Thursday, September 06, 2012

Amazon Shows Off New Kindle eReaders And Tablets

During today's press conference Amazon showcased several new Kindle eReaders and a new line-up of tablets poised to butt heads with Apple's iPad and the other Android tablets already on the market.

During it's press conference Amazon came out with guns blazing. For starters they introduced an updated version of the Kindle Touch, called the Kindle Paperwhite. The new Kindle uses a soft frontlight that can be turned on for reading in low light, and it also includes a higher resolution, 1024x768 capacitive touchscreen with "PaperWhite" E Ink technology that has higher contrast than the E Ink Pearl screens used in previous Kindles.

The 3G wireless version will sell for $179 a Wi-Fi-only version will go for $119. Both should be available in October just in time for holiday shoppers. For those budget minded consumers Amazon will still sale the fourth-generation Kindle that was introduced last year as an entry-level model, and it will be available for $69 starting on September 14.

Then there's the all new set of Kindle Fires. Last year's Kindle Fire gets and update with better hardware and a lower price, at $159. Adding to the new line-up there's a new 7-inch model called the Kindle Fire HD, with a better screen, better processor, double the storage (it's now 16GB or 32GB if you prefer) and a very competitive $199 price tag for the 16GB model and $249 for the 32GB model.

Perhaps the biggest announcement was the big boy, an 8.9-inch tablet also known as the Kindle Fire HD. This tablet is squarely aimed at the iPad with Amazon touting the quality of the screen, the responsiveness of the apps, and the inclusion of several of Amazon's own apps.

The Wi-Fi-only, 16GB model will cost $299 while the Kindle Fire HD 4G model will cost you $499 with 32GB of storage and $599 with 64GB of storage (currently way cheaper than the equivalent iPad). With the 4G model users will need a data plan, which Amazon teamed with AT&T to offer. Customers will get 250 megabytes per month on via AT&T for only $50 per year. This isn't much data for the high end user but it would suffice for very light usage. The average user wanting to download songs and music would have to pay for more data in which Amazon said users will be able to upgrade to more expensive 3- and 5-gigabyte data plans directly from AT&T via the devices. Users will also get 20GB of Amazon cloud storage (which normally costs $10 per year), and a $10 Amazon app store credit.

Kindle Fire Specs

Obviously being geeks we want to know what the details, so here goes.

The 8.9-inch Fire HD measures 9.4" x 6.4" x 0.35" and weighs just 20 ounces. The 8.9" display features a 10 point capacitive touch high definition color display with 1920x1200 resolution at 254 ppi, video playback up to 1080p, with IPS (in-plane switching) technology, advanced polarizing filter, and anti-glare technology.

Inside is a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 OMAP4470 processor, dual Dolby Digital stereo speakers, a dual-band WiFi chip, and two antennas for WiFi reception. Amazon claims the Fire's WiFi is 54 percent faster than on the Nexus 7, and 41 percent faster than on the iPad 3.

The 7-inch Fire features a 7" 10 point capacitive touch high definition color display; 1280x800 resolution, video playback at 720p, with IPS (in-plane switching) technology, advanced polarizing filter, and anti-glare technology. For internals it has a 1.2GHz dual-core OMAP 4460 processor, either 16 GB internal memory (approximately 12.6 GB available for user content) or 32 GB internal memory (approximately 26.9 GB available for user content).

The non-HD version differs in it has a 1.2GHz OMAP 4430 dual-core processor and 1024x600 resolution with a only 2-point multi-touch screen.

All Fire models except the non-HD 7-inch Fire will include front-facing cameras, a feature that was entirely lacking in the original Fire. USB 2.0 and HDMI out and Bluetooth. Amazon has not yet provided battery estimates for the 8.9-inch Fires, but the new 7-inch HD model is quoted at 11 hours of continuous use.

On the software side

Amazon made sure to integrate some of its customers favorite features into the new Kindles as well as adding in a few new touches. Right out of the box you'll get access to Amazon library of over 22 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, books, audiobooks, and popular apps and games such as Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, HBO GO, Hulu, Zillow, Pandora, and Angry Birds Space. There is also Integrated support for Exchange calendar, contacts,  email and free Skype video calls. Amazon even included free unlimited cloud storage for all your Amazon content.

One year ago, Amazon introduced X-Ray on the Kindle Touch. With the new Kindle line-up they are expanding the feature beyond books to include not just X-Ray for Books but X-Ray for Movies and X-Ray for Textbooks. X-Ray for Movies will allow you to look up any actor in the scene or movie, see what other movies they have been in, and view photos, biographies and more. The feature will be powered by IMDb (

Two more new additions include “Immersion Reading” and “Whispersync for Voice”.

Immersion reading allows Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD owners to synchronize Kindle text with the corresponding audiobook to create a more immersive and engaging experience, as well as deepen learning and comprehension. As customers read their books on Kindle Fire, text is highlighted while it is professionally narrated via the Audible audiobook.

The new Whispersync for Voice allows customers to synchronize their Kindle books with professionally-narrated audiobooks—customers can start reading a book on Kindle Fire and seamlessly switch to listening to the companion audiobook, picking up exactly where they left off. With Whispersync for Voice, customers can continue enjoying books during commutes or any other time their eyes are busy. When they get in the car, customers can effortlessly pick up the story right where they left off reading by listening to the professionally-narrated audiobook using Bluetooth on Kindle Fire HD or with any Audible app on their smartphone.

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