We were expecting new Kindle hardware at Amazon’s keynote event today, and that’s precisely what we got. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took the stage to introduce no fewer than six new devices—three tablets and three e-book readers. Among the new introductions are a Kindle Fire with an 8.9", 1920×1200 display and a revised version of the Kindle with a backlit, higher-PPI screen.
That 8.9" device was probably the star of the show. Priced at $299 with 16GB of built-in flash storage, the 8.9" Kindle Fire HD features an IPS panel with a whopping 1920×1200 display resolution. That means a pixel density of 254 PPI, just 10 PPI less than on the new iPad. Amazon says it’s laminated the touch sensor to improve contrast and reduce glare, too, so the slate must be a sight to behold.
Amazon has also outfitted the 8.9" Kindle Fire HD with dual stereo speakers that have Dolby Digital Plus certification. The device offers 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi with dual antennas and MIMO support. A Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 processor sits at the core and purportedly delivers higher floating-point performance and memory bandwidth than Nvidia’s Tegra 3. This new Kindle Fire is only 0.35" thick, and it tips the scale at a pleasantly light 1.25 lbs.
According to Amazon, the 8.9" Kindle Fire HD will ship on November 20 for folks who pre-order today. The $299, 8.9" model will be supplemented by a $499 variant with 4G LTE connectivity and 32GB of flash storage. To feed that monster, folks will be able to sign up for a $49.99-a-year 4G LTE plan with 250MB of data transfer per month, 20GB of cloud storage, and a $10 app store credit.
Amazon also intends to offer a $199 Kindle Fire HD with a 7" display, but "HD" here means a display resolution of only 1280×800. At the very low end, cheapskates will be able to snag a new-and-improved version of the original Kindle Fire (sans HD display) for $159. That device will have a faster processor, twice as much RAM, and longer battery life than the old model. It’s scheduled to ship on September 14.
So, what about those new e-readers?
The updated Kindle e-reader lineup includes the Kindle Paperwhite, a $119 device featuring a backlit display with an increased pixel density—212 PPI, or 62% more pixels than the Kindle Touch. Amazon has thrown in more fonts, so there are now choices beyond Helvetica and the default slab serif typeface, and it’s added Time to Read, a feature that estimates the remaining reading time until the next chapter or the end of the book. The Kindle Paperwhite weighs 7.5 ounces, measures 0.36" thick, and purportedly gets eight weeks of battery life with the backlight on. Amazon plans to ship this puppy on October 1.
Last, but not least, Amazon has announced a 3G version of the Kindle Paperwhite priced at $179, and it’s updated the cheapest Kindle with new fonts, 15% faster page turns, and a lower price tag—just $69.