Amazon didn’t stop at announcing updated Kindle ereaders today. The company is also taking a massive step forward in its tablet game, with the announcement of Kindle Fire HD in the same 7.5″ and now 8.9″ as well, with the latter available in 4G LTE.
The devices are priced extremely aggressively, with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reiterating the company line, “We don’t want to make money when you buy our devices. We want to make it when you use them.”
The 7 inch 16CB base model will run $199, shipping September 14. The larger 8.9″ version in 16GB will run $299, shipping November 20. For $499, which Bezos described as the most popular tablet price, Amazon is offering an 8.9″ 32GB version with 4G LTE.
The larger of the devices has a 1920×1200 pixel screen that comes in at 254 ppi and has a laminated touch sensor that reduces glare by 25 percent. Despite the beefy hardware specs, device is only 8.8mm thick and weighs 20 ounces.
Because content is two to three times bigger in HD, amazon bumped up the other systems to match. The Kindle HD’s OMAP4470 processor can complete 50 percent more operations per second than the Tegra 3. The new tablet also offers dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus, a first for any tablet.
WiFi got a ton of love with two dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) radios and something called MIMO to use WiFi echoes bouncing around the room to amplify signal rather than suppress it — this is the first incorporation of MIMO in any tablet. The result is that Kindle Fire HD is said to have 41 percent faster WiFi than the iPad 3 and 54 percent faster than Google’s new Nexus 7. Lastly, the company killed off the 8GB version, and will start Kindle HD at 16 GB of onboard storage.
Beyond hardware, the device will get tons of services upgrades ranging from Immersion Reading, which combines audio and text-based books, FreeTime which allows parents to manage kids usage time based on content, and massively improved email support emphasizing Microsoft Exchange. Additionally, Facebook and Skype each built custom apps to run on the Kindle Fire HD.
The devices looked fantastic from stage, and with Amazon’s not-joking-around content and services library, they have a real shot at challenging anything currently on the market in terms of all around value. We know where Microsoft and Google stand in terms of competition with the recent release of their Surface and Nexus 7 devices. The final shoe waiting to drop in the tablet wars will happen at Apple’s September 12 event, around which rumors of an iPad Mini (Air, Nano, etc.) have continued to swirl.
The real winner at the end of the day are consumers, who finally have multiple full-featured tablet devices to choose from at incredibly reasonable price points. Let the hands on demo begin!