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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  • AmdInside - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Since I already have an iPad 2, nothing in the new Kindles makes me want to pick it up as an upgrade. The Kindle Paperwhite is interesting and may pick it up but I hate how they lowered the amount of memory. Reply
  • seapeople - Saturday, September 08, 2012 - link

    I bet people who own Audi's aren't too impressed with new Corolla's, either. Reply
  • kllrnohj - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    "Both screens are also very dense, at 254 ppi. "

    This is true. It is for the 8.9, but the 7" HD has a 1280x800 screen which puts it at 215 ppi - that's quite a bit lower than 254.
    Reply
  • kllrnohj - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Gah, that should be "this *isn't* true" :/ Reply
  • Jamezrp - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    If you're going to correct even yourself, I suppose I should correct my error too. Reply
  • exostrife - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Can't wait to see some reviews.

    I had the original Fire for the same reason as many: it was cheap. I recently sold it with an eye towards upgrading while the old unit still had resale value and the new Kindle's seem like a great package.

    I was tempted by the Nexus 7 but held off because it didn't really address my prime complaints about the Fire. The extra performance is nice, but honestly wasn't a huge factor for me for what I use the tablet for, and likewise, the other additions it had were not front burner issues for my usage.

    Personally, I use my desktop for most computing tasks. Being touch screen based and battery powered, tablets aren't really useful for most tasks I use my desktop for. To compare them to a laptop, there is no value proposition there as the laptop will easily trump in usability (keyboard etc.) and power for less or same money. Really a tablet is good for media consumption, e-reading, light web tasks, and casual gaming. Essentially--stuff that your smartphone is good at but that is greatly improved by having a larger screen, with just a pinch of stuff you might do on your computer but you'll deal with some pokeyness to be able to do it in a prone position. Some might see a tablet as a laptop replacement, but for me I see the interaction method, power, network speed, storage (etc.) to be an unacceptable trade-off (and I don't commute for hours on a train etc, where I'd like to do work with the least encumbrance possible).

    To me the new Kindle's hit my usage model better than the Nexus 7. My two biggest complaints on the original Fire were the storage space and no video out. The new Fire HD doesn't give me the SD slot I wanted, but it does bump the internal storage and gives the HDMI out. To me this is huge because now the tablet can be used to replace a Roku, not to mention it lets you share photos and videos with family on a big screen. Adding bluetooth opens the possibility of this maybe even giving some sort of Ouya like gaming experience with a separate controller. It also means you could potentially get a real keyboard, or maybe even some sort of local NAS for more storage. If they had a MicroSD slot these things would be a slam dunk for what I think a tablet is good for, and the fact of the matter is, no one makes one with this performance, video out, and a micro sd.

    No jellybean? Haven't used it, can't miss it. The fact that it is a forked Android is more noise than problem too--I've bought 5 Android phones for my family in the last 2 years and used another half dozen at work, and they all roll their own UI anyway. If you can't have the Play store this is of slight consideration, as side-loading APK's is easy and based on my experience with the original Fire, mostly effective.

    I have used many tablets because of work and I just don't see the point of most (including iPad)--they just cost too much money for what they are good at. I think this is what the market is finally starting to get with Google and Amazon more on the money than most.
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Please for the love of god someone give me a wifi-optimized RDP app that gives me a fluid interface to my 1080p desktop PC from my 1080p tablet. It should be possible to get at least 30 fps over wifi, using compression. Once we have that, we can talk about bringing the same thing to a truly remote PC. Reply
  • Roland00Address - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    Been using it for about a year now Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - link

    Yeah well how are you supposed to plug a mouse and keyboard into a stupid icrap? I'm talking about RDP that makes a tablet into a full fledged workstation. So obviously it needs mouse and keyboard support. And not using some stupified $100 iRipoff peripherals either. Reply
  • SantaAna12 - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    "Amazon is not allowing benchmarks at this time" Pffffffffft. End of story....in fact.....why are you writing it? Reply

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