You can make a pretty good case for Amazon bringing on the budget Android tablet, even though it’s so forked that it’s barely recognized. Amazon announced its latest version of the Kindle Fire and a new version of its OS that firmly distances itself from Google.
While the new Fire, called the HDX, wasn’t announced at a event like the first iterations, it might be the biggest jump in terms of capability on paper. Like last year it comes in 7.0 and 8.9-inch variants. And the screens are improved from last year’s which were Retina-class to begin with. The 7-inch goes from 1280×800 to 1920×1200. The 8.9-inch from 1920×1200 to 2560×1600. That makes them 323 and 339 ppi for the density. Those look to be as good as any screen I’ve seen on a tablet. The tablets are packing some top of the line hardware with a 2.2ghz quad core Snapdragon 800 system on a chip. Front and Rear HD cameras are included with a much improved camera app with HDR capability. It’s also roughly a third lighter than the previous generation Kindle HDs.
While the new HDX series continues to be primarily an outlet for Amazon’s Kindle, Audible, and Prime Instant Video services, Amazon appears to be reaching out with its new skin which it calls Fire OS 3.0 Mojito. It now comes with a productivity suite and will be adding Enterprise features as part of the 3.1 update aimed at getting the HDX into the workplace. Though keep in mind, while running the 4.2.2, these do not have the Google Play store or other Google services. The HDX also features on-device tech support. The tablets also seem to have support to a new reading mode that offers much improved battery life while reading books or magazines. That’s on top of a generally improved general battery life that adds an extra hour or two.
The HDX series will come in a wide range of configurations. WiFi 7” models will come in 16, 32 and 64GB for $229, $269, and $309. For the 8.9-inch, it’s $379 for 16GB, $429 for 32GB, and $479 for 64GB. Add $100 for LTE from AT&T or Verizon. Add another $15 if you don’t want the advertisements. For availability, it’s pretty staggered. The 7-inch Wifi will be available October 18th with the LTE version coming November 14th. The dates for the 8.9” are November 7th and December 10th. With the new tablets, the previous Kindle HDs get a price cut starting at $139.