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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  • Thrakazog - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    I'm thinking Amazon is gonna catch H.E. double hockey sticks for this. All models of the Fire, both HD and regular, are ad-supported. But no mention of it in the presentation. On Amazon's website, all pictures of the fire with the home screen up fail to show the ads.....even though it clearly states (if you click on the link in the description) that the home screen will have ads on it. I really thought they had something here......but every other manufacturer can just sell at the same high prices they always have and advertise "Ad-Free" now....... Reply
  • MadMan007 - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Leaving lights on to read is a hassle, wastes precious electricity, and isn't very easy on the eyes


    "...isn't very easy on the eyes." What? The human eye evolved to see things based on reflected light. If anything isn't easy on the eyes it's reading backlit screens like LCDs. I do not understand how this phrase can be applied to an e-ink screen on page 2.
    Reply
  • Jamezrp - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Our eyes are more easily stressed when we try to read in low-light conditions, or more specifically, when there is a lot of light contrast and we try to pick up on details, like text, under poor light. Now if you've got a reasonable reading lamp, then you won't have any problems. But if you're like me, and likely millions of other people who don't use a reading lamp or a light source directed specifically for a book/e-reader, then it can cause eye-strain.

    In relation to that, an e-reader with a built-in light source eliminates that problem by lighting up the letters themselves, or more accurately, the surrounding area. This removes the eye-strain in the exact same way: by removing the light contrast and making it easier for our eyes to adjust to the light levels and not strain to pick up on the text.
    Reply
  • smartypnt4 - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    I hate to nitpick (username notwithstanding), but the Infinity uses a 1920x1200 screen, which is a 16:10 ratio, not a 1080p screen with a 16:9 ratio.

    Incidentally, I'd never buy a 16:9 tablet. I've owned the new iPad and now I have a 16:10 android tablet, and I can say that I definitely wouldn't want a tablet any skinnier in portrait than a 16:10 ratio.
    Reply
  • Jamezrp - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    You're absolutely right. Mistake on my part. No need to apologize for the nit-picking, really appreciate it! Reply
  • nitram_tpr - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Hi,

    In the spec comparison table it shows the 8.9 HD as having a 1920 * 1080 screen, in the write up you say it is a 1920 * 1200. Which is it?

    Thanks,

    Martin
    Reply
  • Jamezrp - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Indeed, it's 1920x1200. That's a mistake, which will be corrected immediately. Thanks for catching that Martin! Reply
  • GoSharks - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    From your article last year:
    "The Kindle Touch is Amazon's first touchscreen e-reader - past Kindles have used nothing but buttons for navigation, even as competing products like Barnes & Noble's Nook Simple Touch began to incorporate touchscreens. At $99 and $149 for the wi-fi and 3G versions ($139 and $189 for the ad-free Kindles),"

    Your 2011 Kindle Touch prices are wrong in this article.
    Reply
  • silvester51 - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Does this imply that the new kindle is waterproof? Reply
  • Belard - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    These actually look kind of like iPads...

    Somehow Apple isn't suing them... yet?

    They are rectangles with curved corners.
    Reply

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