Rumors said it might be so, but we just didn’t expect Amazon to challenge in the bigger tablet space. What the company announced on Thursday could be what Android enthusiasts have been clamoring for. Meet the Kindle Fire HD: 8.9-inch IPS display, 254 ppi (1920×1200) and OMAP4470 processor. Want smaller? There’s also a 7-inch model with 1280×800 display.
It’s a big statement from Amazon, and shows that it is dead set on competing in the tablet market. The Kindle Fire HD is a one-up on the slate darling and title holder, the iPad, and everything else out there. It’s got dual Dolby digital plus speakers (a first), which is a huge deal for those who consumer and consume. Now there’s noise coming out of twice the space so your eyes are happier.
There’s a huge focus on Wi-Fi; the Fire HD will take advantage of MIMO and dual-band antennas (2.4GHz and 5GHz), giving users the best possible connection. Theoretically, that means the Fire HD will download content faster than, say, an iPad — nearly instant gratification got even more instant (up to 40 percent faster in some cases).
Amazon said the HD will start at 16GB, which is definitely be a gateway for someone looking to join in on Amazon Prime. The company said it was adding 100,000 Audiobooks (hey those dual speakers might come in handy) through audible, and a new Whispersync with Voice, which can also sync up audiobooks with ebooks, too. Listen to a book, and pick up where you left off in the ebook. Amazon also demoed Immersion Reading, which lets users read along as narration is playing. It’s like grown up story time.
The online giant also introduced X-Ray for movies aimed at giving fans a more transparent look at what they’re watching: more information about actors, directors, etc. Simply pause a movie and IMDb info will pop up. It’s great, until you realize you keep pausing your movie just to get a tiny sliver of info on an actor. Amazon is also adding a new email app. Ugh, finally, awesome; the company is serious, aren’t they? There’s also a custom Facebook app.
Bezos also outlined a Time Limits option for tech-obsessed children. Basically, it allows parents to limit time for different content: books, movies and games. If little Jacob’s grades are slipping, limit his time to just fifteen minutes of video, or 30 on games. Time Limits allows for multiple kid profiles for larger families, too, so everyone is happy.
The 16GB 8.9-inch HD will be ship on Nov. 20 for $299. Amazing! Ugh, but I wish it was earlier. Amazon might be missing out on same sales with the iPad already out, and a Surface on the way. A 7-inch 16GB HD will ship on Sept. 14 (same as the upgraded Kindle Fire) for $199, aligning it to compete directly with the Nexus 7.
The Kindle Fire HD will also come in a 4G LTE flavor, but that version will come with double the internal space at 32GB. It’s a bit pricier, falling at $499, but with that extra coin you get plenty of oomph. It’s actually a pretty amazing price point when you consider Apple’s 32GB 4G models is over $700. For $50 a year, users can get 250MB per month, 20GB of cloud storage and a $10 app store credit (whoopdie doo).
What might hold these two beasts back is the fact that they run a modified version of Android 4.0, not Jelly Bean. That might not be a big deal for the vast majority of folks, but anyone who has used a Nexus 7 will know just how incredible Android 4.1 is. We’ll see when we get a chance for a hands-on.