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, 24×7, 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.
Amazon’s New Kindle Fire HDX Tablets Feature 24×7 ‘Mayday’ Button
The 8.9-inch model has a resolution of 2560 by 1600, for 339 pixels per inch, a 2.2GHz quad-core processor, gets 12 hours mixed-use battery life, or 18 when reading, includes the 8-megapixel rear camera, measures 9.1 by 6.2 by 0.31 inches and comes with the same storage and connectivity options.
As for pricing, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told NBC in an interview to promote the new tablets, “We make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices,” He added that pricing is “roughly break-even.”
What that means in more specific terms is the 7-inch Fire HDX starts at $229 with WiFi only, and $329 with WiFi and 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE). The 8.9-inch HDX starts at $379 for WiFi only, or $479 with also LTE connectivity.
Amazon also introduced new Origami covers that attach magnetically and fold to help the tablets stand upright in landscape or portrait positions. The cover for the larger HDX also features a fold-away section that offers quick access to the rear camera lens.
“It’s been just two years since we introduced the first Kindle Fire, and the team is innovating at an unbelievable speed,” Bezos said in a Sept. 25 statement. “We’ve worked hard to pack this much hardware, innovation and customer obsession into these prices.”