(Pocket-lint) – When Amazon announced the new Fire HD 8 tablet, it also added wireless charging to the range for the first time with a Plus version of that tablet.
That adds appeal to the tablet because there’s convenience when it comes to charging – you can just drop it on the dock – while also taking advantage of the tablet’s in-build Show Mode and Alexa.
A better design
The Fire HD 8 Plus doesn’t come with the Wireless Charging Dock, you have to buy that dock separately. It’s manufactured by Angreat specifically for the Fire tablet and this is a great evolution beyond the previous iteration, the Show Mode Dock.
For those who can’t remember, the Show Mode Dock had you slip your tablet into a sleeve, which then added charging contact points for the changing dock. It worked, but it was pretty messy.
Moving to Qi wireless charging is a much cleaner solution and the new dock is pretty nice too. It’s a fairly substantial folded plastic body, meaning it’s stable, and has a fabric coating sitting over the top, so it’s aesthetically pleasing too. That also means it’s not going to scratch your tablet, not going to gather dust or prints and generally it looks good.
The angle is fixed, however and you can’t change it. It happens to be just about the same viewing angle as the Echo Show and it’s important to make sure you have the speakers on the top of the tablet when you drop it into place, otherwise they will be blocked and muffled – and there’s no separate speaker on this stand.
The tablet can be placed into the dock in either portrait or landscape depending on your preference.
What’s not so good is that it uses the cheapest plug around. This has an old style pin charger on it, while the Fire HD 8 Plus uses USB-C. We can’t help thinking that using USB-C on the charger would create a better universality and potentially less waste down the line.
A Qi standard for charging
It’s a Qi standard charger which is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it means the Fire HD 8 Plus is Qi standard too. That means you can use it with existing Qi chargers you might have. We’ve tested it and it works and that’s convenient for charging in public places with Qi chargers or to charge on Qi-compatible charging furniture, for example.
That also suggests that Amazon might adopt Qi for other device going forward, which is generally good for the wireless charging ecosystem – we’re hoping for a Qi standard Kindle.
It also means that the Wireless Charging Dock will potentially charge other devices you might have. Of course, it’s designed for the Fire HD 8 Plus, so the shape is to accommodate that device and some items just won’t fit. But we found that the dock is ideally shaped to stand up a phone – meaning it will probably charge many smartphones as well.
That will depend on where the charging elements are on both to a certain extent, but we dropped the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro into the dock and it charged perfect well – but there’s no guarantee that it’s going to work with other devices. It’s designed first and foremost for the Fire HD 8 Plus.
A word on Echo Show mode
Echo Show mode was introduced a few years back to provide a crossover point between Amazon’s Fire tablet and its Echo Show smart display. Effectively, it means the Fire tablet can replicate the functions of the Echo Show.
When you drop the tablet into the Wireless Charging Dock it will automatically launch into Show Mode. You’ll get a display with larger clock on it, hints for Alexa requests or things like calendar appointments and reminders. It is, in effect, the same view you get on the Echo Show.
The Fire HD 8 Plus also supports always-on Alexa voice control, meaning you can just speak to Alexa to get those responses. In practise, it’s basically exactly the same as using the Echo Show – although the speakers aren’t quite as powerful.
If you don’t want those functions, you can turn any of them off. You can turn off Alexa voice control and you can turn off Show Mode if you’re not interested in it.
The Wireless Charging Dock for the Fire HD 8 Plus works well as part of the package when combined with the new Amazon tablet. That you have to buy them separately is going to cause pause for thought for some – and the price of the dock will deter some too.
But if you can get them together then this is a convenient solution for a domestic tablet. You have the advantage of an Echo Show when it’s docked, but the ability to grab the tablet for a full range of entertainment when you want it, knowing that it’s going to be fully charged.
Writing by Chris Hall.