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Amazon unveils new Kindle Fire HD family, targets Apple with 8.9 inch tablet

Amazon has finally taken the wraps off its new range of Kindle Fire tablets. The new range, called Kindle Fire HD are available in the 7 and 8.9 inch screen sizes and come with better screens, faster processors and 4G. The company has also launched a new and cheaper version of the original Kindle Fire, apart from introducing a new e-reader. Let's have a look at the devices

Upgraded Kindle Fire

The new version of the original Kindle Fire comes with a 7 inch LCD IPS multi-touch touchscreen display (1024x600 pixel resolution) with 169 pixels per inch and it runs on the Android operating system especially customised for the Tablet. The processor of the tablet has been given a power boost and is now 40 per cent faster (1.2GHz dual-core OMAP4430 processor) than the one in the original Kindle Fire. The device comes with 8GB of internal storage, out of which only approximately 5.5GB is available for user content.

The device does not sport a camera and on the connectivity front, it comes with Wi-Fi (with Wi-Fi Hotspot) and it also has a microUSB port. The dimensions of the device are 189mm x 120mm x 11.5 mm and weighs 400 gm. The company claims that the tablet will provide up to 9 hours of battery life and can be fully charged within 3 hours.

The tablet is priced at $159 ($40 less than its original price) and will be available in the market from the 14th of this month (pre-orders are already open).

Kindle Fire HD 7

The tablet has a 7 inch HD LCD IPS touchscreen display (1,280x800 pixel resolution) and it also runs on the Android OS especially customised for the Tablet (same goes for the entire Fire HD family). The tablet is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core OMAP4460 processor and users will have a choice between 16GB and 32GB of internal memory.

The tablet has a front-facing HD camera for video calling and on the connectivity front, it comes with Wi-Fi (with Wi-Fi Hotspot) and it also has a microUSB port and a microHDMI port. The dimensions of the device are 193mm x 137mm x 10.3 mm and weighs 395 gm. The company claims that the tablet will provide up to 11 hours of battery life and can be fully charged within 4 hours. For enhanced sound, the company has also provided Dolby Audio dual-driver stereo speakers in the tablet.

The tablet is priced at $199 for 16GB and $249 for the 32GB model and it is available for pre-order. The company will start shipping the tablet from the 14th of this month.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9 & Kindle Fire HD 8.9 4G

The biggest members of the Fire HD family, these tablets sport an 8.9 inch HD LCD IPS touchscreen display (1920x1200 pixel resolution) and are powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core OMAP4470 processor. The tablets are available in 16GB and 32GB of internal memory (for Kindle Fire HD 8.9) and 32GB and 64GB of internal memory (for Kindle Fire HD 8.9 4G).

The tablets sport a front-facing HD camera for video calling and on the connectivity front they come with Wi-Fi (with Wi-Fi Hotspot) and 4G (only in the 4G version), along with a microUSB port and a microHDMI port. The dimensions of the device are 240mm x 164mm x 8.8 mm and weighs 567 gm. The company has also provided Dolby Audio dual stereo speakers in the tablet for better quality sound.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is priced at $299 and $369 for the 16GB and 32GB models respectively, while Kindle Fire HD 8.9 4G LTE is priced at $499 and $599 for the 32GB and 64GB models respectively. The company is also offering a number of affordable 4G tablet data packages for the 4G version of the tablet. The tablets are available for pre-order, but will start shipping from November 20, 2012.

The company has also launched a new e-reader called Kindle Paperwhite that is available for $119 and $179 (for the 3G model). The new e-reader comes with 62 per cent more pixels and 25 per cent increased contrast, a patented built-in front light for reading in all lighting conditions, extra-long battery life, as well as a thin and light design.

The company has also added a number of features in the tablets that include:

X-Ray for Books: Allows readers to see all the passages across a book that mention ideas, fictional characters, historical figures, places or topics, etc. with a single tap.

X-Ray for Movies: Brings the IMDb directly to movies on Kindle Fire HD.

X-Ray for Textbooks: Integrates the glossary directly into each textbook page and assembles related data from Wikipedia and YouTube.

Immersion Reading: Readers can experience their reading with sight and sound.

Whispersync for Voice: Customers can synchronise their Kindle books with professionally narrated audiobooks.

Gaming: The company has worked with leading developers to offer new Android games exclusively on Kindle Fire HD.

Whispersync for Games: Syncs a customer's place in the game and saves unlocked levels, so even if they get a new device, the progress is backed up in the Cloud.

Kindle FreeTime: Gives parents easy-to-use tools to personalise their children's digital media experience.

Cloud-Accelerated Silk Browser: A new version of Amazon Silk and a new email and calendar.

The company is also offering free unlimited Cloud storage with the devices.

Amazon also claims that the original Kindle Fire, launched less than one year ago, has captured 22 per cent of the total tablet sales in the US so far. And this time around, the company is looking to do even more. These is evident from the fact that the 8.9 inch version of the Kindle Fire HD tablet will directly compete with Apple's new iPad offering that sport a 9.7 inch screen and are priced upwards of $499.

The company has also taken the fight to Apple by claiming that its tablet's Wi-Fi offers 41 per cent faster downloads and streaming in comparison to the new iPad. It has further claimed that it is offering the most affordable 4G tablet data package that is almost half of what Apple is offering as of now (see pic below).

There is no doubt that Amazon's new tablets pack a punch, but are they strong enough to knock out the undisputed reigning champion iPad, is something we will have to wait and see. And if the buzz is to be believed, Apple is also planning to launch a 7-inch version of the iPad called 'iPad mini' (along with the iPhone 5) on September 12. If that happens, then things could get interesting very fast. Keep track of this space for more on the same.

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)

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