Amazon Unveils New Kindles, Fire HD Devices, Fire OS 4

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-09-18 Print this article Print
Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Fire HDX 8.9

For users desiring higher performance from their e-readers, Amazon has unveiled the new Fire HDX 8.9 line, which starts at $379 and includes a 2.5GHz quad core Snapdragon 805 processor with a 70 percent faster graphics engine than earlier Fire models, a lighter weight (13.2 ounces) than previous models, an HDX display with 339 pixels per inch and a new Dynamic Light Control feature, which makes the pages of a book more closely resemble a real piece of paper in different lighting conditions, according to Amazon.

The HDX 8.9 also includes an improved audio system that features Dolby Atmos sound processing, front and rear cameras, 12-hour battery life and support for 802.11ac WiFi. Also available is an optional $59.99 detachable Fire keyboard that includes a trackpad. The Fire HDX devices can also be purchased with built-in 4G capabilities.

The Fire HDX 8.9 WiFi models can be preordered now from Amazon for shipment on Oct. 21, according to the company. Prices are $379 for the 16GB model, $429 for the 32GB model or $479 for the 64GB model.

The 4G-capable versions of the HDX 8.9 can be preordered for $529 for the 32GB model or $579 for the 64GB model.

Fire HD Kids Edition

Amazon didn't leave younger users out when it announced its latest Fire HD tablets. That's where the Fire HD Kids Edition comes in, featuring a quad-core processor, a vivid HD display, front- and rear-facing cameras, Dolby Digital audio and a soft, protective shell casing that can handle bumps and bangs caused by younger users.

The Kids Edition includes a two-year, no-questions-asked warranty replacement policy that covers breakage, according to Amazon. The Kids Edition also includes a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited service, giving young users free, unlimited access to 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps and games.

The Fire HD Kids Edition devices are available for preorder now for $149 for the 6-inch tablet or $189 for the 7-inch model.

Fire OS 4 Sangria

Also unveiled by Amazon is the company's new Fire OS 4 operating system software, which will be included on all of the new Fire devices that will be released in the coming weeks.  

Based on Android KitKat, Fire OS 4 updates the visual design of the user interface and adds Profiles, according to Amazon, so that each user can have his or her own individual email, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and device settings.

Fire OS 4 also includes ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction), which predicts the movies and TV episodes a user will want to watch and starts them instantly, while Smart Suspend develops a device-specific profile for when the tablet is typically not in use. Using that information, the device automatically turns wireless off and on to deliver up to 25 percent more standby battery life, according to Amazon.

"When we think about Fire OS, we start with what matters to customers—ease of use and performance," Dave Limp, senior vice president for Amazon Devices, said in a statement. "Fire OS 4 improves in both of these areas, and deeply integrates software, content and the cloud to deliver services that are only available from Amazon, including Family Library, Firefly and free cloud storage for photos."

Fire OS 4 will be available on all fourth-generation Fire tablets and will be available for all third-generation Fire tablets via a free, over-the-air software update, according to the company. Firefly will be available on Fire HDX 8.9. Fire OS 4 will be available on Fire phone early next year.


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