Amazon’s new tablet doubles as a cheap Echo Show with hands-free Alexa

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Amazon doesn’t really care how Alexa gets out into world, so long as it gets out there. The smart assistant has been available on the company’s Fire tablets for some time now, but this latest implementation on the new Fire HD 10 presents an interesting new use for Alexa.

Hands-free Alexa is admittedly a bit counterintuitive for a device designed to be used with your hands. But the fact that the feature works even with the screen up opens things up in interesting ways. At $149, the tablet could prove an interesting cut-rate alternative to the $229 Echo show.

Granted, you’re not getting the same Echo specific functionality here — the mic array’s not as good and the speaker leaves a lot to be desired, but a lot of the Show’s best features still apply. For one thing, you can use the device to check in on security camera footage from companies like Ring, Arlo, Nest and August (still waiting for that Canary functionality, folks). And then, of course, there’s the fact that you can just pull it off its stand and use it as a tablet — something that can’t be said for Show.

It’s an interesting bit of added functionality, because let’s be honest, Fire tablets aren’t exactly cutting edge pieces of hardware. That said, the company’s gone a ways to upgrade hardware, offering a 1080p display, 32GB of storage and a stated 10 hours of battery — all in all pretty good for $150.

Amazon’s also been tweaking the software, moving from a walled content OS to open Android and now offering something in-between. The experience is basically Android, with a content hub you can access with a right swipe. Over the generations, it seems the company has settled on a sort of compromise between straight up Android and its initial impulse to skin the hell out of the software.

Alexa has slowly started making its way onto a handful of phones, but the smart assistant hasn’t really been implemented on any tablets outside of Amazon’s own. The new Fire HD 10 could prove an interesting precedent for the device pulling a sort of double duty as a tablet/home hub. New new tablet is up for pre-order today. It starts shipping October 11.