Amazon Fans the Kindle Fire
The iPad may finally have some serious competition, at least as a media player. At a news conference in Santa Monica, Calif., today, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a quartet of new Kindle Fire tablets, including one 4G LTE-equipped model that undercuts the price of a comparable iPad 3 by $230.
The new Amazon flagship tablet comes with the tongue-twisting name, the Kindle Fire HD With 4G LTE. It sports a 8.9-inch HD screen (1920×1200 resolution), Dolby Digital sound and 32GB of on-board storage. It will be priced at $499, compared to $729 for the 4G LTE /32GB version of the iPad 3. In another stroke aimed at undercutting Apple, Amazon will offer a 4G data plan for the device for only $49.99 per year, for 250MB per month of data and 20GB of Amazon Cloud storage. A comparable data plan for the iPad runs to $230 a year, Bezos claimed, bringing the full first-year cost of the iPad 3 to $959, compared to $549 for the 4G Kindle Fire HD.
In addition to the 4G version, Amazon also introduced a $299 WiFi version of the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, along with a $199 7-inch version. The company also unveiled a second generation version of the original Kindle Fire, with twice the RAM and a faster processor for $159, a $40 price cut compared to the first generation Fire.
Amazon is betting heavily on superior WiFi technology in the new Kindle Fire HD to boost data throughput. All three versions of the HD will rely on 5Ghz WiFi, rather than the more standard 2.4Ghz, and will include multiple antennae to prevent signal fading or interruption caused by gripping the device. Bezos claimed the data rate for the new HD Fires will be 41% faster than on the iPad and 57% faster than the Google Nexus 7.
Amazon is also working on a service it calls X-ray for Movies that will let users call up additional information about the movie they’re watching or the actors by tapping on them while the movie is running. The additional information will come from IMDB, which Amazon owns.
More information on the Kindle Fire HD, along with links to the rest of the news from today’s Amazon news conference can be found here.