Ever since Amazon Kindle was first debuted and set the tablet world on fire with its $199 price, it’s pushed other tablet makers, even Apple, to meet the demand for slightly smaller and lower priced devices (the iPad mini is coming out in October). Today, Amazon held a conference to introduce several new Kindle models, with larger HD screens and better hardware.
The new, lower-priced Kindle Fire — not to be confused with the 7- and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD models — has improved processor speed (1.2 GHz, but an unspecified processor on Amazon’s store page), twice the RAM as the first Kindle Fire (1GB), and a longer battery life (up to nine hours, according to Amazon, thanks to being “re-tuned to optimize power consumption”). It still lacks a camera, Bluetooth, or a new design: this is really a slight spec refresh and a chance to make an already good product even more price-competitive, with the same 7-inch, 1,024x600, 169 ppi IPS display. Storage capacity is the same as on the previous Kindle Fire: 8GB, which amounts to only 5.5 GB of user storage. There’s no SD card slot, either.
It’s unclear, too, how many of the new software features detailed on the Kindle Fire HD will make their way to this Kindle Fire, but a few important ones have made the cut: Xray for both books and movies, Immersion Reading (simultaneous Audible e-book listening synced to e-book pages), and Kindle FreeTime, a kid-oriented way of managing access to the Kindle Fire.
At $159, the new Kindle Fire is only $40 more than the new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. That could encourage even more Kindle buyers to step up. Then again, the new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD is only $40 more than that, at $199. And it amounts to a $20 price reduction off the previous Kindle Fire, which sold for as low as $179. This is clearly the budget-play color tablet, akin to the Barnes & Noble Nook Color, a 7-inch tablet that costs $149.
And here’s the new Kindle Paperwhite, with a much higher pixel density than any of the original e-ink Kindles, using a really cool fiber optic display that Amazon has been working on for years. They say it’s the best digital book reading experience ever.
The new Kindle models will be ready for ordering on September 14.