Amazon on Thursday heated up the tablet competition with the introduction of new Kindle Fire HD tablets, including a model with LTE capabilities and another model with an 8.9-inch screen that can display images at a resolution of 1920 by 1200 pixels.
The Kindle Fire HD will also be available in a 7-inch model and the tablets will have storage starting at 16GB, said Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, during an event in Santa Monica, California.
The 8.9-inch Kindle HD tablet will be priced at US$299 for 16GB of storage, and will be available on Nov. 20. The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD model will be priced at $199 and ship on Sept. 14.
The Kindle Fire HD 4G LTE wireless with 32GB of storage will be available for $499, and also ship on Nov. 20. A $49.99 annual data plan provides 250MB of data transfers per month and 20GB of storage in the cloud. The company did not clarify the screen size of the Kindle Fire HD LTE model.
The new Kindle Fire HD devices bring new features, including a larger screen, more storage and mobile broadband capabilities, compared to the original Kindle Fire, which was announced in September last year with a 7-inch screen. The new devices have a faster processor and a front-facing camera, which was not available in the original Kindle Fire.
The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD is 8.8 millimeters thick and will weigh 566 grams. It runs on a Texas Instruments OMAP4470 dual-core ARM processor, which is based on the Cortex-A9 design. The device operates on a dual Wi-Fi range, giving it faster wireless networking than Google's Nexus 7 tablet, according to Bezos.
The new devices also have a HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) port so the tablets can be connected to high-definition TV sets.
The Kindle Fire tablets now have Microsoft Exchange integration. A new email client offers support for Google's Gmail, Microsoft's Exchange and Hotmail.
The new tablets also have features like X-ray, where information about actors is shown on-screen when a movie is playing. A new feature called FreeTime sets time limits for different types of content activity. For example, the new feature can set the amount of time that kids can play games during a day.
Amazon has also re-priced the original Kindle Fire to $159, with more RAM and a faster processor. The tablet was originally priced at $199.
The first Kindle Fire became Amazon's most successful product, and in its first year the device captured 22 percent of U.S. tablet sales, according to the company.
This year the competition will be stiffer. Google announced the Nexus 7 tablet starting at $199, and the device has been selling very well. Samsung launched a new version of its Galaxy Note and a flurry of tablets with Microsoft's Windows 8 are due later this year, including one from Microsoft called Surface. Rumors also persist of a new, smaller version of the iPad coming later this year from Apple.
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