Amazon updates Kindle Fire tablet line

Rick Otto

Just last week Amazon updated their popular Paperwhite ebook reader.  Their basic Kindle ebook reader is available for only $69 and if you prefer a large screen you can get the Kindle DX for $239.  If the Kindle Fire is more your thing, the entire Kindle Fire line has just been updated.

The top of the line Kindle Fire is now the Kindle Fire HDX.  It's available in both 8.9" and 7" versions.  The 8.9" version is 34 percent lighter than the previous 8.9" Kindle Fire HD.  The processor and memory both received a speed boost.  The memory is doubled over the amount in the previous models the HDX replaces and the processing power has been tripled with the use of a 2.2 GHz quad-core processor that powers both versions.  The HDX display provides pixel density of 339 ppi at 2560 x 1600 in the 8.9" version while the 7" Kindle Fire HDX offers 323 ppi at a resolution of 1920 x 1200.  There new displays offer improved brightness and dynamic image contrast.  The battery life is 11 hours for mixed use and 17 hours if you do nothing but read with the 7" version while the 8.9" is simply said to have 10 hours of mixed use.  Both models offer Dolby Audio, Dual Stereo Speakers, and a Built-in Microphone.  The 7" version offers only a Front-facing HD camera while the 8.9" HDX offers a Front-facing HD camera along with a 8 MP rear-facing camera.  The 7" Kindle Fire HDX measures 7.3" x 5.0" x 0.35" and weighs 10.7 oz for the Wi-Fi version and 11 oz for the 4G version.  The 8.9" Kindle Fire HDX measures 9.1" x 6.2" x 0.31" and weighs 13.2 oz for the Wi-Fi only version or 13.5 oz for the 4G version.  Both the 7" and 8.9" Kindle Fire HDX are offered in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB configurations.  They're also available as a Wi-Fi only model or a Wi-Fi + 4G LTE model through AT&T or Verizon.  The 8.9" version of the HDX starts at $379 and the 7" model starts at $229. The 7" model will be available Oct. 18 while the 8.9" model will be available Nov. 7.

There is a feature that is unique to the Kindle Fire HDX and that is the Mayday button, a feature that Amazon is heavily hyping.  If you run into problems or have questions you simply tap the Mayday button and you'll be connected to an Amazon expert.  After appearing on your screen the Amazon expert will co-pilot you through any feature by drawing on your screen.  The service is free and is available 24x7, 365 days a year.  I believe this is a great feature but the Kindle Fire is so easy to use but likely few people will need this feature.

While the Kindle Fire HDX is the top of the line Kindle Fire there's also a lower priced option named the Kindle Fire HD for those who want to move into the Kindle Fire but for a lower price.  The new Kindle Fire HD has the same processing speed and display quality of last year's top of the line Kindle Fire models.  The screen on the 7" model produces 1280 x 800 HD resolution with 216 ppi while the screen on the 8.9" model produces 1920 x 1200 HD at 254 ppi. There's a fast 1.5GHz dual-core processor in both versions.  Both models are said to have 10 hours of battery life in a mixed use environment.  Both models have Dolby Audio and Dual Stereo Speakers while the 8.9" model has a built-in microphone.  The 8.9" Kindle Fire HD has a Front-facing HD camera while the 7" model doesn't have a camera.  The 7" Kindle Fire HD measures 7.5" x 5.0" x 0.42" and comes in at just 12.2 oz while the 8.9" Kindle Fire HD measures 9.4" x 6.4" x 0.35" and comes in at 20 oz.  Both models are available in multiple configurations of storage.  The 7" model is available in configurations of 8 GB or 16 GB and the 8.9" version is available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions.  The 7" Kindle Fire HD is offered only as a Wi-Fi model but the 8.9" Kindle Fire HD is offered in a Wi-Fi only model or a Wi-Fi + 4G LTE model through AT&T.    The Kindle Fire HD will start at $139 for the 7" version and $269 for the 8.9" version.  The 7" model will be avaialble Oct. 2 and the 8.9" version is currently in stock and available.

There have been rumors that an Amazon smartphone is coming at some point.  It's expected to be at least a year off though.  What's more likely in the near time is the arrival of the Kindle TV.  It would be a set-top box similar to the Apple TV but will be heavily based on Amazon's selection of video content.  Amazon is clearly building out their ecosystem with their options of eBook Readers, Kindle Fire tablets, possibly the Kindle TV, and the various Kindle and Amazon apps for Android and iOS.

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