Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), as expected, announced an upgraded version of the Kindle Fire, but also announced three new Kindle Fire HD devices – with the largest likely to compete directly with the iPad by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) – at its unveiling event Thursday morning in California.
The smallest Fire HD model, a 7-inch display model similar to the original Kindle Fire, is expected to sell for $199; the 8.7-inch Fire HD for $299, and the top-line 4G LTE-support version for $499, which would apparently come with a 250MB-per-month, $50-per-year data plan that would be significantly less than the data plans that currently exist at Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) or AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T). The two smaller versions will have 16GB of storage, while the larger edition will have 32GB.
While the top-of-the-line Fire HD is listing the same price as the current third-generation iPad, the 4G LTE capability included in the Fire HD may give Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) an advantage, because that capability is not available on the existing iPads without a $130 upgrade.
Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has equipped all three devices with a 1920×1200-pixel resolution touch screen that boasts 25 percent less glare and better color contrasts. These tablets also will have Dolby Digital audio, dual antennas for better Wi-Fi reception, a front-facing HD camera and an OMAP 4470 processor. These are also expected to be more than 20 percent faster on Wi-FI than the iPad. These devices also will have Whispersync, which allows users to keep their place in audio books when they change devices, and the same can be said for games – players can keep their accumulated points and achievements in the cloud when they change devices. An X-ray feature will give movie-watchers on the Fire HD access to information about the actors in the movie, and FreeTime will allow parents to regulate time kids spend on games, movies and television shows.
In addition, Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) upgraded its original Fire device with more customization, faster browsing and better-looking animation.