Earlier today Amazon revealed four new Kindle devices: a new Touch e-reader called the Kindle Paperwhite; the latest update to the Fire (not the Fire 2, just Kindle Fire); the Kindle Fire HD 7", and Kindle Fire HD 8.9". You can read the "liveblog" covering the event here.

Amazon's full-on assault against tablets and e-readers doesn't come as much of a surprise, but their announcements regarding actual hardware are interesting. Sure, everything's thinner, lighter, with a better battery and plenty of new software features. But all of the tablet devices are also running on TI's OMAP chips. In order, the Fire (2012) uses the 4430, Fire HD 7" has the 4460, and the 8.9" has the 4470. 

Benchmarking was wholly restricted, so I was really limited with what I could do per device. Both of my Sunspider tests, which would have been skewed regardless due to really shoddy Wi-Fi plus Amazon's Silk browser (which runs a lot of the processing on the backend to produce faster results), were foiled by Amazon representatives. I spoke with Peter Larsen, VP of Kindle at Amazon, and he said they weren't allowing any benchmarks as of yet. So all preview notes are my own qualitative thoughts.

Amazon Tablet Specification Comparison
  Kindle Fire Kindle Fire (2012) Kindle Fire HD 7" Kindle Fire HD 8.9"
Dimensions 190 x 120 x 11.4mm 189 x 120 x 11.5mm 193 x 137 x 10.3mm 240 X 164 X 8.8mm
Display 7-inch 1024 x 600 IPS 7-inch 1024 x 600 IPS 7-inch 1280 x 800 IPS 8.9-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS
Weight 413g 400g 395g 567g
Processor 1GHZ TI OMAP 4430 (2 x Cortex A9) 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4430 (2 x Cortex A9) 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4460 (2 x Cortex A9) 1.5GHz TI OMAP 4470 (2 x Cortex A9)
Memory 512MB

1GB

1GB 1GB
Wireless Single-band Wi-Fi Single-band Wi-Fi Dual-band, dual antenna (2.4GHz, 5GHz, MIMO) Dual-band, dual antenna (2.4GHz, 5GHz, MIMO)
Storage 8GB (6.5GB usable) 8GB (5.5 usable) 16GB/32GB (12.6GB/26.9GB usable) 16GB/32GB Wi-Fi, 32GB/64GB LTE
Battery 16Whr ? ? ?
Pricing $199 (original price; no longer available) $159 $199/$249

$299/$369 - Wi-Fi
$499/$599 - LTE

A few tidbits regarding the latest Kindle Fire tablets (as well as the e-readers). They are all ad-based, utilizing the Special Offers program to help keep the prices down while displaying ads at lock screens and within certain apps. Unlike previous Kindle e-readers though, all upcoming Kindle devices will come with Special Offers built-in. You can't opt-out of the service, even if you plan on using the FreeTime kids application (though there are some barriers currently in place). This isn't necessarily a bad thing; it means interested buyers can get these tablets for low prices because of the ads, not in spite of them. And since they're not really intrusive, I'd be willing to sacrifice a lock screen for an ad.

All three of the Kindle Fire tablets include Special Offers, though the FreeTime application - essentially a kid's-zone where parents can set the duration and which apps, videos, and books kids can access- is unaffected by the Special Offers. I've reached out to Amazon regarding whether there is some sort of guideline for ads when FreeTime is enabled, but I was told definitively that apps taking advantage of Special Offers are fair game. Meaning if you have any app that works in FreeTime that also relays ads, your kids will see those ads, even if they aren't appropriate for kids. The only security there is children who have used up their alloted time will be locked out from viewing any ads...but only if the previously set time parents determine has up and passed.

Whispersync is also available across the entire Kindle family, allowing for books, voiced books, and games to have data saved across any device. Amazon hasn't announced any specific game system, like iOS' Game Center, though I wouldn't be surprised if some service for games sprouted up over the course of the next year.

Kindle Paperwhite: a direct competitor to the Nook Touch Glowlight
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  • Jamezrp - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    As someone with a Nexus 7, the biggest reason I'd switch over is more space. The 8GB version (because the 16GB models are impossible to find) have no space for any of the HD shows I throw on. At least the Fire HD has, base, 16GB. Plus I get the feeling that the screen is much better than the Nexus 7's, which was only decent. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    The Nexus 7 is higher end hardware than the Fires are, probably better designed, and of course RUNNING REAL ANDROID which makes it better in and of itself. There's just zero reason to pick a Fire over a Nexus 7 or an iPad. At $100 I wouldn't pick a Fire over a Nexus 7 or iPad. Reply
  • dagamer34 - Sunday, September 09, 2012 - link

    If Amazon and Google were only selling a product to geeks and nerds, running real Android would be a plus. But they aren't. I hate to be blunt, but it's all about the content stupid and Amazon is king there. It is no coincidence that the Kindle Fire outsold all other Android tablets because it actually provided a use case to buy one. Reply
  • mcnabney - Monday, September 10, 2012 - link

    No, the Fire sold well because it was $200 cheaper than any other Android tablet. It was the worst possible Android experience...... but it was cheap. Reply
  • tuxRoller - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    So, you played with a device for three hours and then the battery died, yet you didn't return it? Reply
  • joshv - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    That was the last time I used it, months ago. I did use it for awhile to stream amazon movies over wi-fi, but I found I had to charge the thing every day, or even more frequently than that. Reply
  • Articuno - Thursday, September 06, 2012 - link

    "Unlike previous Kindle e-readers though, all upcoming Kindle devices will come with Special Offers built-in. You can't opt-out of the service"

    If you expect me to pay over a hundred dollars and see ads on top of it, you're insane. And no, I don't care if they're "non-intrusive". I will not tolerate ads in a product I paid for.
    Reply
  • coder543 - Thursday, September 06, 2012 - link

    the kindle e-readers will not all come with special offers, and you can opt out, and you can always root if you're gonna be that ridiculous.... Nuff said.

    The Kindle tablets on the other hand, are accurately described by what you quoted.
    Reply
  • andrewaggb - Thursday, September 06, 2012 - link

    I think they are selling the fire tablets at cost (or close enough), with the expectation that you'll buy content and watch ads from amazon.

    I agree ads are obnoxious. But you can always buy a more expensive ad-free tablet from somebody else.
    Reply
  • Jamezrp - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Reports today are that Amazon may be making a way for users to opt-out, but they don't look promising thus far. Will update when we know more. Reply

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