Fasten your seat belts, this fall the news about tech will be coming fast and furious. Devices such as new Kindles, iPhone, iPods, Microsoft Surface, and rumored iMacs and iPads are or may be on the horizon. Stay tuned to The Wonder of Tech to keep up with all of the exciting news!
Last week Amazon made a major announcement about its Kindle line up. The new devices will be launched before the holiday season, plus major upgrades to its software will make existing Kindles more powerful. Whether you’re a Kindle fan or considering getting your first Kindle, Amazon’s announcements are very good news.
New Kindle models were introduced last week, and prices of existing models of Kindles were reduced. The lowest priced Kindle reader is now $69 and the lowest priced Kindle Fire is now $159.
The 2012 Kindle Fire comes in four models:
- Kindle Fire
- Kindle Fire HD 7″
- Kindle Fire HD 8.9″
- Kindle Fire HD + 4G 8.9″
Amazon is taking aim at the iPad with these new models, even showing direct comparisons on their website. The original Fire was a low-cost alternative to the iPad for those who wanted a tablet but didn’t want to make a significant investment. New features of the Fire HD make Amazon’s tablet more of a competitor with the iPad. The Fire HD is priced significantly lower than the iPad, enticing shoppers to give the Fire HD serious consideration.
New Kindle Fire
The New Kindle Fire has eight hours of battery life and is 40% faster than the original Kindle Fire. The new Fire will come with Special Offers, the screen saver that displays deals sent from Amazon, but you can pay $15 to turn off that feature.
Amazon is making the new Fire more kid-friendly by offering Kindle FreeTime, an option to limit the use of the tablet. Kindle FreeTime lets a parent restrict use of the Fire to a limited time for apps, games and videos, but enable use of the Fire for an unlimited time for reading books.
The new Fire begins shipping on September 14 and will be available for $159.
Kindle Fire HD 7″
The Kindle Fire HD 7″ has the same screen size as Fire but got improved features such as:
- HD screen resolution
- Dolby Digital Plus sound
- Front-facing camera for Skype video calls
- 16 or 32 GB of storage
- 11 hours battery life
- Two Wi-Fi antennas for faster connections
The Kindle Fire HD also has a 10 point touch screen, putting all your fingers to work for enhanced navigation.
Dolby Digital Plus creates virtual surround sound and adjusts the sound based on whether you’re listening to music or movies and whether you’re listening with speakers or headphones.
The Kindle Fire HD 7″ will begin shipping on September 14 and will be priced at:
- $199 for 16 GB
- $249 for 32 GB
Kindle Fire HD 8.9″
The Kindle Fire HD also comes with a 8.9″ screen, which is slightly smaller than the iPad’s 9.7″ screen. The Fire HD 8.9″ has the same features as the 7″ model, but adds:
- Faster processor
- 16, 32 and 64 GB storage
- 4G connection
Information about the battery life of the 8.9″ tablet hasn’t yet been provided by Amazon.
The 4G option gives the tablet the ability to connect to the Internet when Wi-Fi isn’t available. Amazon is offering the 4G connection for $49.99/year with 250 MB/month. Larger data options will be available but pricing has not been announced. The 4G fee also gives you 20 GB of Amazon Cloud storage and a $10 credit towards the Amazon Appstore.
The Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ begins shipping November 20 in the US and will be priced at:
- $299 for 16 GB
- $369 for 32 GB
Wi-Fi + 4G:
- $499 for 32 GB
- $599 for 64 GB
Amazon is challenging the iPad directly on price. A Amazon price comparison chart shows significant savings on the initial price of the Fire HD and the cost of data:
If you’re in the market for a dedicated ereader, Amazon has a new model for you to consider, the Paperwhite. The Paperwhite is designed to be easier on the eye with 62% more pixels and 25% better contrast than previous Kindles. The Paperwhite offers six different fonts in eight different sizes.
While those features are improvements over the previous Kindles, the killer feature for the Paperwhite may be the ability to illuminate the screen. Amazon introduces new technology to light the screen from above so there isn’t any backlighting to cause eye strain.
The Paperwhite only has half the storage space of the Kindle Keyboard, but the Paperwhite holds 1100 books and has unlimited Amazon Cloud storage for Amazon content. If you are staunchly determined to have over 1100 books stored on your Kindle, the Kindle Keyboard might be a better choice for you.
The Paperwhite wakes up automatically if you get a special Kindle cover. Similar to the Smart Cover of the iPad, the Kindle Paperwhite cover closes magnetically and comes in a variety of colors.
The Kindle Paperwhite is priced:
- $119 Wi-Fi Only with Special Offers
- $139 Wi-Fi Only without Special Offers
- $179 Wi-Fi + 3G with Special Offers
- $199 Wi-Fi +3G without Special Offers
Special Offers means your screen saver shows Amazon deals. If you decide you don’t like this feature, you can pay to turn it off after you’ve bought the device.
The 3G version gives you free 3G coverage in 100 countries around the world without any connection charges.
Kindle Paperwhite is scheduled to begin shipping the week of October 15.
Amazon, which owns Audible, is integrating Audible audiobooks with Kindle books so you can switch back and forth between formats and devices.
Whispersync for Voice
Kindle books have Whispersync so you can put a book down on one device, such as your Kindle, and then open it on another device right, such as your smartphone, where you left off reading. Amazon is bringing that technology to Audible audiobooks so you can listen to an audiobook on one device and then pick up where you left off on another device.
You can also sync your Audible books with your Kindle books. This feature is available for over 14,000 books listed here. In some cases, the audiobook is less expensive by buying it through Whispersync for Voice than buying it from Audible, plus you get a Kindle book as a bonus.
“The ability to seamlessly switch back and forth between reading text on any Kindle and listening to the same title in audio on your smartphone—and always pick up where you left off—means that the story can continue during those times of the day when you cannot look at a screen. We think that Whispersync for Voice can help us all enjoy more books, which is good news indeed,” said Donald Katz, Founder and CEO of Audible.
Here’s a video showing how Whispersync for Voice works:
Amazon is also integrating Audible audiobooks with new Kindle Fires in a feature called Immersion Reading. This feature, now available for over 15,000 books, will synchronize the reading of an Audible audiobook with a Kindle book so that the passage being read by the Audible narrator is highlighted on the Kindle.
When you buy a Kindle book with Immersion Reading available, you can add the Audible audiobook narration to the book for an extra charge, discounted from the full price of the audiobook.
Here is a video showing how Immersion Reading works:
Amazon is making Immersion Reading free for a limited time for certain titles, including “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” narrated by Elijah Wood, and “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” narrated by Anne Hathaway.
Immersion Reading is available on the new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD models.
X-Ray for Movies
If you often wonder when you’re watching a movie whether you’ve seen an actor in another film, check out X-ray for Movies. This feature gives you instant access to IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) on the screen when you’re watching a movie on your new Kindle Fire. Just tap the screen and a menu will appear letting you search on IMDB without leaving the movie.
Questions remain about the new Kindle models, such as whether the Fire tablets will have navigation capabilities and whether the Paperweight Wi-Fi + 3G will have a 3G Experiment Browser . Will the Kindle Fire be able to make a dent in the tablet market domination by the iPad? Will Apple introduce an iPad mini to compete with the Kindle Fire HD 7″? We will know more after these devices become available, but in the meantime there are plenty of new features to anticipate eagerly.
What do you think of the new Kindles? Are you interested in any of these devices? Are you excited by the software features Amazon is introducing? Let us know in the Comments section below!