September 06, 2012, 8:43 PM — Now that the dust has settled, let's recap today's Amazon event. The rumor mill had a few things wrong this time around, as it turns out. Let's straighten out that score first:
Rumor: There'll be a Kindle Fire With Offers. My speculation was that this device might list for as little as $99. No such device was on hand.
[Update: Whoa, stop the presses. It turns out that in face every Kindle Fire comes with Offers. Amazon didn't mention this at it's event, but thanks to The Verge for pointing out something I missed when scanning the Amazon Press Release:
The new Kindle Fire family comes with special offers that appear on the lock screen. Examples of special money-saving offers that customers will enjoy include a $5 credit in the Amazon MP3 Store and a $5 credit for select titles in the Amazon Instant Video Store. Customers will also receive special offers and screensavers from brands like AT&T, Discover and Intel, such as a special offer of a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card when a customer uses their Discover card to purchase a digital product on Amazon.
Rumor: There would be two 7" Kindle Fires on display (that part was right) but no larger version (that part was wong).
Rumor: A new Kindle e-reader with Paperwhite display. This one was spot on.
Last minute rumor: An Amazon Phone might make an appearance. Nope.
OK with that out of the way, let's re-cap what we saw.
First, the old $79 Kindle e-reader is now going to be $69. It seems otherwise unchanged. It ships on September 14th.
The new Kindle e-reader is called the Kindle Paperwhite. It's essentially an upgraded Kindle Touch. It has the titular paper white, high contrast display running at 1024x768 and a capacitive touchscreen. It also is front-lit. It's supposed to go 8 weeks on a charge, and that's while using the light. There's a $119 WiFi version and a $179 3G version. It ships on October 1st. This looks like an awfully nice e-reader.
On to the Kindle Fire line.
An upgrade to the old 7" Kindle Fire ships on September 14th. It has a new processor and twice the RAM. Amazon says its 44% faster than last year's model. It looks pretty much the same as the old Fire. The price is just $159.
New this year is the Kindle Fire HD. There are a few variations here. First up is the Kindle Fire HD 8.9, that last number indicating the screen size. It has a 1920 x 1200 resolution screen (254 PPI) and runs a TI OMAP 4470 processor. It sports dual WiFi antennae which Amazon claims gives it a 41% WiFi speed advantage over the 3rd generation iPad. It also has stereo speakers (with Dolby Digital Plus audio) and a front facing camera. The WiFi model has 16 GB of internal storage and costs $299. A $499 LTE version comes with 32 GB storage. Both ship on November 20th. With the LTE version you can purchase a $49.95/year data plan that offers 250 MB bandwidth/month, 20 GB of cloud storage and a $10 Appstore credit voucher.
There is also a 7" version of the Kindle Fire HD. It has a screen resolution of 1280x800 but otherwise has the same specs as its big brother. [Update: On further investigation it seems as though the 7" Kindle Fire HD has a TI OMAP 4460 rather than a 4470 processor.] It ships on September 14th for $199.
So there you have it. The new Kindle lineup for this year. Anything look interesting? Once again the Kindle Fires run a highly customized version of Android (signs point to their OS now being based on Android 4) but I don't think we'll know how good, bad, or even different it is until review units get into the hands of journalists. With a ship date of September 14th for the new 7" model, that should happen very soon.
Personally I'm a bit tempted by the Kindle Fire HD 8.9". [Update: Well I was until I learned the device was ad-supported.] It's a size I've not used before and that screen sounds lovely. I'm just not sure how willing I am to sleep on the couch for a month if I bring another tablet into the house. :)
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