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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  • Death666Angel - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    I am currently owning a cheap tablet that has all I need (1280 IPS panel, 10.1", Cortex A9 Dual Core 1.6GHz, Mali-400, 16GB, mSD Slot, HDMI out). The 8.9" Fire HD looks very nice, but I won't upgrade just to get a better screen. When I upgrade (sometime next year maybe), I will want a better screen and at least a better SoC.
    If I didn't have a tablet, yet, the 8.9" would be very tempting, because of the prize mostly and I like the form factor. The other announcements are not something of interest to me.

    Also, the table on the first page has the 8.9" Fire HD as having a 1080p panel. That is kinda confusing.
    Reply
  • HighTech4US - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    --> I am currently owning a cheap tablet that has all I need (1280 IPS panel, 10.1", Cortex A9 Dual Core 1.6GHz, Mali-400, 16GB, mSD Slot, HDMI out)

    Could you elaborate as to who makes and what the model is for this inexpensive tablet. It sounds interesting. Thanks.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    It's called "Cube U30GT". It is a chinese made tablet with a RockChip RK3066 SoC. There are other similar products like "Window/Yuandao N101 II" (same as Cube nearly, but 32GB), "PIPO Max M1" (the latter is a 9.7" with the usual 1024x768 resolution).
    There are a few problems with it of course (even brand devices have them):
    - quality control is lacking and some people get defects like dead pixels, mushy/unresponding buttons, dead charger, backlight bleed and apparently some tablets were sent out with MVA panels (but there is a exchange program now running I believe)
    - it currently runs Android 4.1.1 but there are some bugs (bluetooth audio delay when watching videos), custom ROMs are being developed though
    - some people report mSD card corruption or that it does not get detected in the first place
    - some people report sub-optimal WiFi reception
    - in order to get full market access you have to do some modding (built.prop and permissions folder)

    The only issue my own tablet has is moderate backlight bleed, but I only notice it in dark rooms with dark scenes on the tablet. I can play any game I have tried so far. I paid 250€ for it because I got it through an importer (it was still 100 to 150€ cheaper than any of the brand tablets I could buy here and faster to boot). If I had bought it from China via aliexpress or the like, people got it for $200 (some more, some less). It is similar to these Korean 27" 2560x1440 monitors that anandtech reported on a couple months back. You can save a great deal of money, but there are risks inherent in the process.
    I was lucky enough that everything worked out great. I've had it for nearly 3 months now and had a great time with it. In the light the Nexus7 and the new Archos devices, the competition definitely got bigger.
    There are good communities about this device out there, flashmyandroid and slatedroid have dedicated forums if you want more information on it.
    It may not be for you or the majority of others, but it is worth checking out at least. RK3066 is trading blows with Tegra3 and other big SoCs that get more coverage and battery life for my tablet is very solid (about 5 to 6 hours of gaming).
    Reply
  • Roland00Address - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    If your tablet has flash (which you can add to the nexus by sideloading), and you have an amazon prime account you can watch amazon instant videos on any tablet via using a browser with "desktop mode." Log into your amazon account. If the video you are watching is free it will say Prime instant videos Watch Now Unlimited Streaming $0.00.

    Unlike netflix you can stream the joy of the West Wing for free.

    Unfortunately there isn't a dedicated app that would making browsing simpler. The Ipad has recently got a dedicated app but that is probably due to the fact that the Ipad doesn't have flash.
    Reply
  • HighTech4US - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    It looks like the 7" models are only clocked at 1.2 GHz vs 1.5 GHz for the 8.9" model.

    http://www.fudzilla.com/home/item/28658-7-inch-kin...

    "but the OMAP 4460 inside the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD is likely to end up slower since it’s pretty much the same chip that we tested in Galaxy Nexus last year. It ends up significantly slower in most benchmarks than the latest flagship phones."

    http://www.fudzilla.com/home/item/28659-nvidia-res...

    No access to Google Play store and again comes with an older customized version of Android.

    "It will be interesting to give this device a test ride, but some of the application we like to test might not be available at the Amazon app store as Kindle Fire in any variation uses some kind of Android now based on 4.0, but doesn’t come with native Play Store support, which is kind of a big thing if you ask us."

    Also what sensors are lacking in the Fire's?

    The Nexus 7 has: Microphone, NFC (Android Beam), Accelerometer, GPS, Magnetometer, Gyroscope

    http://www.google.com/nexus/#/7/specs
    Reply
  • Peroxyde - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Hi,

    I would like to know if it is possible to make the Kindle HD a regular Android tablet? By replacing Amazon system by stock Android or may be even a custom ROM.
    Reply
  • Roland00Address - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    If it has a locked bootloader it would be hard maybe impossible. The original fire had a locked bootloader but eventually ways were found around it.

    That said why would you want the Kindle HD? There are other 1920x1200 tablets on the market right now where you will not have to hack Amazon. Asus TF700, Acer A700, Huawei MediaPad 10, as well as soon to be several Windows 8/RT tablets with similar screens.
    Reply
  • Peroxyde - Saturday, September 08, 2012 - link

    You are right, indeed. It would be simpler to buy an Android tablet rather than hacking the Kindle HD. I wanted to know if it is technically possible. Because if it is easy, and if the Kindle HD has a decent market share, it might be worth the troubles. Reply
  • dagamer34 - Saturday, September 08, 2012 - link

    Price? None of those tablets cost $299. Reply
  • James5mith - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Should be 1920x1200, not 1920x1080.

    16:10 vs. 16:9.
    Reply

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