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If you're in the market for a budget-priced, full-size tablet, Amazon has just released an updated version of the Fire HD 8.

This year's model has three big hardware improvements: 50% more RAM, more battery life, and double the internal storage. There's also a cool software feature that'll be available soon.

RAM is system memory, having more of it means you'll be able to load applications more quickly. It'll also be able to keep things like browser tabs open for longer. More storage means you'll be able to fit more movies, music, and books on your device without having to upgrade your storage. That said, you can always pop in a MicroSD card if need be. More battery life is self explanatory; the Fire HD 8 now gets 12-hours worth, more than enough to last through an entire international flight.

The big software change, which is coming to the entire Fire Tablet line, is Alexa support. Alexa will work on Fire tablets the same way Siri works on iOS devices. Soon you'll be able to ask Alexa questions about the world around you, to play your favorite song, or load your latest must-have app. If you've never used Alexa before, you're in for a treat. I use an Amazon Echo, and it's been a game changer for me.

Besides that, everything has stayed the same, which is a good thing because the 8-inch Fire HD was already a pretty solid product. It has a quad-core processor, stereo speakers, front- and back-facing cameras, and an HD screen. I used my first Fire tablet a few months ago and came away impressed. Amazon makes good hardware with excellent software. Of course, the best way to get the most out of an Amazon tablet is being a part of their ecosystem. 

So if you're a Prime member, you'll instantly have access to millions of songs and movies. If you've bought Audible or Kindle books, they'll be ready to sync the moment you turn your Fire Tablet on.

It might not be able to step toe-to-toe with an iPad Mini, but at almost a quarter of the price, the new Fire HD 8 is a good tablet and an exceptional value.

Fire HD 8 Tablet (16 GB), $89.99, available at Amazon

 

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