Amazon unveiled the third generation of its Kindle Fire tablet line, with the high-spec Kindle Fire HDX joined by a $139 Kindle Fire HD which is likely to heat up competition at the entry level.

With the launch of the original Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon led the way in positioning tablets as low-cost media consumption devices, with low margins in hardware to enable cheaper devices, in order to drive sales of higher-margin content services.

While at the $199 price point Amazon has seen competition from rivals such as Google, which has followed a similar content-and-devices strategy with its Nexus devices, the new $139 price point lowers the bar to entry even further.

But the Kindle Fire HDX also offers an impressive performance for its price, with the 8.9-inch version likely to be an appealing alternative to Apple’s iPad Mini for some customers.

Unsurprisingly, the company highlighted its content services early in the press release, including “exclusive new features and services like X-Ray for Music, Second Screen, [and] Prime Instant Video downloads”.

The company said that the Kindle Fire family “offers the best solution of digital content – over 27 million movies, TV shows, songs, apps, games, books, audiobooks and magazines – including hundreds of thousands of exclusives”.

Interestingly, Amazon has also positioned the devices as “enterprise ready”, with Raghu Murthi, VP of enterprise and education at Amazon, stating that “Kindle Fire is already the second most popular tablet at work in the US”.

Enterprise-friendly features highlighted include WiFi with WPA2 support “for secure access to corporate apps, documents and resources like SharePoint”, email which “makes it even easier for business customers to set-up their accounts, group conversations by subject, sync their email and more”, built-in Office suite to read documents, spreadsheets and presentations, and native VPN client.

As with Amazon’s previous Kindle Fire launches, availability beyond the US has not been detailed.

Kindle Fire HDX

The Kindle Fire HDX is said to feature “beyond HD” displays with “exceptional pixel density (323 pixels-per-inch for 7-inch, 339 ppi for 8.9-inch), perfect 100 per cent sRGB colour accuracy, reduced glare, dynamic image contrast, and improved brightness”. It is powered by a 2.2GHz quadcore Snapdragon 800 processor, with the company claiming that they are “the only tablets with a processor over 2GHz.”

The company also said that the 8.9-inch device is “the lightest large-screen tablet, 34 per cent lighter than the previous generation”. It runs the latest version of Amazon’s Fire OS – Fire OS 3.0 – a variant of Android which is said to offer “hundreds of new and upgraded features, platform updates, and Amazon-exclusive services”.

A new feature supported by the device is a “mayday button”, which provides free access to full-time technical support.

Several versions of Kindle Fire HDX are available: the 7-inch tablet is available in Wi-Fi ($229) and 4G ($329) variants, while the 8.9-inch is also available in WiFi ($379) and 4G ($479) incarnations. The retailer said that the units are “available on the AT&T network, and for the first time on the Verizon Wireless network”.

These prices are for Kindle Fire HDX tablets with 16GB of memory. Versions with 32GB and 64GB are also available, which with 4G support, push prices up to $424 for the 7-inch device and $594 for the 8.9-inch.

Shipments of the 7-inch device will begin on 14 November, followed by 8.9-inch availability from 10 December.

Kindle Fire HD

Moving on to the new entry-level device, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, said: “Two years ago, we revolutionised the tablet industry with the breakthrough $199 price point for tablets – now we’re doing it again with the $139 price point.”

The Kindle Fire HD has a 1280×800 resolution screen and 216 pixels per inch, which the company said offers 66 per cent more than the previous-generation Kindle Fire. It is powered by a 1.5GHz dualcore processor, which is “60 per cent faster than the previous generation Kindle Fire”.

As with the Kindle Fire HDX, it is powered by Fire OS 3.0.