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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Amazon Announces New Kindle Tablets and Readers

Amazon today announced a revamping of their readers and tablets. They are now available for pre-order.I am looking forward to more details on the tablets - I've had a chance to use the original Kindle Fire. Overall, it is a nice little tablet but it lacked some key features, most notably an HDMI port and a USB port that's good for more than just charging and transferring files. A microphone and camera would be nice, too - the original Kindle Fire has neither.

From Amazon, on Sept 6, 2012:
Dear Customers,
Today we're excited to introduce the all-new Kindle Fire HD.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G isn't just the best tablet for the price, it's the best tablet. $499 now gets you a large-screen HD tablet with a stunning 8.9" display, exclusive Dolby audio, dual stereo speakers, the fastest Wi-Fi, ultra-fast 4G LTE wireless, plus our new unprecedented $49.99 one-year 4G data package. Customers save hundreds of dollars in the first year compared to other 4G tablets. Kindle Fire HD 8.9" is also available in a Wi-Fi only model for $299 .
Kindle Fire HD is the world's most-advanced 7" tablet, with a stunning HD display, plus the same exclusive Dolby audio, dual stereo speakers, the fastest Wi-Fi, and 16 GB of storage. Kindle Fire HD is just $199.
We are also introducing the world's most advanced e-readers, Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Paperwhite 3G

You'll do a double take when you see Kindle Paperwhite—we've added 62% more pixels and increased contrast by 25%, so whites are whiter, and blacks are blacker. We've also added a revolutionary built-in front light for the perfect reading experience whether you're out at the beach or at home in bed. Kindle Paperwhite starts from just $119. Kindle Paperwhite 3G is available for $179 with free 3G wireless—never pay for or hunt for a Wi-Fi hotspot. We've also updated our smallest, lightest Kindle with improved fonts and 15% faster page turns—it now starts at just $69.
Details are sketchy right now - as soon as I get more details, I will share them.

 Update, 9/8/2012:
It appears that these new Kindles still do not have a fully functional USB port. I personally would like to be able to plug in a keypad to these devices, because I have "Man Hands" that makes typing on a small 7" tablet difficult. However, the 8.9 inch model should be big enough to make typing easy. And yes, the HD tablets now have an HDMI port, so you can plug it in to your big screen TV. They also come with a microphone and camera, making it a good device for Skype users. And I have to say that $49.99 for a full year of 4G wireless on the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G is a great deal. And the cap is a whopping 250 MB / month! That's a lot less than most of us pay for just one month of internet!. If it just had a way to add a keyboard, it would be THE killer tablet value.

In other news, there is also this from Engadget:
Every new Kindle Fire model is ad-subsidized with lock screen 'Special Offers'
Amazon's roster of fresh Kindle Fire slates won't just be delivering content for your entertainment, they'll also be serving up ads. That's right, each of the new tablets will greet users with "Special Offers" on their lock screens like some of the firm's other e-readers, which matches previous rumors nicely. While the low-end Kindle and Paperwhite devices come in both subsidized and ad-free flavors, its tablet brethren aren't getting the same treatment. Also, there's no word if you'll be able to avoid gracing the advertisements with your eyeballs in exchange for some additional cash once you have the hardware in hand. Alongside messages from other companies, the folks in Seattle promise to offer a $5 credit for both the Amazon MP3 and Instant Video Stores.
Update, 9/10/2012:
Some features that were lacking on the original kindle have been added or fixed in the new models:

  • Text-to-speech
  • HDMI out
  • Still no full USB functionality, but now supports Bluetooth for accessories like keyboards (Yea!)
  • External volume controls
  • Front-facing HD camera
  • Read-out-loud - now available on the new Kindle Fires, but still doesn't appear to be available on the original Fire.
And note that the original Kindle Fire 7" has had its price cut to $159. It's received a minor update, getting a faster processor, more RAM, and longer battery life.

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