Amazon refreshes Fire tablets, keeps low price tag

At $49.99, Amazon's Fire tablet is super cheap, which brings with it some drawbacks, like a relatively grainy display. But those drawbacks are slowly dwindling thanks to an improved version of the Fire that Amazon rolled out on Tuesday.

The new Fire 7 keeps the same low price tag despite some positive changes to its spec sheet: there's a new 7-inch IPS display with higher contrast, and an improved battery that Amazon says will give you eight hours of unplugged mixed use. Storage options remain the same, with either 8GB or 16GB internal modules and room for up to 200GB of additional storage via the microSD card slot.

Despite the Fire 7's improved display, it's still not quite HD. For that, you'll need to step up to the $79.99 Fire HD 8, which Amazon also refreshed on Tuesday. The new Fire HD comes with an 8-inch 1,280-by-800 IPS display, up to 12 hours of battery life, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, and up to 256GB of expandable storage via a microSD card.

Both models—which come in Black, Punch Red, Marine Blue, and Canary Yellow—run Amazon's own mobile OS, which is a heavily modified version of Android that comes with a proprietary app store. The headlining feature is the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, which is available on all Fire tablet models, including the larger Fire HD 10. (That model, which PCMag found to be clunky and not worth its additional price over the HD 8, suspiciously did not get a refresh).

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As usual, the low prices on the new tablets are "With Special Offers," meaning your tablet will display the occasional ad. To avoid the ads, you'll pay $65 for the Fire 7 and $95 for the Fire HD 8.

Given the tablets' low prices, you might be tempted to buy one for your kids to play with, and Amazon encourages this with the claim that they're more durable than the latest-generation iPad. But both new Fire tablets also come in dedicated kids versions, which cost $99.99 for the Fire 7 and $129.99 for the Fire HD 8. The additional cash outlay gets you a one-year subscription to Amazon's collection of more than 15,000 books, videos, educational apps, and games for kids aged three to 12.

The tablets are now available for pre-order and begin shipping on June 7. For a limited time, if you buy any three new Fire tablet (regular or kids version), get 20 percent off using the promo code FIRE3PACK at checkout.

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