Preparing for a new holiday season of competition with the iPad and iPod touch, Amazon today announced new 7- and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD tablets, and a new $159 version of the Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire HD starts at 16GB and comes equipped with either a 1280×800/7” or 1920×1200/8.9” screen, promising 25 percent less glare than the prior Kindle Fire, plus improved viewing angles and stereo speakers. Kindle Fire HD will feature dual-band Wi-Fi with MIMO, as well as a front-facing camera, helping it to compete more effectively against the third-generation iPad. The 7” 16GB version will sell for $199 starting on September 14, with the 8.9” 16GB version at $299 on November 20. Each will also come in a 32GB model.
As a more direct competitor to the third-generation iPad, Amazon also announced a $499, 32GB version of the 8.9” Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE support as its signature feature. This model is paired with a “breakthrough” $50 per year LTE plan, offering 250MB of data per month for an entire year, for a price of $549 versus $959 for a 32GB iPad with LTE and one year of data service. AT&T is believed to be the LTE data provider, and additional details were not immediately available. Notably, Amazon has not disclosed battery life for the 8.9” Kindle Fire HDs, but claims 11 hours of run time for the 7” model.
As a successor to last year’s Kindle Fire, which Amazon claims holds 22% of the U.S. tablet market, the $159 Fire looks similar to its predecessor, but is being billed as 40 percent faster, with double the RAM and longer battery life. It also ships Sept. 14.