We've known for some time that Amazon was going to announce a new family of Kindle devices, and company CEO Jeff Bezos didn't disappoint when he took to the stage today to introduce this year's models. On the less exciting side of the spectrum, this year's vanilla Kindle eReader is slimmer, lighter, and cheaper than last year's entry-level model, selling for $69 instead of $79. As you move up the chain of devices, however, things get exponentially more interesting.
The first thing Bezos unveiled is the new Kindle Paperwhite , a front-lit eBook reader that shares some DNA with the company's Kindle Fire tablet. It's 9.1mm thin, weighs 7.5 ounces (thinner than a magazine, lighter than a paperback), and sports a magnificent display with 62 percent more pixels (212 ppi) than before. It has 25 percent more contrast for whiter whites and blacker blacks, and according to Bezos, it's equally suitable for viewing in a dark bedroom as it is in direct sunlight, solving one of the fundamental problems that plagues many tablets and eReaders. It's the first-ever paperwhite display, and what's more, Amazon is claiming you can leave the light on and still enjoy eight weeks -- two months -- of battery life. That's pretty amazing.
You can order the new Kindle eBook readers today (ships October 1) for $69 for the vanilla version, and $119 (Wi-Fi) and $179 (Wi-Fi + 3G) for the Kindle Paperwhite models.
As expected, Amazon also unveiled a brand new Kindle Fire tablet, undercutting the competition in the process. The new Kindle Fire, which is also available to order today and ships September 14, runs $159 and features several upgrades, including a faster processor, twice the amount of RAM, 40 percent better performance, a front-facing HD camera, and longer battery life. It bears repeating that this thing is $159, or $40 cheaper than Google's Nexus 7.
So that's Amazon's new entry-level tablet, but it's not the only new slate. It was rumored Amazon might unveil a larger size Kindle Fire, and the company didn't disappoint when Bezos pulled out 7-inch and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD models. The Kindle Fire HD takes on the iPad 3 and Nexus 7 with MIMO, dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) technology, dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus, a TI OMAP 4470 processor, 1920x1200 screen resolution, 16GB (or more) of internal storage, and other upgrades.
The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD is priced at $199 and ships September 14, while the 8.9-inch model cost $299 and ships November 20. Both are available to pre-order starting today.
Finally, Amazon announced a Kindle Fire HD to compete in the $499 space that's occupied by the iPad and several other tablets. Amazon's $499 model ups the ante with 32GB of internal storage and 4G LTE, along with an optional $50/year data plan that allows 250MB per month, 20GB of cloud storage, and $10 Amazon Appstore credit. Like all the rest, you can pre-order the Kindle Fire HD 4G LTE today, and it will ship November 20.