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With upgrades, Amazon’s 2020 Fire HD 8 costs more but remains a bargain – CNET

With models available in 7-, 8- and 10-inch screen sizes and priced as low as $50 before Prime Day discounts, Amazon’s Fire tablets have long been the go-to option for bargain gadget hunters. But with its 2020 refresh of the 8-inch Fire HD 8 tablet, long the Goldilocks option of its line, Amazon is adding…

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With upgrades, Amazon’s 2020 Fire HD 8 costs more but remains a bargain     – CNET

With models available in 7-, 8- and 10-inch screen sizes and priced as low as $50 before Prime Day discounts, Amazon’s Fire tablets have long been the go-to option for bargain gadget hunters. But with its 2020 refresh of the 8-inch Fire HD 8 tablet, long the Goldilocks option of its line, Amazon is adding a twist that may leave you wondering which one to buy. There are now two 8-inch models to choose from: a baseline Fire HD 8 starting at $90 (£90), and the $110 (£110) Fire HD 8 Plus, which adds wireless charging and slightly better performance. The tablet isn’t currently available in Australia but the starting price converts to about AU$160.

LikeFaster processor than last versionFast USB-C chargingBetter front camera placement2GB of RAM (up from 1.5GB)Hands-free Alexa voice assistantImproved battery life

Don’t LikeHD 8 Plus offers nice step-ups for just a bit more moneyDisplay is HD but not 1080p (could be sharper)Amazon Appstore is limited compared with Google Play and Apple App StoreAmazon Prime membership is a must

The two models look identical on the outside. The HD 8 Plus is only available in a slate color while the standard HD 8 is available in black, white, plum, twilight blue and slate. But apart from the white version, they all have a black bezel around the display. Both models are improved over the previous 2018 Fire HD 8 version with a faster processor, USB-C charging, better Wi-Fi performance and a bump from 16GB to 32GB of storage in the base model. The standard HD 8 has 2GB of RAM — that’s up from 1.5GB — and the HD 8 Plus has 3GB of RAM, which is where you get the performance boost. The USB-C charging does help reduce charging times by about an hour from the previous HD 8, with the HD 8 Plus charging even faster.The 2018 Fire HD 8 (left) is taller but slightly slimmer than the new Fire HD 8 and HD 8 Plus. 
David Carnoy/CNET
What’s a big deal is that Amazon has moved the front-facing camera. It used to be at the top of the tablet when you had it in portrait mode. Now it’s on the side, so it’s at the top when you have it in landscape mode. That helps when you’re doing video calls with Zoom and other video-calling apps, including Amazon’s own. The new model is a bit wider than the 2018 HD 8, but it’s shorter and the bezel is now a similar width around the whole display, which remains the same 8-inch size. Only a high-end tablet like the iPad Pro has more screen and less bezel: Other budget tablets typically have wide bezels.  

Thanks to the combination of a new 2GHz quad-core MediaTek 8168 processor and some software updates, battery life is now rated at 12 hours of “mixed use” instead of 10.  The other small upgrade is that the microSD expansion slot now accepts up to 1TB cards. Previously, the maximum capacity was 512GB.So all in all, there are some substantial changes. And you’ll have to pay more for them. As stated above, the standard HD 8 now costs $90 instead of $80 and the HD 8 Plus with wireless charging and the extra gigabyte of RAM is $20 more at $110. The price for the Plus goes up another $20 if you buy the companion wireless charging dock for the Plus, which you probably want to do.The Fire HD 8 now features USB-C charging.
David Carnoy/CNET
Both new Fire HD 8 models have the same 1,280×800-pixel resolution display as the previous HD 8. The screen is technically HD but it’s basically 720p and not 1080p. It’s fine for watching videos but it’s not nearly as sharp as the screen you get with, say, an iPad, which is why you’re paying a lot less for this. At 355 grams, the new Fire HD 8 weighs a touch less than its 363g predecessor.

