Amazon's thinner Fire HD tablets always have something to watch

Amazon tablets are for content consumption. That's what the company keeps saying and with today's announcement of new two new Fire HD tablets, it's clear that the company that sells you socks and cat food over the internet is doubling down on that message. The new lighter tablets come in eight and 10.1-inch versions and are only 7.7mm thick. But that's only a small part of the news, the tablets and new Fire OS 5 are laser focused on reading, watching and listening. For example, the new tablets now preemptively download Amazon Prime videos based on your video recommendations so when you are offline, you have videos ready to watch. The new Word Runner feature for reading is to help you quickly get through a chapter or a book in record time, And to make sure you have enough room for all those videos, songs and books you'll be consuming the tablets ship with microSD slots for additional storage for content. Content is king at Amazon and these are the devices they've created to deliver it to you.

The new eight-inch tablet starts at $149.99 (£130) with 8GB of memory while the 10.1-inch base model costing $229.99 (£170) for 16GB of memory. The inclusion of microSD cards means that up to an additional 128GB can be added to any of the tablets. For offline viewing of streaming Prime Videos, Amazon has adjusted its DRM so you can now store those movies and TV shows on the microSD card.

Amazon HD10

Of course if you forget to actually download any videos before you leave, you're usually gonna have a bad time. But Amazon has introduced a feature that downloads videos in the background called On Deck. It determines what you would like to watch using Amazon't recommendation engine. On Deck adds and removes videos are storage space fluctuates. The idea is that you'll always something to watch when you're offline. It's a bit like when a TiVo records shows you may like. They're there just in case you need them.

If you're more of a bibliophile, reading on the Fire HD might have just got a bit quicker. The speed-reading Word Runner feature displays one word at a time at between 100 and 900 words a minute. It slowly speeds up the text to your desired word-per-minute rate and pauses ever so slightly for difficult words, punctuation and paragraph breaks. If you miss a word, you can pause it for a timeline of the words and you can slide back and forth until you figure out where you're supposed to be.

All the new features are housed in new enclosures. Both tablets have laminated metal backs. The 8-inch version is available in black, magenta, tangerine, and blue. Sadly, the 10.1-inch Fire HD is only available in black or white. Amazon has stuck with the widescreen IPS Gorilla Glass displays so there's very little letterboxing while watching videos. The rear-facing camera is now 5MP with the front-facing camera hitting 720p. Both are powered by the same quad-core 1.5GHz processor found in the former Fire HD 7.

But again, it's not about the tablet, it's about an experience. Amazon said it had two goals with Fire OS 5: Make it fun and help with content discovery. Discovery is no problem for the Fire OS, fun is in the eye of the tablet holder (see what I did there).

The Fire HD 8 and 10 are available for preorder now and will start shipping on September 30.