updated 06:04 am EDT, Wed September 25, 2013
Angular design of new Amazon tablets, added Mayday support button
Amazon has revealed its refreshed Kindle Fire tablet lines, including a revised Kindle Fire HD, and new lines with HD displays. The seven-inch Kindle Fire HDX uses a 1920x1200-resolution display while the 8.9-inch version will have a 2560x1600 version, with both models also having the chiseled and unique design with rear-mounted buttons revealed earlier in leaks.
The Kindle Fire HDX line uses a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.2GHz with 2GB of RAM and Adreno 330 graphics, which Amazon claims to be over three times the processing power of the previous generation. On the front is a HD camera, with the Fire HDX 8.9 adding a rear-facing 8-megapixel counterpart with electronic image stabilization, a wide-aperture 5P f2.2 lens, and an LED flash, and while it has approximately 11 hours of battery life in mixed use, the Fire HDX automatically powers down the processor and unneeded extras when used for reading, shifting stored text to a dedicated low-power memory unit and boosting battery life when reading to up to 17 hours.
The HDX range starts from $230 for the 16GB 7-inch model with special offers and Wi-Fi, shipping on October 18th, with further options for 32GB or 64GB of storage, removal of special offers, and the addition of 4G LTE over AT&T or Verizon raising the price. The HDX 8.9, with the same set of options, starts from $379, and will be shipping on November 7th.
To go with the new angular rear design and the Fire HDX 8.9's 34-percent weight loss, new "Origami-style" covers are also being introduced. The magnetically-attached covers can be used as a stand for portrait and landscape positions, while the version for the Fire HDX 8.9 adds a custom slide that uncovers the rear camera and launches the camera app on the tablet itself.
The updated Kindle Fire HD keeps the same 7-inch form as the previous model, and is supplied with an upgraded 1280x800 display, a faster dual-core 1.5GHz processor, dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus, a slimmer design mimicking the HDX range, and dual-band Wi-Fi. Shipping on October 2nd, the new Kindle Fire HD 7 will cost $139 with 8GB of storage and special offers, also with options to remove the offers and increase the storage to 16GB, though it will only offer connectivity over Wi-Fi.
Amazon is also using the new tablet launches as a chance to upgrade its operating system. Fire OS 3.0, named "Mojito," adds an optimizing download manager, a redesigned graphics pipeline, a reading mode, and improved integration with X-Ray and Second Screen. Enhanced email, documents, and enterprise support with hardware and software data encryption is also included, along with social integration with Goodreads.
One new notable addition to the Kindle Fire line is the Mayday button for quick technical support. Appearing on the Kindle Fire HDX tablets, users will see video from a technical support adviser within 15 seconds of pressing it, 24 hours a day, with the user able to be walked through whatever feature they need help with by the adviser drawing directions on screen. The Mayday button will be free to use.