A few years back, the HD 8 seemed sluggish, but its performance has steadily improved and now it’s pretty zippy (Amazon says the new HD 8s are 30% faster than the 2018 HD 8 thanks to the new processor and software optimization). It isn’t as responsive as an entry-level iPad, which is often on sale for about $250, but it’s overall pretty smooth and I didn’t have any problem running games like Asphalt 9: Legends. That said, the eight-core processor and GPU — the graphics processor — are faster in the 10-inch Fire HD 10, which also has a sharper 1080p display. When that model goes on sale for $100, it’s probably the best value in tablets. But some people are looking for a smaller, lighter tablet and the HD 8 is a significant bump up from Amazon’s cheapest tablet, the Fire 7.The more expensive HD 8 Plus features wireless charging and is available in a bundle with a wireless charging dock. The HD 8 Plus automatically goes into Show Mode when in the dock.
David Carnoy/CNET
I didn’t see a big difference in performance between the HD 8 Plus and standard HD 8, but the extra gig does help. Apps open a touch faster and it can help with multitasking and more graphically intense applications. It never hurts to have more RAM, I can tell you that. The HD 8 Plus seems to wirelessly charge on any Qi-enabled charging pad — at least the ones I tried with 7.5 watts or greater charging power. But you really want the charging dock that Amazon bundles in for an extra 20 bucks. That’s because one of the big appeals of the Fire HD 8 Plus is that you can drop it in the dock and it automatically goes into show mode, turning your tablet into something much like an Echo Show 8, complete with hands-free access to the Alexa voice assistant. It’s still using the tablet’s internal speakers instead of a real speaker and the tablet doesn’t have a more extensive microphone array for picking up your voice like an Echo speaker does. But it works well enough and the sound is OK for watching video (it’s not so great for music). You could wirelessly connect a Bluetooth speaker to augment the sound.The standard Fire HD 8 is available in white and other color options.
César Salza
I put the dock in my kitchen and used the HD 8 Plus as a mini TV because I have Spectrum TV as my cable provider. There happens to be a Spectrum app that gives me all my channels on the Fire HD 8 or HD 8 Plus so long as I’m on my home network (you get a reduced number of channels when you’re away from your home network). Like the Fire HD 10, the HD 8 now has a picture-in-picture mode for watching video in a small window in the corner of the display while using the tablet’s other applications, such as using a browser to look up recipes. You could get a cover with a built-in stand — Amazon sells plenty of those, including its own nicely designed but expensive covers — and create the same setup for watching videos with either the HD 8 Plus or standard HD 8. But you wouldn’t be able to wirelessly charge the tablet at the same time.The Fire HD 8 has always been a handy tablet for consuming Amazon video content, ebooks and music, and it’s still particularly useful for Prime members. You can also watch other streaming video services such as Netflix and Hulu, but the selection of apps in the Amazon Appstore has always been limited compared with what’s available for Android and iOS, especially when it comes to games. You won’t find apps for Vudu or HBO Max, for instance (though HBO Max may be coming).The tablet runs on Amazon’s latest Fire OS, a customized version of Android P, which was released in the fall of 2018. And while Amazon doesn’t encourage it, you can install the Google Play store by following some instructions on the internet. That would allow you to run a lot more apps. But some people may feel intimidated by the process.The previous Fire HD 8 was popular with parents wanting an affordable tablet for their kids. If that’s who you’re buying this for, the standard HD 8 is going to be just fine. (There’s also a $130 Kids Edition that bundles in a protective case and a year of Amazon’s Freetime Unlimited all-in-one subscription service that gives kids access to thousands of age-appropriate books, videos, apps, Audible books and games.)I like being able to wirelessly charge the Fire HD 8 Plus and the dock is nicely designed. I think you’ll end up using the tablet more because it does double duty as a more modest Echo Show substitute; it’s basically always charged and ready to go when you want to use it outside the dock. That said, the bundle with the dock is currently $40 more than the standard HD 8, and for some folks that’s a big jump in price if you’re looking for a budget tablet.The previous Fire HD 8 sold for as low as $50 during the holidays last (and other flash sales this year). This one probably won’t go that low, but expect to see it for $20 to $30 off at some point in the future. At $90, it’s a decent value, and it’ll be a real bargain if it drops to $60 or $70. I do wish the screen were 1080p, but you apparently can’t have everything at this modest price.Editors’ note: Because the Fire HD 8 reviewed here is very similar to its sibling product, the Fire HD 8 Plus, most of this language is borrowed from our review of that model.

