As expected, the big news at today's gadget-filled Amazon event is the successor to the Kindle Fire, which was launched in New York, roughly this time last year. It's not the Fire 2, however -- this is the Kindle Fire HD. It's clear the minute you grab hold of it that Amazon wanted to start over with this device in a number of ways. There's none of that OEM build quality from the first go-round. This is a nice, slim device that really feels as though it can stand up to some of the nicer Android tablets out there -- we'd certainly put our initial impressions of build up there with the Nexus 7.
The corners of the tablet are more rounded than its predecessor, with a glossy bezel going around the display -- a little bit of the rubberized backing creeps out on top of this. There are no buttons here, however. If you want to effect the screen, give it a tap and you get a small virtual menu on the side. As advertised, the display is quite vivid. Amazon talked up the decrease of glare, though it was a bit hard to tell just how successful the company was, given the fact that we're indoors. The device has a matte rear, with that stereo speaker going down a line in a middle, vents on either side.
Performance-wise, this seemed pretty snappy, and we got the pre-loaded (at least on Amazon's own tablet) Hunger Games movie to load quite quickly, thanks no doubt to all of the investment the company put into the WiFi side of this device. Interestingly, there was a little lag as we were flipping through the pages of a book, with the Fire doing a little loading every few pages or so.
More tablets with more ways to connect! Jeff Bezos has just announced another flavor of the Kindle Fire HD, this one offering connectivity to AT&T's 4G LTE network. It's the 8.9-inch model, meaning you're paying a $200 premium for that LTE antenna. But, Amazon has paired that with an absolutely killer data deal. For $50 a year you'll get 250MB monthly. AT&T's current data plans would have you paying $14.99 monthly for that much data. If we were a mathematician we'd say that's a savings of 129.88 a year. But, since we're not, we'll just say that sounds like good value to us. The Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE will be available for pre-order today, shipping on November 20th.
Ever wanted Amazon's X-ray for books to play nice with those school publications as well? If so, you're in the luck. The outfit announced today that X-ray for Textbooks will provide a library of terms to lend a hand with your studies alongside a similar function for movies that's powered by IMDB. Of course, the helpful tech will land with the trio of newslates that were also unveiled at the event.
Amazon just solved one of the bigger dilemmas for parents buying that new Kindle Fire HD -- how to keep the kids in a safe zone for content. It's introducing Kindle FreeTime, a special mode that makes it easier for younguns to navigate while letting the adults create separate profiles dictating what children can access and for how long. The filters are separated by media type, and Amazon even turns the background from black to blue to reassure parents by the glow of the screen on Junior's face. We'd call the parental control a long overdue feature, although we're sure Amazon also sees it as a chance to scoop up an extra Kindle Fire sale or two among families.
Amazon is on a roll at its Kindle press event today, unveiling tons of new hardware, but it's also got some software tricks up its sleeve too: the company just announced X-Ray for Movies, a feature that uses the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) to name the actors for you. As you might know, Amazon already offers X-Ray for books, but this is the first time you can use the feature to get more information about films. To active X-Ray, just pause whatever you're watching and you'll see things like actor bios, a cast list and links to other titles (which you can purchase, natch). Look for it on the new Kindle Fire HD or the smaller $159 Fire that was also announced earlier.
Audiobooks are great for the car. Textual books? Not so much. Now Amazon is bringing those two great experiences together and letting you pick up in text right where your audio book left off. So, if you've listened half-way through chapter three while in the car but you feel like reading something after you get home, your Kindle will bring you in the text exactly to where you stopped listening. And, in the morning when it's time to commute back to the office, the audio version will skip ahead as appropriate!
Amazon also announced Whispersync for Games, which would allow game developers to store game progress in the cloud. Sick of re-starting Angry Birds every time you get a new device? Never again. Take that, piggies.
Amazon has officially unveiled the 2012 vintage of the Kindle Fire, which is reportedly 44 percent more powerful than its predecessor. The service-orientated slate (as opposed to a gadget, which CEO Jeff Bezos claims nobody wants) comes with a bigger battery, a new processor and 1GB RAM -- double that of the 2011 model. The only other change comes in the form of a front-facing camera, unlike its closest rival.
