Amazon is introducing a new line of tablets with higher-resolution displays. The Kindle Fire HD will come in two models, with 7 and 8.9 inch displays.
The 8.9 inch model has a 1920 x 1200 pixel IPS display with 254 pixels per inch. Amazon says it also reflects 25 percent less glare thanks to improved screen technology.
The 7 inch tablet has a 1280 x 800 pixel screen. Amazon says this model will get 11 hours of battery life, although a battery life claim for the larger model is curiously absent.
The Kindle Fire HD tablets feature TI OMAP 4470 dual core processors, offering percent better performance than the chip in the original Kindle Fire — and Amazon claims it also faster than the NVIDA Tegra 3 quad-core chip (at least in terms of memory bandwidth… which is one way to measure things, I suppose).
The new tablets have dual stereo speakers, Dolby Digital Plus audio, two antennas and other upgrades to improve WiFi performance. There’s also a front-facing HD camera.
The tablets also feature HDMI output, WiFi, and Bluetooth — which is a big step up from the original Kindle fire, which had WiFi but no Bluetooth or HDMI.
Amazon is also introducing new software features including WhisperSync for voice, which lets you listen to audiobooks and pick up reading where you left off with a text book. And there’s a new X-Ray for movies feature which lets you view IMDB data for a movie as you’re watching. Want to know who an actor is? You can look it up while you’re watching a video.
WhisperSync for Games lets you save your game progress and synchronize it across devices — so you can start playing a game and continue from the same level on another device. That’s something that’s been sorely missing from the Android smartphone and tablet experience to date.
The Kindle Fire tablets are also getting a new email client with support for Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and Exchange. It can also sync your calendar and contact data.
With starting prices of $199, the new Kindle Fire HD tablets may have out-done the Google Nexus 7 in the spec department. The 7 inch model has Bluetooth and HDMI, which the Nexus 7 lacks. It also has 16GB of storage, which is twice what you get with Google’s tablet.
Of course, the Google Nexus 7 also includes a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 chip, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean software and support for the Google Play Store with access to hundreds of thousands of apps (the Amazon Appstore has just 50,000). But Amazon’s making a pretty compelling case for its tablet with Whispersync for games, videos, and more, and Amazon already has the better book, movie, and music stores.
I also suspect we’ll see people root the Kindle Fire HD tablets and install custom firmware in short order. It didn’t take long to do that with the original Kindle Fire.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has pretty much admitted that the company is selling the tablets at a loss in order to make up the money when people use the devices by purchasing content from Amazon’s app stores and digital media stores.