Amazon intros Kindle Fire HDX tablets, cuts 7'' Fire HD to $139

There's new blood in Amazon's tablet family. Earlier this morning, the e-tail giant pulled the lid off the Kindle Fire HDX series, which bring faster processors and higher-resolution displays in 7" and 8.9" packages.

Both systems are powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor that can run at up to 2.2GHz. Amazon touts a three-fold increase in CPU performance over the Kindle Fire HD, and it says the integrated Adreno 330 GPU delivers four times the graphics performance of the previous generation. Kindle HDX tablets also feature 2GB of RAM, optional 4G LTE connectivity, and batteries rated for 11 hours of "mixed use" and 17 hours of e-book reading.

Not bad.

Amazon has amped things up on the display front, too. The 7" version of the Kindle Fire HDX has a 1920x1200 panel, yielding the same 323 PPI pixel density as Google's new Nexus 7, while the 8.9" Kindle Fire HDX features a 2560x1600, 339-PPI screen. Amazon also claims "perfect 100% sRGB color accuracy, improved brightness, and dynamic image contrast," for whatever that's worth.

The 8.9" Kindle Fire HDX also has other perks, including an 8-megapixel rear camera and a frame made from a "single-piece of machined magnesium with a blend of glass and nylon molded onto the unibody." Those high-tech materials have apparently reduced the tablet's weight to 13.2 ounces, or 0.83 lbs. That's only about three ounces heavier than the Nexus 7 for a larger, higher-res tablet.

Last, but not least, Amazon boasts about a cornucopia of new software features. You can read about those in detail in the official press release. For instance, the new tablets can download Prime Instant Video content for offline watching, and they can stream movies and shows to a PlayStation console or a Samsung TV. Amazon has even added a novel help feature, the Mayday button, which "connects you to an Amazon expert who can guide you remotely through any feature." Unfortunately, according to Ars Technica, users will still be locked out of Google's Play store.

Amazon is already taking pre-orders for the two tablets. The 7" Kindle Fire HDX costs $229 and will start shipping on October 18; its 8.9" sibling is priced at $379 and will follow on November 7.

In related news, Amazon has slashed the price of its 7" Kindle Fire HD tablet to just $139. That device has a lower-res, 1280x800 screen and a dual-core, 1.5GHz processor. Those specs may pale in comparison to those of the 7" Kindle Fire HDX, but $139 is still a very aggressive price for that kind of a tablet.

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