Fire_webreadyA $50 tablet from Amazon is shipping September 30, and the mystery of the operating system is solved for this and related new models. Amazon is still going the proprietary route but has apparently made radical changes.

Also noteworthy is the inclusion of an SD card slot.

The Release: “The new Fire tablet includes a quad-core processor, 7” IPS display, front- and rear-facing cameras, up to 128GB of expandable storage, exclusive Amazon features and services, and access to the world’s best content ecosystem—all for just $49.99. Customers can also choose to buy Fire as a six-pack for less than $250.”

Ahead is the feature list, with more than a standard serving of ballyhoo:

    • Best display of any tablet in its price class—Unlike other low-cost tablets that use TN displays, Fire’s 7” IPS display offers a great viewing experience with vivid and accurate color reproduction that can be seen at all angles.
    • Quad-core 1.3 GHz processor—2x more processing power than Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite at less than half the price; quickly and easily switch between apps, stream movies, and browse the web without waiting for your tablet to catch up.
    • Durability—As measured in tumble tests, Fire is almost 2x more durable than the latest generation iPad Air.
    • Front- and rear-facing cameras—Video chat with friends and family with the front-facing camera; take and share photos, and save them for later with free, unlimited cloud storage for all photos taken on Fire devices.
    • Up to 128GB of expandable storage via microSD—Enjoy even more videos, music, games, and photos while offline.
    • All-day battery life—Delivers up to 7 hours of reading, browsing the web, listening to music, and watching video.
    • Fire OS 5 “Bellini”—Includes an updated user interface that replicates the look and feel of a magazine, making browsing and searching for your content easier than ever—what you want is just one tap away; plus, Fire OS 5 includes hundreds of new and upgraded features and platform updates, plus Amazon-exclusive services.
    • Amazon Underground—A one-of-a-kind app store experience where over $10,000 in apps, games and even in-app items are actually free—including extra lives, unlocked levels, unlimited add-on packs, and more.
    • Have you ever forgotten to download a movie ahead of a flight? For Prime members, On Deck automatically keeps your Fire tablet current with popular Prime movies and TV shows, as well as Amazon Original Series, so you always have something good to watch. Importantly, On Deck only uses the available storage on your tablet, opportunistically in a special shadow mode. When you download something, On Deck automatically makes room for your selected content—there’s no hassle of needing to clear out space yourself. This feature will be available via a free, over-the-air Fire OS update in the coming months.
    • Activity Center—For parents whose kids have outgrown Amazon FreeTime, Activity Center provides an easy way for them to see how their kids are spending time on their Fire tablet—from how much time they spend playing games, to which websites they visit. Activity Center will be available via a free, over-the-air Fire OS update in the coming months.
    • World-class customer service and tech support—Mayday Screen Sharing lets an Amazon expert guide you remotely through any feature on your screen, available 24×7, 365 days a year—for free. Amazon-exclusive features—ASAP, X-Ray, Second Screen, Amazon FreeTime, Family Library, Word Runner, and more.
    • World’s best content ecosystem—Access to over 38 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, magazines, apps, and games—with free, unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content.

Related: Information on new Fire kids’ edition.


  1. This could be a game-changer. As I said before, the only $50 price range tablet available before was cheap Chinese OEM stuff. A $50 tablet that has a respected brand name like Amazon on it, and access to the predominant e-book ecosystem, is all but unheard of. And you can get six of them for little more than one of Amazon’s 10″ tablets? Suddenly everyone in the entire family gets their own inexpensive information appliance.

    At that price, it doesn’t matter that it’s anchored to the Amazon ecosystem. It’ll still support email, web, and the major social networks, For fifty bucks, what more could they want?

  2. My sister asked me about getting this for grandkids to do school work on, and I told her that might be dubious. Amazon is subsidizing the price to increase the consumption of their entertainment products. They have no incentive to make it do more than that. As with any computing device, find the apps you need to run. If it runs them, fine. If not, it’s a waste of money.

    Also, ask how long will Amazon support this after its no longer being sold. My Kindle 3 got one trivial upgrade after I bought it. Since then, nothing. In contrast, a few days ago I installed the fourth major iOS version my iPad 3 has run. Each upgrade has come with useful feature. I particularly like how I can use two fingers with my on-screen keyboard to scroll around a document.

    I’m also becoming increasingly inclined to Steve Jobs POV. He and many of his colleagues in high-tech severely restricted their kids use of nothing-but-fun gadgetry. Having them around to be freely used is a bit like offering kids carrots or cookies for meals. What’s most appealing is likely to be least healthy.

    In short, limit their access to the useless, addicting stuff, i.e. games and encourage their use of what teaches discipline and persistence. That includes regular and digital books, the longer the better. I doubt it includes endless kiddie cartoons. They’ll get enough of those on regular TV at other kids houses.

    Steve Jobs’ behavior also illustrates one reason why the children of the rich often become rich themselves. Parents make that happen. Growing up, they’ve not wasted hundreds of ours mastering game-playing skills that have almost no use in making a living. They’ve been forced to learn discipline and work.

    Or as someone I once heard put it, there is a reason why, when you get on a plane, the people in First Class open up their computers to spreadsheets and business reports while those in economy are typically watching movies.

    Sorry to rain on this $50 tablet parade, but it does have its downside, particularly for kids who should be playing outside or reading books that stretch their minds. And yes, I grew up in an era when television meant just three channels with almost no kids programming. I had to read and I had to ramble in the woods to beat the boredom. Kids today need more of that same had-to in their lives even if parents have to create it by not offering distractions.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail