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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  • Larrin - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    The Archos 101 XS has the 4470, and showed good performance but poor battery life. If the HD 8.9" only has a few hours of battery life it will be very disappointing. Is there any way that won't be the case? Would it need a massive battery like the iPad 3, or was the Archos just poorly designed? Reply
  • SanX - Friday, September 07, 2012 - link

    James Pikover wrote "The iPad, by comparison, has a 9.7" 2048 x 1536 4:3 display. The Fire HD 8.9 hits a pleasant median between not enough and too much pixel real estate"

    What level of tech education do you have? iPad has only 264PPI, looks like close to the 300DPI of regular printing materials but in fact due to regular placement of its subpixels ipad must have 300*sqrt(2)=424 or 3300x2475. Only then it will approach minimum of "too much pixels" which is absolutely needed for resolving of all small fonts.
    Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Saturday, September 08, 2012 - link

    Ads on the lockscreen kill any interest I might have in any Kindle Fire. I'm sorry. No. Just no. If I pay $300 for a tablet, I don't want ads on my lockscreen. Nice try, Amazon. Better luck next time.

    Hopefully, Google will release more Nexus tablets that show Amazon how it's done. Ad-free.
    Reply
  • Flying Goat - Saturday, September 08, 2012 - link

    Those tablets all look like they have an absolutely huge bezel. Reply
  • Origin64 - Sunday, September 09, 2012 - link

    It's a shame Amazon is walling its hardware off completely from the Google services I want to use, like the Play Store. It'd be a very nice tablet for a very nice price if they'd fix that. Reply
  • Sub Zero - Sunday, September 09, 2012 - link

    The hardware looks like a nice step up. But if you don't actually OWN the content you buy from Amazon, it doesn't seem worth it at all.

    If they stop copy-protecting their Audible books and state in their purchase agreements that the eBooks, Audibooks and Music that you purchase from them is OWNED by you just like Audio CD's and hardcover books are, then maybe it'd be worth investing in their hardware.
    Reply
  • ol1bit - Sunday, September 09, 2012 - link

    Well,

    Goggle has ads, but I have used a Kindle Fire. You can't even get it to activate without a CC. Way to much money potential loss. I put in a pay as you go cc just so it would work for my Niece, who's parents don't have a CC!

    Stupid. Doesn't say anywhere I seen CC required for use!

    Get the Goggle Nexus tablet, or as I did the ASUS Transformer prime. Much more open.
    Reply
  • shunya9010 - Sunday, September 09, 2012 - link

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  • Wardrop - Monday, September 10, 2012 - link

    Not sure about the name "Paperwhite". Makes me think of "Paperweight" every time I say it. Not a good connotation for a product to carry. Reply
  • svetlyo - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    "The e-readers will be available sooner to over 100 countries. "

    No one seems to know about the ETA of the Kindle Paperwhite for international shipping. The Kindle Touch became available for international customers 4-5 months after its introduction.
    Do you have some information about the situation this year?
    Reply

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