Amazon this week announced new versions of most of its Kindle e-book reader devices and tablets. As always, the Kindle devices undercut the pricing of rivals and offer some unique features. But this is the first time since the original Kindle that I haven't been fired up by a new Kindle release, and I find myself in the unprecedented position of not wanting any of these devices.
I'm not sure it even makes sense to spell out my growing disdain of Amazon, but with regards to these devices specifically, I'll just note that I find the experience on Google's Nexus tablets and Apple's iPad to be superior and, when more expensive, worth the additional cost. The one Amazon device I do continue to use regularly, the Kindle Paperwhite, wasn't updated this year, and the slightly-higher resolution alternative, the Kindle Voyage, is too expensive for me to consider upgrading.
But don't let my negativity get in the way here. What I'm describing above is my own personal preferences. And if I'm being fair to Amazon, at least some of these new or upgraded devices look pretty decent. (In addition to the Kindle Paperwhite, the 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX was also not updated.)
Here's a very quick look at what's new.
Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (upgraded)
Amazon's full-sized Kindle Fire HDX tablet is thinner and lighter than before and starts at just $379, about $120 cheaper than the equivalent iPad. (Indeed, the highest-end Wi-Fi-based HDX, with 64 GB of storage, costs the same as the cheapest iPad.) It features a powerful quad-core 2.5 GHz processor, fast Wi-Fi (and, optionally, LTE) wireless, and Dolby Atmos sound, and can be outfitted with an optional Fire Keyboard, making the HDX a Surface competitors suddenly as well. (Amazon bundles WPS Office software with the device.) OK, that keyboard thing does have me interested.
Preorder new Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 on Amazon – ships on October 21, 2014
Kindle Fire HD (upgraded)
The low-end Kindle Fire HD now comes in two versions, 6-inches ($99 and up) and 7-inches ($139 and up). Shipping in October, the upgraded Kindle Fire HD offers a quad-core processor, improved screens, front- and rear-facing cameras, and more colorful bodies, which can be had in black, white, cobalt, magenta, and citron.
Preorder new Kindle HD 6 on Amazon – ships on October 2, 2014
Preorder new Kindle HD 7 on Amazon – ships on October 2, 2014
Kindle Fire HD Kid's Edition (new)
Essentially a child-friendly version of the Kindle Fire HD 7, this new device features a fun, durable covering that comes in three colors and two screen sizes: 6-inches ($150 and up) and 7-inches ($180 and up). The big deal here is that the Kid's Edition comes with a two-year, "no-questions-asked, worry-free guarantee," so if your kid breaks it, Amazon will replace it for free.
Preorder new Kindle Fire HD Kid's Edition Tablet – ships on October 21, 2014
Kindle Voyage (new)
This new Kindle e-book reader is the new flagship device and offers a few improvements over the Paperwhite, though it still utilizes the same 6-inch screen size: It features an adaptive light sensor for auto-dimming the screen, a higher resolution screen (300ppi vs. 212ppi), and an improved backlight. But at $200, the Voyage is expensive, and even more so with the Paperwhite dropping to $119. At about $150, I might have jumped.
Preorder new Kindle Voyage (Wi-Fi) from Amazon – ships October 21, 2014
Amazon's most basic Kindle e-book reader costs just $79 and offers a 20 percent faster processor and double the storage (4 GB) when compared to the previous version. But the bigger deal here, perhaps, is that it also now includes a touch screen.
Preorder new Kindle from Amazon – ships October 2, 2014
Fire OS 4
The Kindle Fire devices noted above utilize a new version of Amazon's Android-based mobile OS called Fire OS 4 ("Sangria"). Based on Android 4.4 "Kit Kat," Fire OS 4 continues the platform's "content-forward user interface," which I think is part of the problem here, and will be made available to previous generation Fire and Fire HDX tablets too. Amazon will ship Fire OS 4 to the Fire Phone in early 2015.