Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Goodness Gracious, Three Kindle Fires

Amazon today showed off three new versions of its Android-based Kindle Fire tablet, giving the line more variety in sizes and features.

Amazon’s new 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD

The new Kindle Fire HD models are 20 percent faster, with faster chips from Texas Instruments that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said outperform Nvidia’s Tegra 3. The tablets start with 16 gigabytes of onboard storage, compared with the original Kindle Fire’s 8GB of storage, claim more RAM and better batteries.

Most notably, Amazon went larger with the Kindle Fire HD, positioning it alongside Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad. One of the newer Fire models has an 8.9-inch HD screen with a 1920 x 1200 resolution display. Amazon claims there’s 25 percent less glare with this screen, too, with a laminated touch sensor. The 16GB, 8.9-inch tablet will cost $299 and ship November 20.

A 7-inch, 16GB version of the Kindle Fire HD costs $199, and ships September 14.

In addition, there’s a 4G, LTE-enabled, 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, that comes with 32GB of onboard storage, 20GB of cloud storage and a data plan, through AT&T, of 250 megabytes per month — for $50 per year. It’s available for pre-order today for $499 and ships on November 20. (To see how this compares with the new iPad — in Amazon’s eyes — check out this chart here.)

The original Kindle Fire tablet now costs $159.

All three are Wi-Fi-enabled, with two antennas; have HDMI ports, full Bluetooth capabilities and front-facing HD cameras.

And all are running on Google Android’s 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. But if history is any indication — the original Kindle Fire was running on a “forked” version of Android, in which Google’s stamp on the OS wasn’t obvious to Kindle Fire users — we likely won’t see anything like a standard Android OS in these new Fires, either.

Other features introduced with the Kindle Fire HDs: Dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus — the first tablet on the market with dual speakers — and Whispersync Voice, which lets users sync between an audiobook and the text version of a book. The tablets also include a feature Amazon’s calling X-Ray for movies, which offers contextual information from IMDb for the video that users are watching.

In terms of apps, the Kindle Fire HDs have some new email capabilities, including improved Exchange support for business users, and custom Facebook and Skype apps.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald