Amazon updated its Fire tablet line, as well as unveiling an updated version of its Fire platform which “adds hundreds of new features and platform enhancements”.
The company took aim at tablet market leaders Apple and Samsung with the new products, highlighting improved performance and specifications – without playing the price card. As usual, Amazon’s devices are priced competitively, as the company looks to generate additional revenue through the use of its digital content products and services.
The company unveiled a new version of its Fire HDX (8.9-inch screen), which it said features a “startlingly light design – lighter than the iPad Air”. It is powered by a 2.5GHz quadcore processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 805) with a 70 per cent faster graphics engine, “for exceptional speed and fluidity, especially for graphically-intensive games”.
Amazon also said that the 8.9-inch screen has 30 per cent more pixels than the retina display of Apple’s iPad and “perfect colour accuracy (100 per cent sRGB). It also features dynamic light control, which changes the “white point” of the display based on the ambient light of the surroundings “in order to make the page of a Kindle book more closely resemble a piece of paper”.
Other features include “exclusive new audio – with crisp, clear sound and no distortion”, faster WiFi with support for 802.11ac MIMO, and a 4G version is available.
The company has not updated the 7-inch screen version of Fire HDX, which was introduced in line with the previous 8.9-inch device. This will continue to be available, and will receive the Fire OS4 update later this year.
Fire HDX 8.9 is available for pre-order now, with shipping to start early in November 2014. Prices start at $379 (or £329 in the UK), with the 4G version starting at $479 (or £439 in the UK).
At the low-end of the range is a 6-inch device, a size that is also used for ‘phablet’ devices by some vendors, priced at $99 with 8GB of memory (£79 in the UK). It is joined by a 7-inch device at $139 (UK price £119), again with 8GB of memory, with 16GB versions also available.
The tablets will be available in five colours: black, white, cobalt, magenta and citron.
Fire HD has 1280×800 screen (252 pixels-per-inch in 6-inch guise, 216 pixels-per-inch for 7-inch), and is “brighter than the previous generation Kindle Fire HD, with vibrant colours and whiter whites”. It is powered by a 1.5GHz quadcore processor which has “3x the graphics performance of the Samsung Tab 4”.
Other features include VGA front-facing and 2MP rear-facing cameras, Wi-Fi connectivity, and Dolby Digital Plus audio – with mono speakers for the 6-inch device, and stereo for the 7-inch.
Fire HD Kids Edition
The vendor said that because “despite best intentions, kids break things”, it comes with an “unprecedented two-year worry-free guarantee”. And it also includes a twelve-month subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, providing access to “5,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps and games”.
But the company also noted that it is a “real tablet, not a toy”. As with the Fire HD, it has a quadcore processor, HD screen and dual cameras.
Pricing is $149 for a 6-inch tablet, and $189 for the 7-inch device. Shipping will start in October 2015.
Fire OS Sangria
Amazon said the latest version of Fire OS continues with the “content-forward user interface” of earlier devices, but with an updated visual design. It also gains support for profiles, so that family members can have individual email, Facebook and Twitter accounts and personalise other settings on the same device.
It is underpinned by Android KitKat, and also adds ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction), which “predicts the movies and TV episodes you’ll want to watch and starts them automatically”. It also features a Smart Suspend feature to disable features that are not in use to improve standby time.
The company also said the platform “deeply integrates with the Amazon Cloud”, enabling services such as Family Library, so that users can share purchased content with other members of the household.
The platform will be available on all fourth-generation Kindle Fire tablets, and as an update to third-generation devices. It will also make it to the Fire smartphone “early next year”.