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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  • jahara21 - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    I just pre-ordered the 3G Kindle Paperwhite and it gave me the option to get it without the special offers for an additional $20 (bringing it up to $199). Reply
  • marvdmartian - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Don't know how the new Fire tablets will be, in this regard. But I picked up the lowest end Kindle reader a few months ago (Walmart had it for $79, with a $30 gift card....making it, effectively $49), and it's ad-supported.

    The ONLY time I see any ads is if it goes into standby (after a few minutes of no use, which gives you a full page ad), and if I go to the main menu, which gives you a little strip ad at the bottom of the screen.

    Since I'm not actively using the Kindle when it's in standby, that ad is completely non-instrusive. It's like having a commercial on, in the middle of your TV show, while you're going to the bathroom. The little strip ad is simply ignored. And while it's not really much of an option on an internet tablet, with my reader, I turn off the WiFi (to help battery life), and after a week, the ads are replaced by some fancy pattern, with small text asking you to please turn on WiFi, in order to download new ads.

    Yeah.......I'll get right on that one, Amazon! ;-)
    Reply
  • Hemi345 - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    My thoughts exactly. B&N's Nook Color/Tablet might not have the eco system Amazon's Kindle Fires do, but the hardware is solid and well designed, expandability is there, and the user experience is right on. Reply
  • joshv - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    So I take it that you don't subscribe to cable or satellite TV? Reply
  • tecknurd - Saturday, September 08, 2012 - link

    The ads on Amazon Kindles made me go with a Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch. I selected the Glowlight version. Ads on a product that you paid for is pathetic. Marketing is playing tricks. Amazon should be sued for doing such tactic. It is like Paid Day loans because you are paying like 60% in interest which is against the law. Reply
  • doubledeej - Thursday, September 06, 2012 - link

    Why does every tablet maker (aside from BlackBerry) put the speakers on the back, facing backward? Its almost like they want everybody in the room to hear your tablet but you. Come on, guys! Move the speakers to the front where they belong! Reply
  • Samus - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Tell me about it. My $2000 Samsung 3D LED TV has worse sound than my 30-year old Toshiba 25" clunker because the speakers face the brick wall behind it.

    When I buy a $2000 TV, I don't expect to have to buy an additional $500 soundbar to correct its shortcomings...and it's not just Samsung, it's EVERYONE. Not a single LCD TV I looked at put speakers on the front. Why? For asthetics? Does everyone all the sudden think they're Apple now? Form over function...right.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    My four or five year old Vizio TV has front firing speakers, they still sound like crap. Why would you need to spend $500 on a sound bar regardless? You can get a small amp and some bookshelf speakers for like half that much and they'll probably blow away most sound bars. Reply
  • kmmatney - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    I second this. I also have a Vizio 50" plasma in the basement, with front speakers that suck. I just bought a $35 (on sale) set of logitech speakers + subwoofer - something like this:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    and it sounds great. I have a fancy surround systembuilt into my family room upstairs, which cost a lot more money, but this cheaper solution really isn't bad - as good or better than a sound bar.

    However a sound bar might be needed if you don't have a convenient place to put speakers.
    Reply
  • bigboxes - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    You spend $2,000 on a TV and don't have a dedicated A/V system. Fail. Reply

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