Amazon’s Thursday press conference ahead of the holiday season brought confirmations to rumors which have been circling through the blogosphere for the past month including three new Kindle Fire models which go by the name Kindle Fire HD.
The updated Kindle Fire will be available on September 14 at a starting price point of $159 while the larger 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD is set at $299. You can also pick up the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD with 16 GB of storage for $199. The larger Kindle Fire HD is expected to ship November 20th.
A third version, which copies the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD specs features 4G LTE coverage at $49.99/year. This includes a $10 Amazon App Store credit, so it’s more like paying $39.99/year. The Kindle Fire HD 4G LTE comes with 32 GB of storage at a price of $499. It also ships on November 20th.
Jeff Bezos took the stage proclaiming the Kindle Fire to be a service, not a gadget. He explained that because it comes pre-loaded with content and acts as a conduit to the greater Amazon Prime service, the Kindle Fire doesn’t technically count as a gadget. Either way, a new Kindle Fire was announced shortly after.
Instead of announcing a single new model, Amazon introduced two. One featuring a 7″ display similar to that of the original Kindle Fire and the other a larger 8.9″ which is set to compete with top contenders of the current Android tablet market including the Sony Tablet S and the Samsung Galaxy Tab line.
These two new models each feature a number of improvements over the original Kindle Fire including a faster processor and increased screen definition. The other features an 8.9-iinch screen with a resolution of 1920×1200 and dual-band Wi-Fi antennas for better connectivity.
The Kindle Fire HD introduces two Wi-Fi technologies (MIMO and Dual-Band Antennas) which are not currently being used by the iPad, as pointed out by Bezos during the presentation. In fact, the difference in Wi-Fi speeds is 41%, according to Amazon.
Specs and Features
8.9″ Kindle Fire HD
- Screen Size: 8.9″
- Resolution: 1920×1200
- Pixel Density: 254ppi
- Width: 8.8mm
- Laminated Touch Screen (25% Less Glare)
- Processor: TI OMAP 4470
- Dual Stereo Speakers (Dolby Digital Plus)
- Data: Dual Wi-Fi Antennas (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz)
- MIMO (Multiple-input Multiple-output) Build-in
- HD Video Playback
- Storage: Starting at 16GB
- HDMI Out
- Front-Facing Camera
- 4G LTE (Optional)
Whispersync for Voice was also announced for the Kindle line which syncs where you left off in the audio book on one device so you can pick up where you left off on another. Whispersync was also expanded to the gaming world allowing you to pick up where you left off on games like Angry Birds. That’s significantly cooler than having to start all over when you move from one device to another. Bear in mind that Whispersync only works on devices within the Amazon realm of influence.
Enhanced multimedia tools including X-Ray for movies and television shows, dual-page display for magazines, and enhanced parental controls were also announced.
The 4G LTE tablet was expected, but at a $200 premium over the 16 GB Wi-Fi Kindle Fire HD, I’d expect either free connectivity or something more than a cap of 200 MB/month. $49.99 per year for Internet connectivity isn’t bad, but you’re paying for a harsh limit. How many Android apps are larger than 100 MB?
The refreshed Kindle Fire line (including the introduction of the new Kindle Fire HD) solidifies Amazon’s dedication to the hardware market. Android continues to be a base on which Amazon’s tablets are produced.
Amazon’s Kindle line has never been at the forefront of the Android market (aside from sales). It’s decision to go with a modified Android OS in order to keep users within the greater Amazon ecosystem makes it more of a niche product than the Nexus 7.
That said, Amazon has a stellar reputation among its customers and will surely enjoy high sales out of the gate. Too bad Amazon can’t seem to ship its best tablet until months after the initial announcement.
Image: The Verge