Amazon debuts new tablets, features
In a year since its introduction, Amazon's Kindle Fire has captured about 22 percent of the tablet market. To strengthen its position in the competitive field, Amazon introduced a few new tablets to suit both avid readers to multitaskers, along with some cool new features.
Kindle Fire HD
New to the lineup are three new tablets: Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HD 8.9" and Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G.
The 7-inch Fire HD which comes with a 1280x800 high definition touchscreen display with anti-glare technology that can be viewed from angles. The tablet uses the MIMO (Multiple In, Multiple Out) with its dual-band, dual Wi-Fi antenna making it 40 percent faster for downloads and streaming compared to iPad 3, Amazon says. Sound quality is improved with Dolby audio and dual-driver stereo speakers. A 1.2 GHz dual-core processor powers the tablet with Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core for videos to playback faster, and the games to react instantly. The front-facing HD camera lets you talk face-to-face on Skype. $199 for 16 GB, $249 for 32 GB, each with unlimited Cloud storage for Amazon content. Preorder now; available Sept. 14.
The Fire HD 8.9" has, you guessed it, an 8.9-inch 1920x1200 display. This Wi-Fi-only model is basically the same under the hood as the 7-inch counterpart, except it has a 1/5 GHz processor instead. $299 for 16 GB, $369 for 32 GB. You can preorder now, but you'll have to wait until Nov. 20 to get your hands on one.
The Fire HD 8.9" 4G adds 4G LTE capability. Amazon also offers a data plan $49.99 for the whole year. You'll get 250 MB per month, 20 GB additional Cloud storage space, and $10 app store credit. Now 250 MB isn't very much especially for 4G use, and there's no cost breakdown posted for overage charges. $499 for 32 GB, $599 for 64 GB. Preorder now, available on Nov. 20.
The basic 7-inch Fire tablet is still alive and well, and it gets beefed up with twice the RAM as the previous version, faster speeds and longer battery life. $159.
For ebook lovers, Amazon improved its reader with the new Kindle Paperwhite. The screen is 212 ppi with capacitive touch. That's 62 percent more pixels and 25 percent better contrast. It's 9.1mm thick and weighs 7.5 ounces. The screen is front-lit and can be easily read even in the sunlight with no glare. There are 6 font styles and 8 adjustable sizes. The battery life is a whopping 8 weeks! The Wi-Fi version is $119 and the 3G version is $179. Ships on Oct. 1.
The very basic entry-level reader is still available with a lower price of $69 (with ad support). It's basically the same as the old one, but with crisper screen.
Kindle Direct Publishing: You can publish your own book in just hours for free. You keep the copyrights. Amazon will distribute it globally. You get to keep 70 percent of the royalties.
Kindle Singles and Serials: Shorter reads, something between a book and a magazine. If it's a series of shorter works, you can buy the entire series up front, and you'll get the installments as them become available.
Whispersync for Voice: Sync up your audiobook to your ebook. If you're listening in the car, it marks where you stopped both in audiobook and ebook, so you can continue reading when you get inside. Or, you can follow along while you're listening to the book.
Kindle FreeTime: New service for parents to monitor their kids' tablet usage. Create a profile for each child, and choose books, apps, games, videos you want him or her to access. Parents can set daily time limits or restrict certain categories, like games and video.
X-Ray: This feature gives you more information of what you're reading or watching. If it's a book, you can get background info on characters, locations, bio of the author. For a movie, you have access to the IMDb, so you can find out more about an actor, director or film. This also works on textbooks, so you can get more information about a topic you're studying.