New Kindle eInk eReaders
Amazon has refreshed their Kindle line of e-Ink readers this year with some welcome new features. Common to all the new Kindle ereaders are Kindle Unlimited and FreeTime Unlimited, Word Wise, Family Library, expanded X-Ray for Books, and deeper integration with Goodreads. Let’s take a look at each of the new products.
The Kindle Voyage is the flagship device in Amazon’s eInk-based 7th generation Kindle lineup, and has an impressive number of user experience features that ought to make readers very happy. It’s thin; very thin, at 7.6 mm and weighing less than 6.4 ounces, has a faster processor than previous models, and double the storage space (4 GB vs. 2 previously, plus Amazon cloud storage.)
The touch display is higher resolution, faster to update, and covered with strengthened glass for durability. To avoid glare, the glass is micro-etched, which also helps it to mimic the feel of paper.
The front light is adaptive, meaning it will adjust itself in brightness over time based on the amount of surrounding light and on the amount of time that you’ve been reading; in a dark environment, the eye starts off needing a brighter light, then adapts over a while until that brighter light becomes uncomfortable. The brightness settings and timers can be fine-tuned to your preferences.
Turning pages has gotten a streamlining as well, with PagePress, a force sensor built into the edges of the devices that let you easily turn pages by pressing a little harder on the devices’ bezel. This too can be customized to your preferences.
As many previous Kindles have, the Voyage has the option of including free 3G, charges paid for by Amazon.
“Our mission with Kindle is to make the device disappear, so you can lose yourself in the author’s world,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “Kindle Voyage is the next big step in this mission. With the thinnest design, highest resolution and highest contrast display, reimagined page turns, and all of the features that readers love about Kindle—books in seconds, no eyestrain or glare, readability in bright sunlight, and battery life measured in weeks, not hours—Kindle Voyage is crafted from the ground up for readers.”
The Kindle Voyage starts at $199.
Kindle With Touch
The Kindle With Touch is a little less technically impressive than the Voyage, but what it lacks in technological sophistication, it makes up for in price. At $79, it’s a welcome entry-level Kindle that offers some nice upgrades over the previous entry-level models.
Kindle With Touch is equipped with a touch-screen, as the name plainly states. The processor is faster than previous models so you get the same fast page-turning you do with the Voyage, and also like the Voyage, the built-in storage has doubled.
Fire OS 4 “Sangria”
Amazon has a new operating system for the Fire line, Fire OS 4 “Sangria.” They’ve continued their practice of putting Amazon content up front and easy to purchase, of course, and built that functionality on top of Google’s Android 4.4 KitKat operating system.
New features in Sangria include advanced streaming and prediction to let you get to watching your content faster, without so much buffering, and Smart Suspend, which monitors the times that your device is not in use so that it can predict those times and disable features like WiFi to save on battery life when those features aren’t needed.
They’ve also introduced individual user profiles, so you can have separate content libraries from your kids, and a Family Library feature so that you can share apps, books, videos, etc. with the rest of the family if it’s on your account.
“When we think about Fire OS, we start with what matters to customers—ease of use and performance,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices. “Fire OS 4 improves in both of these areas, and deeply integrates software, content, and the Cloud to deliver services that are only available from Amazon, including Family Library, Firefly, and free cloud storage for photos.”
The new ruler of the Fire HD lineup is the Fire HDX 8.9, a physically light-weight tablet that’s heavy on power with a 2.5 GHz processor, 339 ppi pixel density display with sRGB color accuracy and dynamic light control, Dolby Atmos audio and all of the features of Amazon’s Sangria version of Fire OS.
The display is particularly intriguing. Amazon claims their dynamic light control system helps the LCD glass display look like paper, which is hard for me to imagine, but I suppose is possible. If any of you out there have seen one of these displays out in the wild, please do let us know in the comments or on social media what you think!
New Fire HD
The Fire HDX may rule them all, but the new Fire HD tablets are a compelling offering. Available in two sizes (6″ and 7″) a number of colors, they sell for $99-$139, which is a real sweet spot on price that Amazon is wise to take advantage of.
The new Fire HDs are equipped with quad-core 1.5 GHz processors, front and rear cameras, HD gorilla glass display, and Amazon’s Sangria OS.
“Fire HD is the most powerful tablet under $100,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “The new Fire HD features a stunning HD display, quad-core processor, Dolby Digital Audio, front and rear-facing cameras, incredible reliability, and Amazon’s unmatched content ecosystem—all supported by Amazon customer service.”
Fire HD Kid’s Edition
Maybe the most surprising of Amazon’s new product line is the Amazon Fire HD Kid’s Edition. It really is basically the same as the regular Fire HDs, with three huge differences. First, Amazon knows that kids break things, and the Kid’s Edition has a 2 year warranty on breakage. If the kids break it, Amazon replaces it, no questions asked.
Second, it comes with a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which gives unlimited access to 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, apps and games at no additional cost.
Third, all of that does come at a small premium; rather than $99 or $139, the Kid’s Edition is $149 for the 6′ or $189 for the 7′.
“Fire HD Kids Edition is a real tablet, not a toy,” said Peter Larsen, Vice President, Amazon Devices. “Kids break things, so we added a 2-year, no-questions-asked, worry-free guarantee. Plus, you’ll never be surprised by a bill—it comes with a year of FreeTime Unlimited, which includes over 5,000 books, movies, TV episodes, educational apps, and games at no additional cost.”