Amazon has been leading up to something big over the past week. The Kindle Touch went out of stock last week and the Kindle Fire followed soon after. It was suspected that these devices would get a refresh at today's Amazon event and they didn't disappoint.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos came out swinging with a new Kindle called the Kindle Paperwhite. The device is a replacement for the Kindle Touch, but it's so much more. The device features what Amazon is calling the "Nanoimprinted light guide." In essence, it's a frontlit screen that shines a light down to the display for more natural lighting.
As for specs, the device is 9.1mm thin and only weighs 7.5 ounces. The most amazing part of the Paperwhite, however, is its battery life. Amazon says that the Paperwhite can be left on for 8 weeks straight. It features a new UI that makes shopping for books even easier. Last but certainly not least, the Paperwhite can track your reading speed and let you know the average time it would take you to finish a book.
The Kindle Paperwhite is available now for preorder for only $119. The 3G version will be available for $179. Both will ship on October 1.
After the Paperwhite, Bezos announced an update to the original Kindle e-reader. The original was priced at $79, but the new one will only be $69. The only difference between the two is that the case is now black and it features a better screen. Still, it's hard to beat an e-reader at $69. You'll be able to get your hands on the new Kindle much sooner than the Paperwhite as it ships on September 14.
After the new Kindle announcements, Bezos said that the Kindle Singles series has seen increible success. If you're unaware, the Kindle Singles program is essentially a collection of short stories from prolific authors. To date, Amazon has sold 3.5 million Singles and they're wanting to take it further. To that end, they announced Kindle Serials. It's essentially an episodic book where readers will put down $2 for the first story in the serial and receive future stories as they become available.
Bezos was obviously saving the best for last as he announced two new versions of the Kindle Fire. The original Kindle Fire will get more RAM and be 40 percent faster than the original Fire. Even with the improvements, the price of the original Fire will be reduced to $159. It will be available on September 14.
The Kindle Fire HD is where it's really at though. The device is sporting an 8.9-inch screen with a resolution of 1920x1200. The Fire HD is powered by an OMAP4470 processor from Texas Instruments. It can be clocked up to 1.8 GHz, but it's unclear if the Fire HD will be set at that speed. The device also sports dual stereo speakers.
The Kindle Fire HD will sport two wireless antennae to support dual-band Wi-Fi connections at 2.4Ghz and 5GHz. Bezos said this will allow people to download files at 40 percent faster rates than the competition.
The Kindle Fire HD is also getting plenty of software support. Amazon has built an all new email app for the Fire HD that supports Gmail, Hotmal and Yahoo. Facebook and Skype will be building custom apps for the Fire HD. Skype's app will take advantage of the front facing camera in the Fire HD.
The Kindle Fire, both the regular and HD, will feature X-Ray for movies. It's a pop-up that appears every time that you pause a movie. It will bring up bios and acting credits for all the actors in the film. It will also give recommendations based on the actors in the film.
Amazon is also gunning for Apple's dominance in the e-textbook field. They're bringing X-ray to textbook and it's pretty amazing. Students will be able to go from a textbook to Wikipedia articles and YouTube videos on the subject at hand. I wish I had something like that when I was in college.
Bezos revealed that the Kindle Fire HD will actually be available in 7 and 8.9 inch versions. It will also feature an HDMI out for when you want to put something on the big screen.
The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD will retail for $199 and be available on September 14. The 8.9 inch Kindle Fire HD will retail for $299 and be available much later on November 20. Both models will come equipped with 16GB of internal storage.
Bezos said that they're able to offer the Kindle at such low prices because they'll make all that money back and then some from people purchasing products from Amazon. It's a sound strategy and one that the video game industry has been using for years when underselling hardware.
In a final surprise announcement, Bezos announced a 4G LTE model of the Kindle Fire HD that has 32GB of onboard memory. The 8.9-inch 4G model will retail for $499. It will also feature a new data plan that costs $50 a year. It offers 250 MB a month and 20GB of Cloud Storage. As a bonus, you'll get $10 of Amazon Appstore Credit.
In recap, Amazon pretty much nuked the competition in terms of pricing and features. Google had better come up with something fast. A 16GB 7-inch Kindle Fire HD for only $199 is far better than what the Nexus 7 offers. The 4G LTE $500 Kindle Fire should also have the iPad on notice. We'll see how Apple responds next week during their event on September 12.[Image Credit: TechCrunch]