Speaking from an Airplane hangar in Santa Monica, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled its latest generation of Kindle products, including the new Kindle Paperwhite eReader and the high-end Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch, which is a larger and more powerful tablet than its predecessor, the Kindle Fire, and looking at the spec sheet, actually rivals other top tablets on the market.
This is seemingly a stark departure from the original Kindle Fire, which had a modest spec sheet and an equally modest price, and which Amazon marketed as a gateway to Amazon\’s large content library of eBooks, eMagazines, movies and apps. To that end, Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, made it clear that consumers should not consider a Kindle device a \”gadget\”, but to view it as a service. The new and updated devices will be sleek and attractive, but Amazon stressed that the company feels they have a breadth of growing offerings to keep your device stocked with books, games, and apps.
The Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch was just one of five devices announced. Here is the breakdown by product.
Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch
The 8.9-inch Amazon Kindle Fire HD will be Amazon\’s top-of-the-line tablet. The 8.9-inch screen will have a resolution of 1920 x 1200, which is actually more than 50- and 60- inch HDTVs, and results in 254 pixels per inch. That PPI count is just a hair less than the third-generation iPad and its vaunted Retina display, considered by many to be the best on any tablet currently available. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch will be offered with 16GB and 32GB of internal capacity, and will feature Dolby speakers, two wireless antennas and MiMO technology for better overall Wi-Fi performance, anti-glare screen technology, and a TI OMAP4 4470 processor, which Amazon claims rivals the best processors on the market. Just like the original Kindle Fire, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch will run a highly customized version of Android, one that is virtually unrecognizable from the smartphone and tablet operating system, and it will have access to all of Amazon\’s apps and content.
On paper, it\’s a very attractive device, made even more attractive by its $299 price tag.
For those that want a little bit more, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch will also be available with 4G LTE from AT&T. This is Amazon\’s most expensive tablet starting at $499. This device will have the same features as the other Fire HD models, but will also include 4G wireless capabilities with either 32GB or 64GB of capacity. Amazon will be offering a unique data plan for the 4G service that will run you only $49.99 a year. The only caveat to this attractive yearly rate is that it limits you to 250MB per month, which is enough for some browsing and email work, but not nearly enough data to stream movies over 4G. The plan includes 20GB of free cloud storage and a $10 Amazon Appstore for Android credit.
By comparison the same 250MB 4G data plan costs iPad owners $15 a month. However, Amazon stated the $50 deal was for the first year of Fire HD ownership. They have yet to clarify if Fire HD owners will have to shift to a more expensive plan once that year is up.
Kindle Fire HD
Amazon also announced the new Kindle Fire HD, a 7-inch device will come with 16GB or 32BG of storage. This model of the Kindle Fire HD will feature a front facing camera, a faster processor (Amazon did not disclose details, but did call it \”world class\”), and a higher resolution screen (1280 x 800 for 216 pixels per inch) than the standard Kindle Fire model. Amazon also installed two Wi-Fi antennas in the device, which they claim will allow for a stronger and more reliable wireless signal, as with the 8.9-inch model.
The new Kindle Fire HD will cost $199, which is the same as the original Kindle Fire.
The non-HD Kindle Fire will receive some welcome updates and it will retail with a lower price tag; dropping from $199 to $159. Amazon also announced the updated Kindle Fire will be 40% faster, have twice the memory, and have up to 9 hours of battery life.
Amazon announced a new eReader, the Kindle Paperwhite, which will feature touchscreen functionality with an LED-based frontlight; allowing you to read from the Kindle\’s eInk display at night without external illumination. The Paperwhite will have a higher resolution and contrast than previous devices, allowing for improved text clarity. Cover flow, a feature originally offered on the Kindle Fire that allows users to quickly flip through their content, will be featured on the Paperwhite as well. Another interesting new feature, Time to Read, will estimate how much longer it will take you to finish your book based on how fast you read. Amazon will offer the Wi-Fi only Paperwhite as well as the Paperwhite 3G, which will also support Wi-Fi but feature a free 3G connection for downloading eBooks while on the go.
The Kindle Paperwhite Wi-Fi will cost $120, while the 3G version will cost $180, both with \”Special Offers\” (Amazon ads on the homescreen and screen saver). Special Offer-less Kindle Paperwhites will run $20 more.
Amazon\’s light and budget-friendly eReader will receive a cosmetic makeover and slight performance improvement. Amazon is also dropping the price down from $79 with special offers to $69, with Special Offers.
The new, cheaper Kindle eReader is currently available for purchase. The updated Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD ship on September 14, The Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Paperwhite 3G ship October 1 and both of the 8.9-inch Fire HD models are expected to ship November 20.