Amazon is teaming with AT&T to offer a 4G LTE version of its Kindle Fire HD tablet at $500 and $50 a year for wireless service. Photo: Dennis Provost/Wired
Amazon packed a boatload of new products, services and information into its Santa Monica media event Thursday morning. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced a trifecta of new Kindle Fire Tablets, new software services to improve the tablet experience, and updated Kindle e-reader models.
On the e-reader front, Amazon introduced a new E-Ink Kindle, The Paperwhite. It’s 9.1mm thick and 7.5 ounces, with a 212 PPI front-lit display so you can read in the dark — just as we had hoped — and a black, buttonless bezel. New software features designed to enhance the reading experience include “Time to Read,” which gives you estimates of how long it’ll take you to finish a book, or the chapter you’re on, and X-Ray, which helps you learn more about the characters in a book. You can also purchase books directly from author biography pages now.
The base model of the Kindle Paperwhite is $119; the 3G version is $179. These are available for order today, and will begin shipping Oct. 1. Amazon also dropped the price of the original Kindle from $79 to $69. It features minor improvements to fonts and texts, and will begin shipping Sept.14.
The bigger deal, however, is the company’s new tablet. Amazon debuted a next-generation Kindle Fire: The Kindle Fire HD. It’s got great guts, with a TI OMAP 4470 Processor and double the RAM of its predecessor, so things should run smoothly. The tablet is 8.8mm thick, weighs 20 oz, and has a 254 PPI 8.9-inch display. For Wi-Fi, it uses MIMO technology, which basically means it uses dual antennas to establish a better connection. It’s the first tablet to incorporate MIMO, which Amazon claims makes its Wi-Fi 41 percent faster than the iPad’s. The Kindle Fire HD also has stereo speakers with Dolby sound and a front-facing HD camera. On the software side, a feature called X-Ray for video makes it a snap to find information on actors and movies through IMDB. It also includes a feature called Kindle Free Time, which lets you set time limits for when your kids are using the tablet.
Amazon also debuted a 4G LTE version of the Kindle Fire HD. It has 32GB of storage, and a data plan that includes 250MB per month, 20GB of cloud storage, and a $10 Amazon credit for only $50 a year.
The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD with 16GB of storage is $199 and begins shipping Sept. 14. The 8.9-inch model is $299 and ships Nov. 20. The Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE is $500 and also ships Nov. 20. The original Kindle Fire got a price drop to $159– but why would you grab that when you can get so much more for only an extra $40?