Amazon continues to prove itself a serious contender in the tablet space.
On Sept. 25, Amazon introduced its third generation of Kindle Fire tablets, the 7- and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX.
They feature double the memory and triple the processing power of their predecessors, boast resolutions that out-do Apple's Retina display and are the only tablets with processors over 2GHz.
The 8.9-inch HDX can also boast of being the lightest large-screen tablet on the market. At 13.2 ounces, it's 34 percent lighter than the previous Fire (and considerably lighter than the 23-ounce, latest-generation iPad, though a hair over the 11-ounce iPad Mini).
Maybe best of all—that accolade is perhaps better left to the price—is a new Mayday button. For no charge, 24x7, 365 days a year, Amazon is putting help with the device a button-touch away. Amazon's goal is to have users speaking with a representative—who can access a user's screen to point out helpful features and answer any questions—in 15 seconds or less.
Another great new feature is the ability to download content for offline viewing, meaning Prime Instant Video users can download movies and TV shows to watch on a car trip, flight, camping trip, subway ride or anywhere they're without a WiFi connection.
Customers new to Prime will receive one free month of Prime with the purchase of the Fire HDX.
The HDX tablets run "Mojito," also known as Fire OS 3.0, the latest version of Amazon's operating system. Amazon explains, "Fire OS starts with Android and adds cloud services, a content-first user interface, built-in media libraries, productivity apps and low-level platform enhancements to integrate Amazon's digital content and improve performance ... If an app runs on Android, it can run on Fire OS."
They're also enterprise-ready, with included encryption technology, secure WiFi, native VPN client support, Kerberos support for Intranet access and integration with leading mobile-device management (MDM) solutions.
Further, the new tablets feature Second Screen, which turns an HDTV into the main display so a user can, for example, email on the tablet while pushing a movie to her TV. Also on board are Amazon's cloud-optimized Silk browser, email, calendar, Skype, a front-facing 720p HD camera and, on the 8.9-inch version, an 8-megapixel rear camera that takes 1080p HD video.
With every Kindle Fire, users get free, unlimited cloud storage for their Amazon content. Photos and personal content can also be stored on the Amazon Cloud Drive. Amazon offers its tablet owners 5GB free, which it says is enough for 2,000 photos. Music can be stored in the Amazon Cloud Player, with Amazon storing the first 250 imported songs for free.
The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX has a resolution of 1920 by 1200 and 323 pixels per inch, 100 percent sRGB color accuracy and max brightness over 400 nits. It measures 7.5 by 5 by 0.42 inches; runs a quad-core 2.2GHz processor; gets 11 hours of mixed-use battery life (17 when just reading); comes in 16-, 32- and 64GB options; and is available in WiFi-only or also with 4G connectivity from AT&T or (another first) Verizon Wireless.