Amazon had a big day today. Rather than start with the history of the Kindle lineup, I think that we should get right into the juicy details that Amazon announced at its Santa Monica, California, press conference. Care to join me?
Kindle Fire HD
Arguably the biggest announcement – both figuratively and literally – is the Kindle Fire HD. This is a brand-new Kindle tablet, not just an update of an old one. The 8.9-inch Fire HD will come with WiFi-only or WiFi plus 4G LTE as connectivity options, with each option giving you two choices of capacities: 16GB or 32GB for WiFi models, or 32GB or 64GB for the LTE model. WiFi models will start at $299, while LTE-compatible models will start at $499. Pricing for higher capacity models wasn’t announced, but for $50 per year you will get 250MB of data per month. That could be from a variety of LTE providers, as Amazon didn’t specify a carrier partner.
The screen measures 8.9-inches diagonally and will come with a resolution of 1920 x 1200, making for a pixel density of 254ppi. For comparison’s sake, the new iPad has a ppi of 264 – meaning that the Fire HD’s panel is only 10ppi less than the beautiful new iPad’s.
Other specs include a Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 processor (which outperforms NVIDIA’s Tegra 3, according to Amazon), an HD front-facing camera, HDMI output, Bluetooth, and a laminated touch sensor which is good for 25% less glare than traditional sensors.
Kindle Fire HD 7
Much like the Kindle Fire HD, the Kindle Fire HD 7 is not an update to an existing Kindle model.
The Fire HD 7 is not an update to the original Fire. No, this is a brand new 7-inch Kindle Fire. It’s largely the same as the Fire HD: it has the same HD front-facing camera, Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 processor, HDMI, and Bluetooth that its bigger brother has. Differences include a smaller screen with a lower resolution of 1280 x 800, a smaller storage capacity of 16GB, and a price tag that’s $100 less: $199.
Yes, the venerable Kindle Fire is still here with us – and it’s been updated, too! Since the Kindle Fire HD 7 took its $199 price point, the original Fire’s price was cut by $40, making it a small $159. But that price cut doesn’t only get you a Kindle Fire: it gets you a better one, as well. Amazon promises that the Kindle Fire will achieve longer battery life, all while having a 40%-faster processor and twice as much RAM.
The only eBook reader announced at the event, the Kindle Paperwhite is a brand-new member of the Kindle family.
Amazon is calling the Paperwhite the new “traditional” Kindle. It isn’t traditional in the sense of specs, though: the screen has been updated to provide 212 ppi and higher contrasts, with that latter addition coupled with Amazon’s new backlighting system. Speaking of that backlighting system, Amazon has designed it in such a way that won’t drain your battery any more than an older Kindle’s screen would: it will still give you eight weeks of battery life before you will have to plug it in.
$119 will get you the WiFi model, and an additional $60 (total price of $179) will get you the 3G-equipped model.
New hardware wasn’t the only focus of the press event today, though. Amazon also dropped the price of the Kindle to $69, making the retailer’s eBook readers even more accessible to people.
The Fire HD 7, Kindle, and Kindle Paperwhite are all up for preorder today. The former two will ship on September 14, while the Paperwhite will ship on October 1. Meanwhile, the Kindle Fire HD’s shipping date is yet-to-be announced.