September 25, 2013
New Kindle Tablet With Integrated Tech Support Announced By Amazon
[ Watch the Video: New Kindle Fire Tablets Coming Your Way ]
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Amazon announced a new high-end line to its family of Kindle Fire tablets in a press event yesterday in Seattle.
The Kindle Fire HDX will arrive in both 7- and 8.9-inch models and promises to outperform the previous Fire HD models. Amazon now claims the new tablets have three times the processing power and twice the memory of the older HD tablets, all with a purported 11 hours of battery life.
With the new HDX models, customers who have technical issues or questions will also be able to take advantage of a new feature Amazon is calling “Mayday.” This service provides live, 24/7 video tech support. Customer service representatives will be able to doodle on the owner's HDX screen to guide them where they want or need to go and can even recommend new apps or books to download. The HDX also comes equipped with several security options, including a native VPN client, which should make the HDX ready for the enterprise market. Finally, Amazon cut the price of its Kindle Fire HD tablets to $139 while bumping the spec sheet.
The 7- and 8.9-inch HDX tablets are both lighter and slimmer than last year’s Fire HD, yet the internal components are set to outpace any other tablet produced by Amazon.
Living inside these tablets is a quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor meant to provide three times the power over previous tablets. A new graphics engine and double the memory will also allow games and video to be displayed more fluidly. These images are displayed on an HD display with a higher pixel density than the iPad’s Retina display. The seven-inch HDX, for example, boasts a pixel density of 323 pixels per inch (ppi) to the 7.9-inch iPad mini’s 163 ppi. The 8.9-inch model has a screen with 339 ppi compared to the 9.7-inch iPad’s 264 ppi. Amazon says this screen provides perfect color accuracy and improved brightness.
Also, the improved screen isn’t expected to take a toll on battery life. Amazon’s press sheet says the HDX tablets can handle up to 11 hours of “mixed use.” When using the tablet as an e-reader, the battery should last as long as 17 hours. Amazon also continues its trend of building its own version of Google’s Android called “Fire OS.” This year’s version is called “Mojito,” and it’s built upon “Jelly Bean,” or Android 4.1-4.3.
"We have always wanted to build hardware that disappears and gets out of the way," said Jeff Bezos in an interview with USA Today's Edward Baig. "When you're reading a book you don't think about the glue and the stitching."
Amazon says the Mayday feature puts live tech support directly on the owner's HDX screen. Simply tapping the Mayday button will bring up a window on the screen containing a real live person within 15 seconds. To provide an extra bit of privacy, customer service representatives can only see the customer’s screen; they can’t use the tablet’s front-facing camera to see Kindle Fire HDX customers. Customers can speak directly to the representative and ask them questions about how to perform certain tasks on their tablet.
"Everybody has that feeling from time to time, no matter how sophisticated of a user you are," said Bezos explaining the new feature.
"There are things we do every day, and we get pretty good at it … and then things in the settings menus or unusual features that we only do every couple of months or once a year," he said in the USA Today interview.
Mayday representatives will be ready when the first new HDX tablets start shipping in October. The seven-inch Wi-Fi-only model costs $229 and will begin shipping October 18. A 4G-enabled model will also be available for $329 and will begin shipping November 14. The Wi-Fi-only 8.9-inch HDX costs $379 and begins shipping November 7, while that model's 4G version costs $100 more and won’t ship until December 10.