Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Amazon has unveiled multiple new entries into its Kindle product line, including a kid-friendly version of its Kindle Fire, a tablet computer that will cost less than $100 and what they are calling the most advanced e-reader ever.
The online retailer has also announced upgrades to its Fire OS, a new version of its basic Kindle e-reader that will include a touch screen, as well as upgraded 7-inch and 8.9-inch Fire tablets, Reuters reporters Jennifer Saba and Deepa Seetharaman wrote on Thursday. The upgraded hardware and new products are expected to begin shipping in October.
According to Amazon, the new Kindle Voyage will be 7.6 mm thin and weigh less than 6.4 ounces, making it the thinnest device ever produced by the company. It will use a new, higher-resolution Paperwhite display capable of producing 300 pixels per inch, and the device will feature a front light that will automatically adjust brightness.
Kindle Voyage will also feature a new force sensor which allows users to turn pages by lightly pressing it, and doing so will activate a haptic actuator to deliver a slight vibration, the company said. It will also come with free, built-in 3G to allow readers to download books without having to seek out Wi-Fi hotspots. Kindle Voyage will cost $199 and will be released alongside a touch-screen enabled, $79 Kindle with a faster processor and twice the storage.
“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.”
David Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president in charge of Kindle devices, told the Wall Street Journal that Amazon expects the audience for the new Kindle Voyage to be smaller for the cheaper versions of the e-reader. He said that it was designed to be the best single-purpose device of its kind, and that when they showed it to hardcore readers, they found that it was “difficult to get it out of their hands.”
Bezos’s company also announced a new version of the Fire HD tablet that will feature a quad-core processor that runs at speeds of up to 1.5 GHz, a front facing camera as well as a rear camera said to be capable of taking photos or capturing videos in 1080p full HD. It will also feature a high-definition display with more than one million pixels. It will come in two sizes, six-inch and seven-inch (costing $99 and $139 respectively) and five different color schemes.
Amazon also is prepping a higher-performance tablet known as the Fire HDX 8.9 that comes with a 2.5 GHz quad-core processor and a 339 ppi HDX display which can automatically adjust display color to make book pages more closely resemble paper in any light. The company also said that its graphics engine is 70 percent faster than before, and that it will be the first tablet computer to feature Dolby Atmos audio.
“For the low prices, the Fire HD tablets have strong hardware features,” said Agam Shah of IDG News Service, adding that Amazon claims the devices “provide three times the graphics performance than Samsung’s entry-level Galaxy Tab 4 tablets,” and that the tablets also feature “Gorilla Glass displays, which reduces the chances of screens cracking or getting scratches. The rugged screen is typically available on tablets above $200.”
Both the Fire HD and the Fire HDX will run on Amazon’s new operating system, Fire OS 4 “Sangria”, which is based on Android OS 4.4 KitKat. In addition to updating the visual design of the user interface and adding individual profiles for devices used by multiple people, Amazon said it will be faster and easier to use, able to predict movies and television shows that users would want to watch, and power-saving features that can increase battery life by 25 percent.
“Fire OS is not just a device OS – it deeply integrates with the Amazon cloud to further improve performance and ease-of-use, to enable cross-platform syncing, and to power services that require more processing than is possible on a mobile device,” the company said, adding that it would also include a family-sharing feature for apps, games, audiobooks and video content. Fire OS 4 will be available on all 4th generation Fire devices and will also be available for all 3rd generation Amazon tablets as a free, over-the-air software update.
Finally, Amazon also revealed a new kid-friendly entry into the Kindle Fire product line, the Fire HD Kids Edition. The company claims this is the first actual tablet built from the ground-up for children and it features a quad-core processor, an HD display, and both front- and rear-facing cameras. The Fire HD Kids Edition also comes with a two-year, no-questions-asked replacement policy and one year of unlimited access to 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps and games at no additional cost.
All items are available for pre-order today and will start shipping in October. Pre-order your Kindle Fire today!
Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online