Close Video

Science & Tech

Amazon debuts drool-worthy Kindle Fire HD

Amazon set the tech industry ablaze today during their press conference in Santa Monica, Calif. As expected, the Seattle-based ecommerce goliath introduced the latest device that’ll have geeks drooling for weeks: the Kindle Fire HD. Did you really think Amazon was sleeping while Google and Apple struts their stuff? I don’t think so!

Amazon will have at least three different models of the Kindle Fire on store shelves this holiday season, not including their traditional eReaders.

Revamped Kindle Fire

The original Kindle Fire received a price cut of $40, and will retail for $159. Amazon improved upon the original model by adding a larger battery, faster processor, and twice the amount of RAM. The “new” Fire undercuts the competition while maintaining a fluid user experience.

Kindle Fire HD (7-Inch)

The Kindle Fire HD is a lust worthy upgrade over the original model, which certainly had its flaws. The Fire HD costs $199 – the same as it’s supped up little brother. The device runs a faster Texas Instruments OMAP 4470, which is said to outperform NVidia’s Tegra3 SoC. Compared to the original Fire, Amazon doubled the storage to 16 GB, matching most tablets. Plus, it undercuts Google’s Nexus 7 by $50. If you’re not “hot” yet, the Kindle HD features stereo speakers, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, plus HDMI out for video streaming to your TV, and an HD front-facing camera with a custom-built Skype app.

There were, however; a few notable improvements that can be easily overlooked: the sound, processor, and Wi-Fi. Amazon took their R&D a step further by truly including innovative components:

The Wi-Fi adapter supports 5 GHz 802.11N wireless networks, similar to the iPad 3. But, Amazon went above the norm by including two antennas and MIMO wireless technology, which offers improved signal strength. Amazon “claims” their wireless radio is 41 percent faster than the new iPad and 54 percent faster than Google’s Nexus 7 tablet.

The speakers support Dolby Digital Plus technology, which greatly enhance the sound quality on tablets, removing the tinny sound. The Fire HD’s dual speakers with Dolby sound much better than the iPad’s single speaker setup. Dolby Plus is especially helpful while watching movies, as the dialog appears louder and clearer.

Why didn’t Amazon opt for the over-hyped NVidia Tegra3 SoC chip? They claim that their TI OMAP 4470 processor performs 50 percent more “floating point” operations compared to Tegra3 chips – 12 billion compared to 8 billion. The Texas Instrument’s chip also handles memory utilization better, too, compared to the Tegra3.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9

Here’s where Amazon is gunning to dominate the iPad: an 8.9-inch Fire with a Retina-like 1,920 x 1,200 display. Like the iPad, the Fire HD 8.9 can play videos in true 1080p fashion, unlike the Nexus 7. The screen sports a pixel density of 254 ppi, a hair less than the iPad’s 264 ppi. But, for the rest of us, you couldn’t tell the difference. The smaller screen size helps Amazon achieve the remarkable PPI.

At $299 MSRP, the Kindle Fire 8.9 safely undercuts the iPad 3 by $100. Weighing 20 ounces, it is also considerably lighter, too. The Kindle Fire 8.9 also comes in a 32 GB version, bumping the price up to $369, which is still a steal compared to the iPad’s $599 price tag. The other specs, as noted on the Fire HD, remain the same.

Kindle Fire 8.9 LTE

The fire’s still going strong! Amazon surprised us all with a LTE version of their Fire HD 8.9 tablet. The 32 GB Kindle Fire 8.9 HD with LTE costs $499, while a beefier 64 GB version bumps the price to $599. The latter is $129 less than Apple’s 64 GB LTE iPad.

The data plan, though, makes all the difference. Amazon offers 12 months of service with 250 MB for a one-time fee of $49.99. Whereas, the same service on the iPad costs $179.88. Amazon also throws in 20 GB of cloud-based storage for your personal media.

Did Amazon Light a Fire in Your Wallet?

Do you already have your credit card out? The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD ships September 14 and is available for pre-order now. While the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD (Wi-Fi and LTE variants) is also available for pre-order, it doesn’t ship until November 20.