it’s a full color tablet based on Android, but using Amazon’s own build, interface, Alexa assistant, and app store.

Now you get:

  • a faster processor (you don’t really care how fast, but it’s an 8 core 2ghz with 2gb of RAM)
  • 10.1 screen at 1920×1080 resolution
  • 12 hours of mixed-use battery life (as opposed to 12 hours measured doing one low-battery task with brightness all the way down, Wi-Fi off to make the battery spec look as good as possible)
  • faster charging with USB-C
  • Dolby Atmos audio through stereo speakers (and some DSP magic to make it sound like a spatial sound stage)
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 5, as Wi-Fi consortium would like us to call it)
  • Picture in picture – browse the web while watching Prime Video
  • Alexa hands-free
  • front facing camers for Alexa drop-in and video calling

All of this is available to you starting at $150 USD, starting at 32 or 64 GB, and support for up to 512 GB of expandable storage via microSD. Plus, Amazon gives you free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with Fire tablets.

Faster processor is probably good, but the real sweet spot here is better sound and faster charging. USB-C is the path forward, people whose laptops already have it want everything to get converted to it even faster, and it just doesn’t make sense to ship a device with Micro-USB in 2019.

What else should you know?

This is a content consumption device. Unlike Apple’s iPad and iPadOS that wants to redefine what a computer is, and be used for creation, unless you load apps from the Amazon App Store, this is pretty clearly all about consuming Amazon content, using Alexa, and watching STARZ or Prime Video. That’s okay, but you should know that going into it. It also costs significantly less than an iPad, so it has that going for it.

The Amazon Fire HD 10 will ship on October 30th. Pre-orders get Minecraft (valued at $6.99 USD). The all-new Fire HD 10 comes in Plum, Twilight Blue, Black and all-new White.

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