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Huawei’s new flagship P50 series has Snapdragon 888 and two camera bumps – CNET

Huawei/Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram/CNET Huawei has taken the wraps off its latest superphone series. It unveiled the P50 and P50 Pro in an online event Thursday, each of which are getting a China-only release for now. The main superpower of Huawei’s phones has long been their cameras — and the P50 is no exception. In fact, you…

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Huawei’s new flagship P50 series has Snapdragon 888 and two camera bumps     – CNET

Huawei/Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram/CNET
Huawei has taken the wraps off its latest superphone series. It unveiled the P50 and P50 Pro in an online event Thursday, each of which are getting a China-only release for now. The main superpower of Huawei’s phones has long been their cameras — and the P50 is no exception. In fact, you can see the emphasis Huawei put on the cameras as soon as you look at the phones: Both the P50 and P50 Pro have not one but two camera bumps, which together take up more than a third of the phone’s rear width. This wasn’t entirely a surprise, since Huawei had teased images and videos of the lineup ahead of the event, but it does make for an eye-catching new design, which does away with the dual hole-punch design of the P40 series.The P50 Pro has four cameras on its rear: a 50-megapixel main, a 64-megapixel telephoto, a 40-megapixel monochrome and a 13-megapixel ultrawide lens. The P50 has a similar camera bump, but it has one less lens. There’s a 50-megapixel main camera, a 12-megapixel telephoto and a 13-megapixel ultrawide. Surprisingly, the base version has better optical zoom than the Pro version (5x versus 3.5x optical zoom). Each has 13-megapixel selfie cameras.Huawei’s P50 lineup was launched in China on Thursday.
Huawei
Beyond the camera, the P50 series stacks a range of enviable features, as expected (see the specs list below for more details). A crisp and smooth OLED display, a large battery, fast charging (66 watts) and powerful processors. The P50 series comes in two variants — one powered by the company’s own Kirin 9000 chipset and the other by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 4G CPU. Qualcomm was granted permission to sell chips to Huawei last year. These chipsets are backed up by 8GB of RAM and 256 or 512GB of flash storage. You may recall Huawei phones no longer feature Google apps — a consequence of crippling US sanctions. But the P50 series is one of Huawei’s first new lineups to debut the company’s own operating system, Harmony OS, which the Chinese telecom had developed in-house to replace Google Mobile Services in its smartphones. When the P50 launches internationally, it should provide Huawei with the opportunity to gauge consumer response to the company’s in-house software and whether it’ll gain wider adoption among international shoppers amid the backdrop of Huawei’s eroding smartphone market share.  Huawei’s Richard Yu unveiled the company’s P50 series in a virtual launch event.
Huawei/Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram
Huawei is starting out with a China release before the series gets an international rollout (if it ever does), though specs may vary slightly based on your country. The P50 Pro starts at 5,988 yuan (roughly $930, £665 or AU$1,256), while the P50 starts at 4,488 yuan (roughly $695, £500 or AU$940).Key specsHuawei P50 Pro 4GDisplay: 6.6-inch OLED, 120Hz, 2,700×1,228 pixels, 450ppiDimensions: 158.8×72.8×8.5mmCamera: 50-megapixel main, 64-megapixel telephoto, 40-megapixel monochrome, 13-megapixel ultrawideProcessor: Snapdragon 888 4GBattery and charging: 4,360 mAH, 66-watt charging, 50-watt wirelessWater and dust resistance: IP68 ratingHuawei P50 4GDisplay: 6.5-inch OLED, 90Hz, 2,700×1,224 pixelsDimensions: 156.5×73.8×7.9mm Camera: 50-megapixel main, 13-megapixel ultrawide, 12-megapixel telephotoProcessor: Snapdragon 888 4GBattery and charging: 4,100 mAh, 66-watt chargingWater and dust resistance: IP68 rating

