As expected, Amazon announced its updated 2012-2013 Kindle family this afternoon. In addition to two new eInk readers, three Android-based Kindle Fire tablets were also introduced, two with HD displays.
The Kindle Fire HD models are available with either a 7-inch or 8.9-inch touchscreen, the smaller costing $199 with 16GB of internal storage, the larger priced $100 more. Both screens are HD, with the larger 8.9-inch model featuring an impressive 1920×1200 display with 254PPI (a slightly less-dense pixel count than the iPad 3). New display construction methods are said to reduce glare and increase effective viewing angles.
The larger Fire HD includes the new TI OMAP4 4470 ARM SoC processor, which Amazon says outperforms even the NVIDIA Tegra 3, currently considered to be the fastest tablet SoC.
Amazon also has a 4G version of the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, which gives you 250MB of use per month for an annual fee of $50. Impressive. This model comes with double the storage, 32GB, and is $499 – $230 cheaper than a comparable iPad 3 and far more affordable once you factor in the monthly cost of 4G access on Apple’s tablet.
The standard Kindle Fire also received a reported 40% performance bump, improved battery life, and a price cut – now $159 rather than $199.
Pre-orders start today with the new Kindle Fire and 7-inch Kindle Fire HD shipping in mid-September. The 8.9-inch models will ship in November.
Just a day after a Samsung executive opined that his company’s performance in the tablet market has been less than stellar, availability of a new Samsung tablet has been announced by Verizon Wireless. On Thursday, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 will go on sale for a whopping $499 with a two-year service agreement.
The Galaxy Tab 7.7, as the name suggests, will feature a 7.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus display with a resolution of 1280×800 and 196 PPI. The tablet is powered by a zippy Exynos dual-core Cortex A9 SoC CPU clocked at 1.4GHz. Other features include LTE support, 16GB of onboard flash storage, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, Bluetooth 3.0, 802.11n Wi-Fi, a 3MP primary camera, a 2MP front-facing camera, aGPS, and a microSDHC flash memory card slot.
The tablet is both thin and light, weighing just under 12-ounces and measuring about 0.3-inches thick.
Unfortunately, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 will ship with Android 3.2, not Android 4.0, though an upgrade to the latest version of Google’s mobile OS will come. But this presents two questions – when and will:
When will the Android 4 upgrade be made available for the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and will Verizon make the update available for its particular model? We’ll find out later this year.
Aside from Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Android tablets have enjoyed very limited success compared to Apple’s iPad, a situation Google cannot be very happy with. Even top-shelf devices like the Motorola Xyboard are destined for disappointing sales because of their high price. As a result, the company may be poised to release a tablet of its own, bypassing partner tinkering and price bloat, and focusing on the best possible Android experience on a tablet device at the best possible price.
Like the Nexus line of smartphones, a Nexus tablet would be free of UI overlays and manufacturer add-ons, offering a pure Android user experience. Google chairman Eric Schmidt has confirmed that a “tablet of the highest quality” is in the works, so the questions now are 1) will it be a Google-branded tablet, 2) when will it be released, 3) how much will it cost, and 4) what sort of tablet will it be?
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Last year’s Motorola XOOM was supposed to be the Android answer to the iPad; as it turned out, it was anything but. Expensive and incomplete with an overall not-quite-finished feel, the XOOM was a major disappointment, not only to me but to the tablet buying public at large. XOOM was a bomb, particularly when viewed through its pre-release buzz.
I’d like to say that the new Xyboard (pronounced zye-board), Motorola’s U.S. XOOM successor, will fare far better, but I doubt it. And that’s a shame because it’s superior in almost every way to its predecessor, and – in fact – to most other Android tablets. But the Xyboard is limited by its single-carrier availability (Verizon Wireless), that carrier’s ridiculous data policies, and its high up-front price.
Still, if you’re looking for a fast Android Honeycomb device with LTE onboard, and have plenty of cash, it’s an excellent choice.
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After a year of speculation, today Amazon took the wraps off its first tablet device, the Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire is a skinned Android tablet with a dual-core processor, a 7-inch IPS touchscreen, Wi-Fi, and software geared for Amazon-powered content consumption.
Of course, the Kindle Fire will have an eBook reader app, much like tablet versions of the software already available, but there will also be support for watching streaming video, and purchasing and listening to music. And, of course, there’s a web browser.
Unlike many Android tablets on the market, the Kindle Fire isn’t trying to be all things to all users; it’s a content consumption device first and foremost.
You can add additional software to the Kindle Fire via the Amazon Appstore.
The Kindle Fire will sell for $199 and will include a one month trial of Amazon Prime(Review), the $79 yearly membership that allows $3.99 per item overnight shipping of Amazon-stocked products as well as streaming movies and TV shows from the Amazon Instant Video library.
A new touch-enabled version of the eInk Kindle, called the Kindle Touch, was also announced.