Internally, the device is called the Kindle SD as it now plays second-fiddle to a pair of Kindle Fire HD devices with 1,920 x 1,200 displays, but will be called the "new" Kindle Fire in public. Amazon has also slashed the price of the hardware, which at $159 is $40 cheaper than Google's Nexus 7 -- as well as competing with e-book tablet adversaries Kobo Arc and the forthcoming Nook Tablet replacement with an "incredible" 243ppi display, unless Barnes & Noble are also producing SD and HD hardware. It'll begin shipping on September 14th, with pre-orders expected to begin very soon.
Amazon has made the jump from small to big screens with its e-readers in the past, and its now done so again with its tablets. The company has just announced a new Kindle Fire HD with an 8.9-inch, 1920 x 1200 display (or 254 ppi). The device measures 8.8mm thick and weighs in at 20 ounces, and that high-res screen has a polarizing filter on it that promises to cut down on glare -- the touch sensor is also laminated, which Amazon says offers better sharpness and contrast. As for internals, the Fire HD 8.9 (as Amazon has distinguished it) has a TI OMAP 4470 processor, dual speakers, a front-facing HD camera, and HDMI out. As Amazon is happy to point out, it's also the first tablet with dual-band (2.4GHz, 5GHz) MIMO technology, which Amazon says makes the device's WiFi 41 percent faster than the latest iPad. Look for it to run you $299 for the 16GB version when it starts shipping on November 20th. Those looking for some added connectivity will also be able to opt for a Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE for $499 (also shipping November 20th). That also buys you 32GB of storage instead of the standard 16GB, and you'll get 250MB of data per month from AT&T if you shell out an extra $50 a year.
But that's not all, Amazon has also announced a smaller, 7-inch Kindle Fire HD that will run you just $199 (also for 16GB). It apparently has most of the same specs as its larger counterpart, but we're still waiting for specifics. Pre-orders for all three options start today.
Amazon isn't content to limit its attention to hardware today. It just introduced Kindle Serials, a way of consuming a steady stream of content: buy once and you get all future issues of a text, with new segments appended to the old as they arrive. Only eight titles are available to start, but Amazon is promising a modern take on history by offering Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers for free, serialized the way they were many decades ago. Episodes will cost $1.99 a pop, which makes them tempting for readers who just want a small literary snack -- and authors that want to start seeing income in weeks rather than months or years.
We're just kicking off Amazon's Kindle-themed press event today and it seems the company is starting off at the lower end: the company just announced that the $79 Kindle we've been recommending is now going to be the $69 Kindle. Now, CEO Jeff Bezos only briefly mentioned the device in his keynote, and didn't clarify whether there are any cosmetic changes over last year's model (we're guessing not). Bezos did say, however, that the new Kindle will have new fonts, sharper text and 15 percent faster page turns. If you want to avail yourself of that ten-dollar savings, no need to wait: it's up for pre-order today, and will ship next week, on September 14th.
Have you been enviously eyeing the self-illuminating screen on the Nook SimpleTouch with GlowLight, but didn't want to give up your digital library of Kindle wares? Dear reader, today is your lucky day, with Amazon announcing the Kindle Paperwhite. No, not paperweight, Paperwhite. It has a new, front-lit display that will let you read in the dark, and a capacitive touchscreen that goes away from the IR based systems we've seen in the past.
Jeff Bezos tells us that it has 25 percent more contrast than the Pearl screens in the current Kindles and, with 212ppi, it has a 62 percent higher resolution. It relies on a fiber optic like system to direct light down onto the display, not unlike the Nook but, from what we can see, the color is much whiter. It's just 9.1mm thick, the battery is said to last for eight weeks and there are no physical buttons for control. You're entirely dependent on that touchscreen to flip those pages -- which, by the way, are said to turn 15 percent faster.
The interface has seen some tweaks too. The fonts are more detailed now, as they should be with that higher resolution, and you can tweak the brightness of the display with a slider. The software will calculate your reading speed and estimate how long it will take you to finish a given chapter or book and there are now author bios.
Price is $119 for the WiFi version and it ships October 1st! If you'd like a little 3G connectivity with your Kindle, you're looking at $179.