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Grab a Ring Doorbell and an Echo Show 5 bundle for $65 today – CNET

ring Having a Ring Doorbell is one of the best ways to know what’s happening at your front door when you’re not home, because it lets you see what’s happening right from your phone. When you are at home, however, you may not always have your phone om hand. This is one of the best…

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Grab a Ring Doorbell and an Echo Show 5 bundle for $65 today     – CNET

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Having a Ring Doorbell is one of the best ways to know what’s happening at your front door when you’re not home, because it lets you see what’s happening right from your phone. When you are at home, however, you may not always have your phone om hand. This is one of the best reasons to pair your Ring doorbell up with an Echo Show, as it lets you immediately see what’s happening from that camera. It’s why you frequently see Ring products and Echo Show products bundled, but it’s rare to see those bundles as heavily discounted as the one available today. The wired version of the Ring Doorbell is perfect for anyone who already has a doorbell system in their home and wants to make it a little smarter. And when you pair an Echo Show 5 with it, you have a screen that lets you peek outside from wherever in the house you set it up. This setup is incredibly handy for people who work in a room that isn’t near the front door of their house, or if you’re elbows deep in meal prep in the kitchen and can’t clean your hands off fast enough to reach for your phone. This huge discount is a great way to make your front door safer, and if you have an Amazon login you can purchase from the Ring website as though you were purchasing from Amazon itself. 

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How to use the automatic responses on Ring Doorbells – CNET

Chris Monroe/CNET Ring’s video doorbells can talk to the delivery person at your door when you don’t feel like it. They can even tell your annoying neighbor to go away. Ring’s Quick Replies feature debuted recently and is rolling out on newer models like the Ring 4. It’s even available via an update on older models…

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How to use the automatic responses on Ring Doorbells     – CNET

Chris Monroe/CNET
Ring’s video doorbells can talk to the delivery person at your door when you don’t feel like it. They can even tell your annoying neighbor to go away. Ring’s Quick Replies feature debuted recently and is rolling out on newer models like the Ring 4. It’s even available via an update on older models dating back to the Ring 2. From the app, you can pick from a variety of automatic responses and then, when your doorbell rings, your smart gadget will do the talking on your behalf. 

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Check out the video to see it in action. Here are the steps to enable the feature and customize it to your liking. From the main page of the app, click on the settings icon on your device. You can also tap the image from your doorbell cam to pull up a menu specific to your device, then tap the settings icon. The icon itself will in the top right corner in both cases and looks like a gear wheel.Once in the settings menu, look for a button labeled “Smart Responses” and tap it. Everything else is pretty intuitive.You can turn the feature on and off with the toggle at the top. Turn it on and you’ll see options for response time and what message to relay. You can set the response time to “immediate” to have the doorbell talk right away or you can give yourself a few seconds delay if you want to respond most of the time. If you answer the door, the quick reply won’t also join in.  Ring has a variety of generic messages to pick from. You can have it say things like “leave the package” or “we’re not interested.” You can also prompt the person to leave a message, but you’ll need to subscribe to Ring’s premium service to be able to watch the clip later on and see what they said.

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That’s all you need to know to use this simple but helpful feature. I do wish Ring offered a little more customization or conditional responses so it only gave an automated answer at night, for instance. As it stands, the feature is easy to flip on or off, so when you’re expecting a delivery, you can quickly prep an automatic response from the friendly robotic helper inside your Ring Video Doorbell. 

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