Amazon recently announced a new lineup of its Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets, just a week or so afterthe last Kindle Fire sold out. It includes a new version of the 7-inch Kindle Fire, as well as a 7-inch "Kindle Fire HD" and two models of 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, one with 4G wireless Internet and one that's Wi-Fi only.
What makes some of the new tablets "HD," and what sets them all apart from last year's Kindle Fire?
The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD
Last year's Kindle Fire sold for $199. For the same price this year, you can get the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, which has a much sharper display and a dual-core processor. It also has 16 GB of storage space, which is more than twice the amount of last year's 8 GB Kindle Fire since about 2 GB of that was taken up by system software.
Those are the under-the-hood improvements, which make the Kindle Fire HD run more smoothly. As far as things that you're more likely to notice go, it now has a front-facing camera for making free Skype calls with, although it still has no rear-facing camera. It also has a much sleeker design than the somewhat industrial-looking Kindle Fire did, and it has a display that's nearly as sharp as the new iPad's Retina Display (which has pixels so small that they can't be seen by the unaided eye at typical viewing distances).
On the downside, like all of the new Kindle Fire models it's now sponsored by ads, which appear on the lock screen and in the corner of the home screen. Amazon has said that you'll be able to pay $15 to remove the ads,though.
The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD
1.9 inches doesn't sound like much of a difference, but because that's how big across the screen is diagonally the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD is actually a lot larger than the 7-inch one; almost as large as the iPad. It has a faster processor and a larger, higher-res display, although it features the same amount of flash memory.
The biggest difference? Aside from being bigger, more powerful, and more expensive, you can get the top-of-the-line version with 4G wireless Internet for $200 extra, or $499 total. After that you'll only pay $49 a year for a 250 MB per month wireless plan.
The non-HD Kindle Fire
If you're not interested in the HD display or the Skype camera, there's a new version of the basic Kindle Fire as well. It still has only 8 GB of flash memory, but it has improved performance and costs only $159 ... or $174 if you pay to remove the ads.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.
- Technology & Electronics
- Handheld & Connected Devices
- Kindle Fire
- Kindle Fire HD