Apple's iPad mini may be on its way out as tablet sales continue to plummet, but Amazon seems committed to the market with its Kindle Fire tablets. As with so many other aspects of its business, the online retailing giant uses rock-bottom prices to drive additional sales, whether it's Kindle books, Prime subscriptions, or anything purchased on the Amazon website from the tablet itself.
So while other manufacturers look to scale back on tablets, Amazon has just announced improved versions of its most popular models: the Kindle Fire 7 and Fire HD 8. The first "improvement" comes on the outside, with three new color choices in addition to the usual black slate -- much bright hues of yellow, blue, and red that are different than the options for the last generation. Both new Fire models support Alexa, the company's popular voice assistant.
As the cheapest model (sometimes selling as low as $30), the Fire 7 obviously has the most meager of feature sets. Amazon says the latest version gets a boost in an improved display with more contrast, longer battery life, and a thinner, lighter design. It also obtains dual-band Wi-Fi for improved network performance. Best of all, it retains its low price despite the updates: $49.99 for the base model with 8GB of storage.
The Fire HD 8, as its name suggests, already comes with a superior screen (1,200x800 resolution), twice the RAM and storage in its base model compared to the Fire 7, and longer battery life. It's unclear what specific improvements it's received, though Amazon has reduced the price by $10 to $79.99 for the base 16GB model.
Unlike Apple, Amazon has offered versions of its tablets that are specifically geared for children, who helped fuel the demand for the devices in the first place. The new Kindle Fires are no exception, as there will be a Fire 7 Kids Edition and Fire HD 8 Kids Edition based on the updated slates. These include the larger storage amount (16GB and 32GB, respectively), a rugged case in blue, pink, or yellow, and a year's access to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, a collection of age-appropriate digital cotent. You do pay more for these special editions: $99.99 for the Fire 7 Kids Edition and $129.99 for the HD 8 version.
The new Kindle Fires can be pre-ordered now, with a shipping date of June 7 (including the Kids Editions). Will you be buying one of the updated tablets? Let us know in the comments section below.