So the much publicized Amazon event is behind us and we now have a clearer understanding of the hardware Amazon has lined up for our consumption for the next one year or so. The device list — Kindle Fire HD 7 inch, Kindle Fire HD 8.9 inch along with the original Kindle Fire — is impressive as it now bears a clear testimony of Amazon’ growing confidence to not just remain confined to the 7 inch sphere but to venture out and pose a challenge to biggies in the business as well, which includes even the mighty iPad as well. This confronts us to the all important question, is the new breed of Kindle Fires has it enough to smolder its competition. Let’s find that out.
Kindle Fire 7
That’s the original Kindle Fire that has been provided with a fresh lease of life thanks to a much reduced price. The original is now down to just $159 which is insanely low for a quality tablet device that had the world tablet buying crowd rooting for it during the last holiday season. However, a reduced price is not the only thing that Amazon is banking on to entice budget tablet buying crowd once again as we approach a new holiday season.
Externally, the new entry level Kindle Fire is the same as its predecessor though the real improvement has been meted out to its interior. So its a new faster processor (1.2 GHz) that lies in the heart of it all with double the RAM capacity (1 GB) which Amazon is claiming will provide for 40 percent more processing capability. Amazon is also claiming a better performance as well with 9 hours being the back-up time quoted. Internal memory though continues to be the same 8 GB of which about 5.5 GB will be available for user storage. However, there is the free unlimited cloud storage that has been made available for all Amazon content. Connecting to the net is via Wi-Fi.
Kindle Fire 7 HD
This is an entirely new development to take up the slot vacated by the erstwhile Kindle Fire. Looks wise, the 7 incher sports more rounded corners and is a bit less rectangular than its elder cousin. Its refreshingly new though there also are enough new features included to keep us glued to it apart from the external design.
For instance, there is the new HD display which makes things more life like than ever before on an Amazon tablet. With a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, it translates to a quite impressive 216 pixels per inch which also is the same as the segment leader Nexus 7. The display has been rendered more crisp and sharp with a lot less glare by laminating the bottom LCD screen with the touch sensor layer on top with zero air gap in between. Further, the Kindle Fire HD does not depend on just IPS technology to allow for a richer color reproduction but also includes an advanced polarizing filter applied directly to the LCD panel to ensure a wider viewing angle while retaining the same color depth.
Another aspect where Amazon has put in a lot of effort is the tablet’s Wi-Fi capability. The tablet now boasts of dual bands dual antennas Wi-Fi which, as per Amazon, will ensure a seamless connection to the net at all times. Amazon is claiming dual Wi-Fi antennas and Multiple In/Multiple Out (MIMO) technology a first for any tablet so far which will allow the Kindle Fire HD to be operated the farthest from a designated Wi-Fi hotspot, the least dropped or missed calls and the best performance for streaming HD content.
At it’s heart lies a 1.2 GHz TI OMAP4460 Dual Core CPU which Amazon is claiming to be 40 percent more efficient than Tegra 3 chip with twice the number of cores. The Kindle Fire HD also includes Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core to allow for a more fluid performance.
The tablet is based on Android 4.0 ICS though as is the usual Amazon practice, the OS has been heavily modified to be in perfect tune to the Amazon ecosystem. Also with twice the storage capacity at 16 and 32 GB, there will be enough space to tuck away all the music and video files along with e-books that one might need. Then there also is the free unlimited cloud storage for all your content.
Battery life is a claimed 11 hours which is commendable though it remains to be tested in real life condition before coming up with the final judgement on this.
Another nice feature of the Kindle Fire HD is its dual speaker setup based on Dolby Digital Plus technology to allow for a better audible experience. Of course, the tiny speakers can’t provide for the best of audio quality but does its job quite well. Further with two speakers on board, it is going to be a lot better than what the Necus 7 has to offer. The tablet also includes a mini USb and a micro USB port as well though there is no microSD card support built into it.
The Kindle Fire HD has been priced $199 and $249 for the 16 and 32 GB versions of the tablet which is exactly the same price as the Nexus 7 but with twice the internal memory capacity.
Kindle Fire HD 8.9
This can be considered the real surprise package as this marks the first time the company is targetting the bigger sized tablet segment though it still is price that Amazon is banking on heavily to ensure the device has enough buyers. But then, the tablet is also feature laden and has enough goodies includes to make up for an overall appealing tablet deal.
To begin with, the bigger 8.9 inch display now packs in 1920 x 1200 pixels which means there are 254 pixel per inch for our viewing pleasure. The display also comes with the same technology as it’s 7 inch cousin to allow for less glare and wider viewing angles. Also, with that much of pixels per inch, the new 8.9 inch Kindle Fire HD is right in retina display zone and compares favorably with the latest gen iPad 3 with its ppi of 264.
On the other side of it lies a 1.5 Ghz TI OMAP 4 CPU and a Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core coupled to a 1 GB RAM for smooth tablet performance. Storage options start at 32 ad 64 GB and is available in a Wi-Fi only and 4G version.
The 8.9 inch version of the Kindle Fire HD also shares a lot of similarity as its 7 inch brethren which includes the same Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi setup, Android 4.0 ICS operating system that is tuned to the Amazon eco-system and so on. Then there also is the USB 2.0 port and a microSd card slot as on the 7 inch HD tablet.
However, the one thing that Amazon is harping more is the tablet’s cost effectiveness vis-a-vis the iPad. The Amazon 4G tablet offering also comes with an annual $50 carrier charges (payable extra) which will allow for 250 mb of data usage every month. While that may sound a too-good-to-be-true sort of thing, the devil might be in the details. For 250 mb is paltry in today’s world for a tablet device that boasts of rich multimedia capability. Downloading just a few song videos can get us past that figure in no time.
This apart, the tablet’s price reveals a huge price saving compared to a similar iPad version over LTE network. The 4G capable Kindle Fire HD is priced at $499 and $599 for the 32 and 64 GB versions. In comparison, the 32 GB iPad 3 with LTE capability (and a bigger display) is priced at $729. Add $230 to it more as 4G annual 4G charges and the entire cost of owning the iPad 3 will turn out to be $959 a year. The Amazon offering is over $400 cheaper at $499 for the cost of the device and $50 as carrier charges which add up to $549 a year.
Similarly, the Wi-Fi only Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is priced $299 and $369 for the 16 and 32 GB versions. This too is a lot cheaper than the corresponding Wi-Fi only iPad 3 model which is priced at $499 and $599 for the 16 and 32 GB versions. This boils down to a saving of over $200 over an iPad.
So it is now an interesting scenario and the entire tablet sphere has to re-orient itself once again now the the new generation Kindle Fires are here. Just how much of an impact the Kindle Fire offering will have, we will have to wait and see. For now, you can check out our hands on review coverage of these tablets when the team was in Santa Monica! Visit the Good e-Reader YOUTUBE Channel for full coverage.
If you live outside of the USA and UK, you won’t be able to buy these directly via Amazon, Best Buy and many other major retailers. Our Retail website Shop e-Readers will have them soon, place your pre-orders now.