Amazon was one of the first to start selling Android tablets at cost, meaning they would not make any money off the hardware. This made for some nice hardware and very low prices, making tablets more accessible to those who previously couldn’t afford a year old iPad for $400. It was a turning point in the tablet market, boosting Android from almost nothing to high sales.
Amazon has now announced the successors to its Kindle Fire family, and it has completely gotten rid of the standard Fire. The new base model will be the Kindle Fire HD, and it will offer a 1280 x 800 7-inch display, a 1.5GHz dual core processor, dual Dolby Digital Plus speakers, dual band WiFi and the new Fire OS 3.0 “Mojito.” That may not seem like much, but at only $139 for the 8GB model, it’s an awesome deal. The 16GB model will set you back $169.
But the stars of the show are the new Fire HDX tablets. There’s a 7-inch and an 8.9-inch model available. Both will feature a 2.2GHz quad core Snapdragon 800 processor, the most powerful processor Qualcomm offers, paired with 2GB of RAM. They also have a front facing HD camera, dual band WiFi and dual speakers, and their displays offer 100% sRGB color reproduction.
The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX will sport a 1920 x 1200 display, giving it a pixel density of 323 ppi. It will offer 11 hours of battery life, with 17 hours of battery life while reading. The 16GB model will cost $229, while the 32GB and 64GB models will go for $269 and $309 respectively. It is also offered in a 4G LTE model for both AT&T and Verizon for $100 more to any of the storage sizes.
The 8.9-inch model steps it up with a 2560 x 1600 display, besting even the Nexus 10 in display sharpness. It has a pixel density of 339 ppi, which is pretty incredible for a large tablet. It adds onto the HD front facing camera with an 8MP rear camera that shoots 1080p video. It offers an extra hour of battery life over the 7-inch Fire HDX and is 34% lighter than the previous model. You can get a 16GB model for $379, a 32GB model for $429 and a 64GB model for $479. The 4G LTE model is $100 more for any storage size and is available for both AT&T and Verizon.
Amazon also announced new software to go with these tablets. Fire OS 3.0 “Mojito” is an improved version of Amazon’s fork of Android with a bunch of new features fans of the Kindle tablets will enjoy. Amazon optimized performance and touch latency for a better experience on these new tablets to take advantage of the new hardware.
There is also a new Mayday button, which guarantees tech support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, all for free. Pressing the Mayday button on your tablet will connect you to a representative (the response goal is under 15 seconds) who will help you with your issues by drawing on your display or taking over for you. It allows you to see the representative too. The fact that it’s always available is pretty incredible.
There are also smaller features like X-Ray, which shows info about the movie or show you’re watching and music you’re listening to. Second Screen allows you to send video to a TV to stream while using the tablet for other purposes. And Quick Switch is a new form of multitasking that allows you to use gestures.
Don’t forget: all of these tablets come with advertisements in the software. While it may not be a big deal for some, it’s pretty bad for many. To opt out of ads, you have to pay an extra $15, so factor that into the price of the tablet when buying it (the option to opt out is right next to selecting storage capacity).
All in all, Amazon is releasing some really good hardware at very competitive prices. The fork of Android without the Play Store may be off putting to some, but many won’t care. If you’re interested, head to Amazon and pre-order the devices now. The Fire HD launches October 2, the HDX 7-inch launches October 18, and the HDX 8.9-inch launches November 7. The LTE models of the 7-inch and 8.9-inch HDX tablets launch November 14 and December 10, respectively. We have a lot of waiting to do, but they’ll come soon.