Amazon held its long-awaited September press conference in Los Angeles last night, where during an extended presentation, it revealed a variety of new hardware and services.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took to the stage, and according to on-site reports, had a distinct air of confidence about him. Judging by the amount of new hardware being revealed, this wasn’t much of a surprise.
He first introduced a brand-new Kindle e-reader, named the Kindle Paperwhite, for which the Amazon R&D department spent four years developing the technology behind the new screen.
The front-lit, capacitive touchscreen provides 25-percent more contrast, improved white and black colours, 62-percent more pixels and has a higher resolution screen, offering 212ppi.
Despite having a light, the battery life is still quoted as being 8 weeks with both it and the Wi-Fi switched on. Priced at $119 for the Wi-Fi and $179 for the 3G version, the Kindle Paperwhite is out on October 1. Sadly, no UK release date has been given for the new Kindle, nor has it subsequently appeared on Amazon.co.uk’s website.
The original Kindle has been given a small overhaul too, with new fonts, crisper text and 15-percent faster page turns. The price has also been dropped to $69, and is £69 in the UK.
Upgraded Kindle Fire.
With the e-reader announcement done, it was on to the Kindle Fire. Initially, it seemed that we weren’t going to see anything new, as a few upgrades to the first Fire were detailed — a faster processor, twice the RAM and a longer lasting battery — along with a drop in price to $159.
However, Amazon actually had three new tablets to reveal, all under the Kindle Fire HD name.
Kindle Fire HD.
The main Kindle Fire HD has an 8.9-inch IPS touchscreen, with a very impressive 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution and 254ppi pixel density. Inside is a Texas Instruments OMAP 4370 dual-core processor, with a 1.2Ghz clock speed, and 16GB of internal memory.
Additional features include dual stereo speakers, with Dolby Digital Plus, an HDMI out, Bluetooth and a high definition forward facing camera. Bezos made a big deal out of the technology behind the Fire HD’s Wi-Fi, as it’s dual-band and equipped with two antennas for the best possible reception.
A host of new software features were introduced too, including Amazon’s X Ray for Movies, which provides details on actors in real-time as you’re watching a move, plus Whispersync for games, so your progress is maintained even when you switch devices. There’s also Skype interaction, a custom Facebook app and a kid-friendly app named FreeTime, that helps restrict children’s time on the tablet.
The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 will be joined by a Fire HD with a 1280 x 800 pixel, 7-inch screen, and a 32GB 8.9-inch version with Amazon’s own 4G LTE connection.
Amazon says that the 7-inch Fire HD will be ready to ship on September 14, when it’ll cost $199, while the 8.9-inch Fire HD will be out on November 20 and cost $299. As for the 4G LTE version, that’s $499 plus a $50 per-year tariff for the connectivity, and it’s also out on November 20.
Kindle Fire in the UK
There was no mention of a UK release of the new Kindle Fire tablets during the event, leaving many wondering whether the rumours would come true or not. Thankfully, shortly after the show was over, Amazon confirmed that the Fire and Fire HD would be available here after all.
The original Fire will cost £129, while the 16GB 7-inch Fire HD will be £159, and the 32GB Fire HD £199. Strangely, the top-spec 8.9-inch Fire HD has been left off the UK release schedule. This is a shame, as the slightly larger screen and its high resolution would have seen it steal plenty of sales from Google and Asus. As it is, the standard Kindle Fire HD is under-powered compared to the Nexus 7, although it does have more memory for the same price.
So, which one should you choose? The Nexus 7 is an excellent buy, with a strong processor and a great screen. The Google Play store also offers movie rental, while Amazon does not, and the Kindle app is available for free to download. It’s also out to buy right now, and not in two months time. The Kindle Fire HD may have more memory, but Amazon’s services are limited, so on paper, Google’s tablet looks like the better option at the moment. Judgement should be reserved until the Kindle Fire HD is released though, as the hardware may tell a different story.
You can pre-order the new Kindle Fire tablets at Amazon right now.