Amazon Kindle Preview: Paperwhite, Fire (2012), and Fire HD 7" & 8.9"by James Pikover on September 6, 2012 7:30 PM EST
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|
|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)|
|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|
|Pricing||$199 (original price; no longer available)||$159||$199/$249||
$299/$369 - Wi-Fi
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.