If you’re an ebook lover who would just as soon not have to depend on a separate device for reading, Amazon might have the product for you. The company recently released a new Reader’s Edition of its Fire HD 8 tablet.
The regular version of the fourth-generation tablet was first introduced in September. The $250 Reader’s Edition comes with a year’s subscription to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service, which normally costs $10 a month. The free Kindle Unlimited subscription, though, is mitigated by the price of the Reader’s Edition, which is $100 more than the $150 list price of the regular Fire HD 8.
The new model has an 8-inch screen featuring a widescreen 1280 x 800 HD display of more than 1 million pixels. Under the hood, it boasts a fast quad-core processor up to 1.5 GHz, a rear-facing 5 MP camera and front-facing HD camera, along with 8 GB internal storage and a microSD card slot for up to 128 GB of expandable storage. It comes with a free 30-day trial of Audible, the audio book service that offers more than 180,000 titles.
The new tablet also comes with Amazon’s Blue Shade feature, which uses specialized filters to limit exposure to blue light. The feature also offers warm color filters and the ability to lower the display brightness to an ultra-low level for comfortable nighttime reading, even in a dark room.
Amazon said the feature can be turned on or off with a single tap on the Blue Shade quick setting. Users can also fine-tune their screens' color settings as they see fit, and use color filtering so that blue wavelength light, which is known to impair sleeping, can be suppressed.
Blue Shade is already available for other Amazon Fire tablets, including the new Fire OS Bellini. The Reader’s Edition also comes with a free limited edition leather cover. The protective case opens like a book and folds flat for one-handed reading. It can also stand the Fire HD in landscape or portrait orientation to let users read hands-free.
Also in the Reader’s Edition tablet is Word Runner, a feature that keeps the user’s eyes focused on the center of the page and brings each word to where the user is looking. Using what Amazon calls dynamic pacing, Word Runner automatically slows down for difficult words, punctuation and paragraph breaks. It also uses Amazon’s Bookerly font, designed to improve reading on digital screens.
We reached out to Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research, who told us that the new tablet doesn’t seem to offer much besides already-existing features in bundled form, but that might be enough to draw new Fire users into the fold.
"By bundling in a year's subscription to Kindle Unlimited, Amazon is trying to get readers hooked on the service, so that they'll start paying when their year runs out. It also makes it a more self-contained gift for Christmas," said Dawson. "It's definitely not going to be a barn-burner of a deal, but it might help sell a few more devices."
The Fire HD 8 Reader’s Edition is available for pre-order now, and is scheduled to start shipping tomorrow.