Amazon is refreshing its line of high-end Kindle Fire HDX tablets with a new 8.9-inch model that's faster and sleeker than its predecessor for the same price of $379.
The Fire HDX has a quad-core processor with a graphics engine that's 70% speedier than the one in the last device. The Fire HDX 8.9 is also equipped to support super-fast Wi-Fi, and is the first tablet with Dolby Atmos, which means that when you listen to headphones, the sound will seem like it's coming from different directions.
Even with the fast processor, the tablet's battery can support up to 12 hours of reading, watching videos, and listening to music, Amazon says. A new feature called Smart Suspend also helps the tablet save battery: It will turn your wireless connection on and off when it's not in use, so you'll still get notifications but won't drain the device.
Amazon also boasts that the new device is 20% lighter than the iPad Air and that its display has 30% more pixels than the iPad's Retina display, making it super-crisp with beautiful colors. The screen also has something that Amazon calls "Dynamic Light Control," which means that it changes the white part of the display based on the light surrounding it to mimic as well as possible what an actual page of a book would look like. This makes it easier on your eyes because it's more like reading a normal printed book.
We tried to capture what that means here. The device in the middle is an iPad — notice how it looks more blue and less warm than the Fire HDX, on the left:
The Fire HDX tablet is running an updated version of Amazon's operating-system, a forked version of Android KitKat that the company is calling Fire OS 4 "Sangria." Like Amazon's new Fire smartphone, this tablet will support Firefly, a feature which lets users scan objects like books, movies, posters, QR codes, and household goods to give you more information about them or make a purchase on Amazon.com. Firefly also comes with a new translation feature: You can take a picture of something in a different language, and the tablet will spit out the English translation.
One of the great features from Sangria is called Family Library. It lets family members easily share content like books, movies, and games, even if they use different Amazon accounts. This feature could come in handy, for example, if you and your partner wanted to read an e-book at the same time, but only wanted to buy one copy.
Amazon is definitely marketing this device to families, so you can also create up to six profiles on each tablet — two "adults" and four "kids."
Like the last Kindle HDX tablets, this new version has front and rear facing cameras, but it also come with free, unlimited cloud storage, so you don't have to worry about running out of space if you're a photo-fanatic.
Finally, Amazon built a new, super-light keyboard for people who think they'll be using their tablet for work. It comes with the most popular Android Office app, WPS Office:
The Fire HDX 8.9 costs $379 and is available for pre-order now. It will start shipping in October.