The middle of the night (or even late evening U.S. time) seems an odd time to announce a load of new hardware, but that’s exactly what Amazon has done - and it’s a pretty serious lineup refresh for the Kindle Fire.
Leading the pack is the new Kindle Fire HD, which now comes in both 6in and 7in variants, with the former diving into impulse buy territory with a price tag of just £79 for an 8GB model. That’s a rather small display, but Amazon seems intent on proving that cheap doesn’t mean forgettable junk.
In fact, for the price, the Fire HD 6 sounds pretty impressive. It has a quad-core 1.5 Ghz processor with twice the processing speed of the last-gen Fire HD and 3x the graphics power, the 1200x800 screen runs at 252ppi, and you can shoot 1080p video footage with the rear camera.
The new 7in model is effectively identical on the stat sheet, aside from the extra inch of display space (which drops the ppi to 216) and the addition of dual stereo speakers versus mono on the 6in. Those additions bring the Fire HD 7 price up to £120 for the 8GB base version. Both models are available in five colour options: black, citron, cobalt, magenta, and white.
For parents tired of shelling out to replace shattered device screens, the new Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition should bring welcome relief. It has the same guts as the standard Fire HD, but is wrapped in a large kid-friendly frame.
More importantly, it has a two-year warranty for free replacements, along with a year of Amazon’s kid-centric FreeTime Unlimited media subscription service. The 6in model sells for US$149 (about £92) while the 7in version comes in at (about £116).
HDX 8.9 upgrade
Curiously, the standard Fire HDX remains unchanged amidst all of this lineup upheaval, but the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 gets a nice update with a quad-core 2.5 Ghz processor and a 70% faster graphics engine, plus 4x faster Wi-Fi capabilities due to MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) tech. It also brings over the Firefly feature from the Fire Phone to identify and contextualize images and text in the world.
The new HDX 8.9 also enhanced 2560x1600 display, with a new Dynamic Light Control feature that changes the white point of the screen to make digital pages look more like the real thing, and is the first tablet to integrate Dolby Atmos tech for more immersive soundscapes. The base 16GB option will sell for £330 in the UK.
All of the new models run Amazon’s new Fire OS 4, dubbed “Sangria,” which is based on Android 4.4 KitKat and purports to be “faster and easier to use,” says Amazon’s release. It’s better integrated with Amazon’s cloud, and includes a new Family Library feature for sharing content between accounts. Fire OS 4 will also be available as a free update for all third-generation Fire tablets.
The new Fire HD models are set to hit the States on 2 October, while the Fire HD Kids Edition and Fire HDX 8.9 will follow on 21 October. No word yet on UK dates for this fresh hardware, but it shouldn’t be long before we hear.