Amazon has launched two new Kindle e-readers and four new Fire HD tablets, and increased its offerings to consumers with a wide range of new features just before the lucrative and critical end-of-year holiday shopping season.
The new devices were unveiled by Amazon through a flurry of announcements on Sept. 17, including the Fire HD Kids Edition, which is their first-ever device aimed specifically at children and is built to take the physical punishment that kids can dish out. That tablet even includes a two-year, no-questions-asked breakage guarantee.
The two latest Kindle e-readers include the new seventh generation of the devices, the Kindle Voyage, which sells for $199, and the standard Kindle, which sells for $79, both of which gain new features and improved performance.
Meanwhile, also unveiled by Amazon is the company's new Fire OS 4 (Sangria) operating system that powers the devices.
The all-new Kindle Voyage is Amazon's most advanced e-reader so far, according to the company, and features a 7.6 mm profile and a weight of less than 6.4 ounces and an all-new design, making it the thinnest Kindle released since the debut of the product line.
The Voyage also includes a new Paperwhite display that has the highest resolution, highest contrast and highest brightness of any Kindle, according to Amazon. The display has 300 pixels per inch and uses specially strengthened glass that's designed to resist scratches, as well as being micro-etched to diffuse light so it can be read in bright light without being affected by glare.
The Voyage has a display designed to adjust the brightness automatically, based on the surrounding light, and features a new page-turning system called PagePress, which lets users turn pages by lightly pressing the screen's bezel with their thumbs.
The new Kindle Voyage also comes with free 3G wireless capabilities, which lets users download and read their ebooks anywhere, anytime and in more than 100 countries, even when they can't find a WiFi hotspot. "Amazon pays for the 3G connection, so you pay no monthly fees and sign no annual contracts," the company announced.
"Our mission with Kindle is to make the device disappear, so you can lose yourself in the author's world," Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, said in a statement. "Kindle Voyage is the next big step in this mission."
The standard $79 Kindle also receives many improvements, including a 20 percent faster processor, twice the storage and a new touch interface.
The Fire HD
The new Fire HD tablets feature 6-inch or 7-inch screen sizes, quad-core processors running at up to 1.5GHz, front and rear-facing cameras, 8-hour battery life, Dolby audio and HD displays that are covered by Gorilla Glass for strength. The 6-inch Fire HD retails for $99 for the 8GB model or $119 for the 16GB model. The 7-inch Fire HD retails for $139 for the 8GB model or $159 for the 16GB model. They each come in five color choices: black, white, cobalt, magenta, and citron.
The new Fire HD models are now available for preorder with shipping to begin Oct. 2, according to Amazon.