Amazon expands gadget lineup, offers Fire tablet for kids
The online retail giant adds new Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets to its family of products. But for all the technical improvements and new features built into these devices, one principle remains prominent throughout — price matters.
Seattle Times business reporter
New devices, new prices
Amazon unveiled its latest lineup of tablet and e-readers. Here is the range of devices and the amount they’ll set you back.
With special offers (ads):
Kindle Paperwhite: $119
Kindle Paperwhite 3G: $189
Kindle Voyage: $199
Kindle Voyage 3G: $269
Fire HD 6: $99
Fire HD 7: $139
Fire HDX 8.9: $379
Fire HDX 8.9 4G: $479
Without special offers
Kindle Paperwhite: $139
Kindle Paperwhite 3G: $209
Kindle Voyage: $219
Kindle Voyage 3G: $289
Fire HD 6: $114
Fire HD 7: $154
Fire HDX 8.9: $394
Fire HDX 8.9 4G: $494
NEW YORK — The newest version of Amazon’s Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers, which launch next month, will come with the requisite incremental innovations that make the coming generation of the devices lighter and faster.
But perhaps the biggest change consumers will see as preorders begin is the price. Amazon is introducing an ad-supported, 6-inch, high-definition Fire tablet for $99, an inch smaller and $80 cheaper than the lowest cost Samsung Galaxy Tab 4.
“It’s a core tenet of Amazon: Price matters,” said Dave Limp, the Amazon.com senior vice president who oversees the company’s hardware business. “Our goal there is to pack as much processing power into as low a price as we can.”
The new batch of devices isn’t just focused on low prices. Amazon is also adding a higher priced Kindle e-reader, the Kindle Voyage, with a 300-pixels-per-inch screen that is the sharpest yet. The highest-price version of the Voyage, which comes with wireless connectivity, will sell for $269 without ads
“A lot of our customers are focused on us inventing,” Limp said. “To invent often requires a higher price point because you are going to try to push the edge of technology.”
Amazon revamped its lineup, introducing six devices — three new Fire tablets and three new Kindle e-readers — which it showed off Wednesday at a media briefing in New York. All the new devices can be preordered now, with delivery in October.
The company also updated the operating system that runs its Fire tablets, which includes the ASAP feature it has on its Fire TV devices. That feature anticipates videos customers might want to watch and preloads them so they’ll stream faster.
And Amazon debuted the Fire HD Kids Edition, a lower cost Fire tablet that comes with a two-year warranty to replace the device if it’s broken, no questions asked.
“If your child breaks your tablet, you get a new one. It’s that simple,” said Nate Glissmeyer, a director at Amazon Devices.
The new offerings include a faster Fire HDX 8.9, the priciest and most powerful tablet Amazon makes. The latest version, which starts with an ad-supported model at $379, includes 339-pixels-per-inch screen plus something Amazon calls a “Dynamic Light Control” chip. It automatically adjusts the color of the display to make the digital pages of a book more closely resemble the way paper appears in different light.
Amazon has also integrated Dolby’s Atmos surround-sound technology, the first time the technology has been included in a tablet.
The company also debuted the Fire Keyboard, a $59.99 Bluetooth keyboard that comes with a trackpad. The keyboard, at $54.99, connects magnetically to Amazon’s updated Origami cover for storage.
At the lower-priced end of the Fire devices, Amazon has expanded its offerings. A 6-inch version starts at $99, while a 7-inch version starts at $139. Each comes in five color options.
Amazon says its lower-cost devices can beat the specifications of other low-cost tablets. It ran a demo of a video-game benchmarking program on the HD 7 that showed the frame rates surpassing those on the more expensive Samsung Galaxy Tab 4.
“Customers always want low-price points,” said Peter Larsen, vice president of Amazon Devices. “But if you get down to those low-price points, you trade things out.”
The HD Kids Edition, which includes the two-year warranty, also comes with one year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, a subscription plan that includes youth-oriented content, including the Harry Potter books and some “Sesame Street” videos. Kids can re-watch programs and reread books over and over with the service.
Kids Edition on the HD 6 will cost $149 and on the HD 7 will cost $189.
The new Kindle Voyage, at 7.6 millimeters thick, is the thinnest e-reader yet. Amazon has etched the cover glass on the device so that it diffuses light, making it easier to read in bright daylight.
The device also includes a new feature called PagePress, a force sensor on the right and left bezel that readers can push to turn pages.
Readers can still tap the screen to turn pages as well.
The midrange Paperwhite edition, which Amazon sells for $119, comes with more storage that the current version as well as sharper screen resolution. And the base model Kindle, which sells for $79, now has a touch-screen.