Earlier today Amazon revealed four new Kindle devices: a new Touch e-reader called the Kindle Paperwhite; the latest update to the Fire (not the Fire 2, just Kindle Fire); the Kindle Fire HD 7", and Kindle Fire HD 8.9". You can read the "liveblog" covering the event here.

Amazon's full-on assault against tablets and e-readers doesn't come as much of a surprise, but their announcements regarding actual hardware are interesting. Sure, everything's thinner, lighter, with a better battery and plenty of new software features. But all of the tablet devices are also running on TI's OMAP chips. In order, the Fire (2012) uses the 4430, Fire HD 7" has the 4460, and the 8.9" has the 4470. 

Benchmarking was wholly restricted, so I was really limited with what I could do per device. Both of my Sunspider tests, which would have been skewed regardless due to really shoddy Wi-Fi plus Amazon's Silk browser (which runs a lot of the processing on the backend to produce faster results), were foiled by Amazon representatives. I spoke with Peter Larsen, VP of Kindle at Amazon, and he said they weren't allowing any benchmarks as of yet. So all preview notes are my own qualitative thoughts.

Amazon Tablet Specification Comparison
  Kindle Fire Kindle Fire (2012) Kindle Fire HD 7" Kindle Fire HD 8.9"
Dimensions 190 x 120 x 11.4mm 189 x 120 x 11.5mm 193 x 137 x 10.3mm 240 X 164 X 8.8mm
Display 7-inch 1024 x 600 IPS 7-inch 1024 x 600 IPS 7-inch 1280 x 800 IPS 8.9-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS
Weight 413g 400g 395g 567g
Processor 1GHZ TI OMAP 4430 (2 x Cortex A9) 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4430 (2 x Cortex A9) 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4460 (2 x Cortex A9) 1.5GHz TI OMAP 4470 (2 x Cortex A9)
Memory 512MB


Wireless Single-band Wi-Fi Single-band Wi-Fi Dual-band, dual antenna (2.4GHz, 5GHz, MIMO) Dual-band, dual antenna (2.4GHz, 5GHz, MIMO)
Storage 8GB (6.5GB usable) 8GB (5.5 usable) 16GB/32GB (12.6GB/26.9GB usable) 16GB/32GB Wi-Fi, 32GB/64GB LTE
Battery 16Whr ? ? ?
Pricing $199 (original price; no longer available) $159 $199/$249

$299/$369 - Wi-Fi
$499/$599 - LTE

A few tidbits regarding the latest Kindle Fire tablets (as well as the e-readers). They are all ad-based, utilizing the Special Offers program to help keep the prices down while displaying ads at lock screens and within certain apps. Unlike previous Kindle e-readers though, all upcoming Kindle devices will come with Special Offers built-in. You can't opt-out of the service, even if you plan on using the FreeTime kids application (though there are some barriers currently in place). This isn't necessarily a bad thing; it means interested buyers can get these tablets for low prices because of the ads, not in spite of them. And since they're not really intrusive, I'd be willing to sacrifice a lock screen for an ad.

All three of the Kindle Fire tablets include Special Offers, though the FreeTime application - essentially a kid's-zone where parents can set the duration and which apps, videos, and books kids can access- is unaffected by the Special Offers. I've reached out to Amazon regarding whether there is some sort of guideline for ads when FreeTime is enabled, but I was told definitively that apps taking advantage of Special Offers are fair game. Meaning if you have any app that works in FreeTime that also relays ads, your kids will see those ads, even if they aren't appropriate for kids. The only security there is children who have used up their alloted time will be locked out from viewing any ads...but only if the previously set time parents determine has up and passed.

Whispersync is also available across the entire Kindle family, allowing for books, voiced books, and games to have data saved across any device. Amazon hasn't announced any specific game system, like iOS' Game Center, though I wouldn't be surprised if some service for games sprouted up over the course of the next year.

Kindle Paperwhite: a direct competitor to the Nook Touch Glowlight
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  • Freename - Thursday, September 6, 2012 - link

    No option for those of us that want the front-lit screen but tactile buttons :/
  • Wolfpup - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Yeah, super lame. I've read a couple books on my Nook 2...and touch screens on eInk are even lamer than on LCD tablets.

    Super disapointed the DX hasn't been updated either. It's always needed buttons on the other sides, it needs the new SOC + higher resolution screen + buttons on both sides and I'd buy a new one.

    Of course I still want one with color eInk for graphic novels and the like...

    The way things are going, I may end up switching back to regular books, because I really don't like reading on my iPad, and I really don't like the 6" eInk readers, and I hate hate hate touch screens.
  • Flunk - Saturday, September 8, 2012 - link

    If you want tactile buttons buy one now, it's only a matter of time before they burn through the existing stock and they're gone forever.
  • joshv - Thursday, September 6, 2012 - link

    Last time around I pre-ordered. F-that, this time around I am waiting for the reviews. The original Fire is a dog. It sits unused, with a dead battery it acquired after about 3 hours of usage. I simply got tired of charging the damned thing, and it doesn't sound like there's much of an improvement on that front.

    I am actually very interested in the 3G paperwhite. The reason I bought a Fire was because I lost my original kindle (e-ink) reader, and was tired of those damned clip on lights in bed.
  • quasi_accurate - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Same thing happened to me. Pre-ordered it, got it, didn't like it. Then it sat for 2 weeks before I returned it back to Amazon. Now I have a Nexus 7, which I absolutely LOVE. Pretty much fixed every problem I had with the original Kindle Fire.
  • Samus - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    I still use a Nook Color, great tablet.
  • Impulses - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    This seems like a rushed announcement on Amazon's part to be honest, like they just had to get something out there before whatever Apple is planning next... Frankly I don't see why anyone would pick up either of the 7" models over the Nexus 7... The 8.9" model is intriguing tho, if only because Samsung's the only one that has paid that in-between form factor any attention (even tho they don't have a current gen Android tablet at 8.9").
  • Super56K - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    One big reason why: The Kindle branding resonates strongly with average consumers.
  • MScrip - Sunday, September 9, 2012 - link

    I think the iPad brand is resonating strongly in terms of tablet computers.

    But yeah... the Kindle brand has been around for a long time because of Amazon's e-ink readers.
  • nafhan - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    Don't discount the effect of a $40 price drop on something that only costs $200 to begin with, especially if it positions it as the cheapest tablet on the market (at least out of those worth considering). Also, if the "kid mode" thing works as well as advertised, the non-HD Kindle Fire looks like an ideal kids tablet.

    I'd still probably go with N7 for myself, though, and either way, always wait for reviews!

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