Friday, September 7, 2012

Watch out tablet-makers, Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablets are hot!

Kindle Fire HD 8.9-Inch 4G LTE Wireless Dolby ...
Kindle Fire HD 8.9-Inch 4G LTE Wireless Dolby Audio Dual-Band Wi-Fi 32 GB (Photo credit: Giftss)

Tablet makers: Amazon just put you on notice with several new products, all of which are low in price and high in content. The new Kindle Fire HD line brings high-definition to Amazon’s tablets as well as an innovative, but limited, 4G LTE plan.

Did you hear a sound at approximately 1 p.m. PT on Thursday afternoon? That loud boom was Amazon’s Jeff Bezos taking shots at both Apple and Google as he introduced a new line of Kindle Fire tablets with improved hardware and services. And just to make matters worse, Bezos outed an improved e-ink Kindle reader while also cutting the price on both the old entry-level Kindle reader and Kindle Fire. The battle for consumer attention just got turned up a notch.

What did Amazon announce?

First a quick recap on the slew of new and updated devices:
  • The entry-level Kindle drops in price from $79 to $69 and gains improved fonts and 15 percent faster page turns.
  • A new Kindle Paperwhite reader will cost $119 with Wi-Fi or $179 with 3G and boasts improved contrast and 62 percent more pixels. The touchscreen is capacitive and has a patented LED lighting system for reading in the dark. I’ve already pre-ordered one to replace my Kindle Touch.
  • Last year’s Kindle Fire tablet gets a minor refresh and a $40 price drop: For $159, the 7-inch tablet with 1024 x 600 display  and 8 GB of storage has a 40 percent faster processor, twice as much RAM, and longer battery life than the original model.
  • A new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD costing $199 gets a 1280 x 800 high-definition screen, 16 GB of storage, 11-hour battery life and 1.2 GHz dual-core processor.
  • A pair of 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD models are available. First, the $299 edition brings the screen resolution to an eye-popping 1920 x 1200 display, 16 GB of storage and uses a faster 1.5 GHz dual-core chip. Another $200 investment gets the same model but brings the total storage to 32 GB and includes a radio for AT&T’s 4G LTE network along with a corresponding $49.99 yearly LTE service. While this plan sounds good and cheap, you only get 250 MB of monthly LTE data, which will go quick. And AT&T currently has 60 LTE markets as compared to Verizon’s more than 300.
All of the new Kindle Fire HD models support dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5 GHz) as well as MIMO radio technology, so if your home wireless router uses MIMO to boost the signal throughput, these tablets can offer faster wireless performance over the current iPad and Nexus 7, for example.
On the software side, Amazon has improved its Kindle Fire operating system, which is still built upon Google Android; although Android is hidden by Amazon’s custom user interface. Whispersync applies not only to books, but also movies and games, so Amazon will keep track of where you leave off on content or in a game. Immersive reading is a new feature as well. Since Amazon owns Audible, it pairs the audiobook service with ebook content: You can have your book read to you while you read it on the screen. Amazon’s X-Ray technology now expands from books to both movies and textbooks, showing a glossary of information on command.

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