With Alexa’s ever-increasing popularity, new Alexa-enabled products deliver almost daily. Some are duds – some are interesting and valuable. When new and interesting products are available, we take a look at new and important Alexa add-on hardware you might want to consider adding to your Alexa device farm.
Alexa is available for Amazon devices Echo, Echo 2, Dot, Tap, Echo Spot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Look, Echo Connect, Dash Wand, Fire tablets, and Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Edition TVs, in the Music app, but also on iOS, Android, and the web with Reverb.ai.
This week’s hardware: Amazon’s Fire HD 10 Tablet
Description: Amazon’s largest tablet has been refreshed with new hardware specs and a new Fire OS version that delivers always-on Alexa.
- Brilliant 10.1″ 1080p Full HD display (1920 x 1200), up to 1.8 GHZ quad-core processor, 2 GB RAM, and up to 10 hours of battery life
- Largest display, now with over 2 million pixels, stereo speakers, Dolby Audio, and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi – perfect for watching Full HD video, playing games, reading magazines, and streaming content seamlessly
- Use Alexa hands-free mode to pause videos, play music, open apps, show sports scores, display the weather, and more – just ask (available soon via software update)
- 32 or 64 GB internal storage expandable by up to 256 GB (using the microSD slot). Watch downloaded videos anywhere with a Prime membership, Netflix plan, or Showtime subscription.
- Enjoy millions of movies, TV shows, songs, Kindle eBooks, magazines, Android apps, and games – including Netflix, Facebook, HBO, Spotify, and more
- Prime members get unlimited access to over a thousand books and magazines, millions of songs, and thousands of movies and TV episodes – at no additional cost
- Get exclusive Amazon features, including ASAP, X-Ray, On Deck, Blue Shade, and FreeTime Parental Controls
Real world use: Like Superman I live two different lives. During the day, I’m the mild-mannered Rod Trent, using my Surface Pro to do work and be productive. But, at night, I ditch the Surface and pick up my Fire tablet for reading, shopping, and entertainment. I learned long ago that to completely untether myself from the temptation of continuing to work through the evening, I needed two devices. One for work and one for consumption.
I’ve tried numerous tablets over the years, moving between Windows tablets to iPad and non-Amazon Android tablets â€“ but eventually I settled on the Amazon Fire tablet. Amazon’s Fire tablet runs a highly customized version of the Android OS, but its presented in a way that makes it personally usable and less distracting than an unshackled Android experience.
I also eventually determined that the perfect size for me for consuming content is an 8-inch format. So, these days I keep the Amazon Fire 8 HD tablet close at hand.
However, Amazon is releasing a refreshed 10-inch version. And, while the size seems a bit larger than I have identified as my own personal size, the always-on Alexa capability has me intrigued. We have one set to deliver on the day they release (October 11), so I’ll be giving it a good test into next weekend and reporting back.
Amazon is taking a page from Microsoft’s book and making Alexa voice-ready, i.e., always listening for commands. Many forget that Cortana was the ground-breaking voice-enabled assistant and the first to offer this always-on function, but alas, Microsoft is doing what it always does – it develops great technology, lets it sit, and then loses the market from lack of movement. It’s possible that the company just does too many things and gets distracted. You can sort of see a strategy now where the company is pulling back on extraneous projects and moving solely to becoming a cloud provider. Even Microsoft recent partnership with Amazon for merging Alexa and Cortana is more indication of this.
Current Fire tablets still host Alexa capabilities, but you have to tap and hold the Android Home button to get Alexa to start listening. The always-listening mode for Alexa is rumored to also deliver to Amazon’s other, more recent Fire tablets with a Fire OS upgrade – but that probably won’t happen for a couple months, at least. So, this larger tablet will be the only way to test the feasibility of the ability for the near term. Like all Fire tablets, this tablet is offered in a couple different ways. There’s 32 GB and 64 GB options, and with special offers and without. The combination of differences mean about $20 either way.
Will this larger size tablet make me ditch the 8-inch model? Probably not. Again, I took great pains a couple years back to carefully test to see which size was right for me and the 8-inch remains perfect. Still, I always approach hardware and gadget testing with an open mind and I’ll give this refreshed 10-inch version its proper due.
Where to get the hardware: Amazon has the Fire HD 10 Tablet for $149.00: All-New Fire HD 10 Tablet with Alexa Hands-Free, 10.1″ 1080p Full HD Display
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