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If You Want to Back a Winner, Get the New Kindle Fire

Image Credit: The Verge

Today’s Kindle announcements made one thing clear: if any Android tablet manufacturer is going to hold their own against Apple’s iPad or the flood of upcoming Windows slates, it’s Amazon.

It’s weird to type that, because what Amazon announced today wasn’t that impressive. The new Kindle Fire and Fire HD look a hell of a lot nicer than Amazon’s first tablet, but they’re still not up to the build quality of an iPad or a Transformer. The software isn’t that good, app selection is mediocre, and the core carousel interface isn’t exactly inspired. The screen is good, but Apple and others have better. The price beats the competition, but it won’t stay that way for long; Asus’ and Samsung’s prices are a hairs breadth away from Amazon’s, and what’s to stop them from shaving another seventy-five bucks off come Christmastime?

No, Amazon has the edge because they have something no one else in the Android ecosystem, not even Google, has—focus. They don’t just want the Fire and the Fire HD to succeed; they need it to. Amazon is a massive conglomerate, the Internet’s 1990’s Microsoft. They sell server space, shoes, books, IMDB subscriptions, free shipping, and local daily deals. They run a Netflix competitor and an iTunes Match clone. They knocked off Dropbox and bought Audible. You name it, they probably do it, or will do it, or have done it. Like Google, they try everything once and most things twice.

But unlike Google, Amazon has decided to put everything together in one product. IMDB, the bastard stepchild Amazon bought for a lark? It’s now powering contextual trivia searches in your movies.  Audible audiobooks? Amazon will read them to you while you look at your e-ink copy. All of those media services everyone forgets come with their Prime subscription? It’s all at your fingertips on the brand new Kindle Fire. The original Kindle Fire was a portal to Amazon content, just like the Kindle was a portal to Amazon’s books. Sure, it was integrated with all of Amazon’s other stuff, but just because that’s how Amazon justified selling hardware at a loss. The Kindle Fire then didn’t feel like the future of Amazon; it felt like the future of the Kindle, one small part of Amazon, an unfocused web giant.

With the new Fire, things feel different. It feels like Amazon is making the Fire line the priority of the entire company, not just the content departments. Any service they have, no matter how unrelated it might seem, is going to find its way into Amazon’s tablet line up. Bezos has made selling the new Kindle Fire the priority of his entire company. And you know what? What Bezos wants, Bezos gets. Early Amazon succeeded because Bezos focused the entire company on books. He wanted to transform a single industry, and he did. Since then, Amazon has stretched out, grown, gotten bigger. But in the process, it’s gotten slower, messier. It was starting to lose its focus and its edge. Now, things are changing. There’s a goal line, a plan, and a flagship product everybody has to get behind. The Amazon that is is becoming more like the Amazon that was. And the Amazon of the old, the ruthless bookseller that drove everybody out of business? That’s not a company I would bet against.

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Amazon launches updated 7″ Kindle Fire and new 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD

Image Credit: Engadget

Amazon has just introduced an updated Kindle Fire tablet, packing a faster processor, increased RAM, and better battery life. The updated 7″ Kindle Fire has also received a price drop, now ringing in at just $159. Amazon says they want to have “the best tablet at any price”.

In addition, the company is launching a new 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD. The Kindle Fire HD measures just 8.8mm thick, and weighs in at a paltry 20 ounces. The display is an 8.9″ 1920 x 1200 HD IPS display, with a stunning 254ppi pixel density. Inside, the Kindle Fire HD runs on an OMAP 4470 processor. Amazon is putting a heavy emphasis on content consumption using the Kindle Fire HD, so they’ve included dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus. The Fire HD also features improved wireless networking specs, supporting dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi, two built-in antennas, and MIMO.

The Kindle Fire HD will actually be available in 3 models. The 8.9″ WiFi-only Kindle Fire HD comes with 16GB of storage, and will ship on November 20th for $299. A 4G LTE variant will also be available, coupled with an increased 32GB of storage, and a higher price tag of $499, also shipping November 20th. Finally, a 7″ Kindle Fire HD with 16GB of storage will ship September 14th for $199. Specs for the 7″ model remain the same for the most part, but the screen resolution is yet to be confirmed. All models are available to pre-order today.


For LTE service, Amazon is offering a $50/year data plan that includes 250MB of data per month, 20GB of Amazon Cloud Storage, and a $10 Amazon Appstore credit.

Amazon is adding a bunch of new features to the Kindle Fire software, including “X-Ray for Movies”. You can tap on an actor while watching a movie to instantly bring up their IMDb page! In addition, Amazon has updated the Fire email client with “world-class” Exchange support, contact & calendar sync, improved sync reliability, and faster access to new email. Amazon is also including a custom-built Facebook application, which looks much like the Facebook app for iPad, and a Skype application will be available for video calls using the Kindle Fire’s new front-facing camera. As of now, it is unclear if these features will be available to both Fire models, or just the Kindle Fire HD.

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Amazon announces Kindle Paperwhite, refreshed $69 Kindle

Image Credit: Engadget

During a press conference in a southern California hangar, Amazon announced a brand new addition to the Kindle line, the Kindle Paperwhite. With new display technology that Amazon ‘invented’ the front-lit Kindle Paperwhite comes with 25 percent more contrast and 62 percent more pixels than your average Kindle. That all adds up to 212ppi, significantly better than its predecessors. The Kindle Paperwhite has an eight week battery life, and will also come in a free-3G variation.

The Kindle Paperwhite, which comes in at 9.1mm thick, is available to order today, and will ship on October 1st at $119, with the 3G version coming in at $179.

Amazon also announced a refresh to the $79 Kindle, with new fonts, crisper text, and 15 percent faster page turns. Amazon has dropped the price of the entry-level Kindle to $69, which is available to order today. The kindle will ship on September 14th.

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Amazon holding September 6th press event, likely to announce new Kindles

Image Credit: The Next Web

As if there weren’t enough technology-related press events happening in September – with Nokia/Microsoft, Apple, and Nintendo already penciled in – Amazon has thrown their hat in the ring and invited press to a September 6th event in Santa Monica.

The invites just went out, so details are slim at the moment, but the company is likely to announce new products in their Kindle line. The successor to the 7″ Kindle Fire tablet is probably a lock, seeing as it has been rumoured for quite some time already, and we can probably expect updates for the rest of the company’s eBook readers as well. Of course there is always the possibility that we will finally see the oft-rumoured Amazon smartphone, affectionately dubbed the “Kindle Spark”, which the company is said to be building in partnership with Foxconn. Amazon last updated their Kindle products back in September 2011, which included the aforementioned Kindle Fire, an updated $79 Kindle, and the all-new Kindle touch.

CE will be covering Amazon’s announcements live on September 6th, and be sure to check back all month long for what is sure to be a crazy and exciting month in the tech world!

Source: The Next Web