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New Tablets Arrive For Q4 Expected To Rise 18%

10/06/2013 08:00:00 PM Eastern

NEW YORK — New tablets from the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and Samsung will compete alongside new models expected from Apple and Nokia in the fourth quarter, when Strategy Analytics forecasts U.S. tablet shipments will grow 18 percent to more than 23 million units compared with the year-ago quarter.

The wholesale value of the fourth-quarter shipments will exceed $7 billion, Strategy Analytics said.

Nokia’s expected entry with a Windows-based tablet will help stoke the fourth-quarter competition, as will an expanded selection with lower opening price points from Microsoft.

Here’s what Microsoft, Amazon and Samsung have up their sleeves:

Amazon’s third-generation Kindle Fire, called the Kindle Fire HDX, will be available in two screen sizes — 7 and 8.9 inches — like before, and like before, they will be available in Wi-Fi and LTE versions.

For the first time, the tablets will be available with Verizon service, not just AT&T service.

The 7-inch model with special offers and sponsored screensavers is priced as $229, $269 and $309 for the Wi-Fi versions with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB of storage, respectively. The LTE versions sell for $329, $369 and $409. The 8.9-inch model is priced at $379, $429 and $479 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions. The LTE versions of the 8.9-inch table retails for $479, $529 and $579.

Without special offers, all tablets cost $15 more.

The 7-inch Wi-Fi models ship Oct. 18, and the 7-inch models with 4G are available Nov. 14. The 8.9-inch Wi-Fi models are available Nov. 7, and the LTE versions are available Dec. 10.

All feature 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processors, 2GB of RAM, Adreno 330 graphics engine and Amazon’s Fire OS 3.0, which adds hundreds of new and upgraded features, and exclusive services such as XRay for Music, which lets users identify songs they hear on TV shows and purchase them.

The 7-inch model features 1,920 by 1,200 display with 323 ppi, while the larger model ups it to 2,560 by 1,600 with 339 ppi. New features also include a Mayday button to connect consumers to free live tech support. New enterprise-friendly features include VPN support, secure Wi-Fi and wireless printing.

Microsoft plans Oct. 22 U.S. availability of upgraded Surface tablets that feature the new Windows RT 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro operating systems, faster CPUs, longer battery lives and a two-position kickstand for more comfortable placement on a lap.

The company will also expand its selection of Surface Pro models to four from two with two models offering the same amount of RAM (4GB) and embedded memory (64GB and 128GB) as the original two Surface Pro models. The other two new models will offer 8GB RAM with embedded memory of 256GB and 512GB.

All new versions feature 10.6-inch widescreen touchscreens like their predecessors.

The RT version, called the Surface 2, will retail for an expected $449 for the 32GB version and $549 for the 64GB version, or $50 less than their predecessors’ launch price. The Surface Pro 2 with Windows Pro 8.1 OS starts at $899 and $999 for the 4GB RAM versions with 64GB and 128GB of embedded memory. Those prices match the launch prices of their predecessors. Two additional Surface Pro models with 8GB RAM will be available in 256GB and 512GB versions at $1,299 and $1,799, respectively. Surface Pro prices include, like before, a Surface pen to draw on files and enter data.

The Surface 2 sports multiple enhancements over its predecessor with an Nvidia Tegra 4 1.7GHz quad-core ARM processor, said to be three to four times faster than before; FullHD widescreen display at 1,920 by 1080p vs. 1,366 by 768; 5-megapixel and 3.5-megapixel 1080p cameras vs. 720p cameras; improved low-light camera performance; full-size USB 3.0 vs. full-size USB 2.0; and Outlook RT, joining Office Home & Student 2013 RT.

Like before, the Surface 2 features 2GB RAM and MicroSDXC card reader.

The more powerful Surface Pro 2 uses the fourth-generation five-core Intel Core i5 processor vs. third-generation processor and operates at 1.6GHz with an Intel Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz.

Carryover features include 1,920 by 1,080 10-point multi-touch display, front- and rearfacing cameras capturing 720p video, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, metal chassis, full-size USB 3.0, MicroSDXC slot, Mini Display Port and stereo speakers.

All new versions also come with accessories, including the first docking station for Microsoft tablets and the first optional keyboard cover with built-in battery to extend battery life on the Surface Pro 2.

Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Note 10.1 – 2014 Edition will be available beginning Oct. 10. The Wi-Fi tablet will come in black and white and retail for $549 and $599 for the 16GB and 32GB versions, respectively. Both feature 64GB MicroSD card slot.

Note 10.1 is thinner at 7.9mm and lighter at 1.3 pounds than its predecessor and comes with an updated S Pen said to provide a more responsive.

It features its 2,560 by 1,600 super AMOLED display, Android 4.3, 2.3GHz quad-core processor, 3GB RAM, 8-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 24- bit/192 kHz audio playback, IR blaster and nearfield communications (NFC) technology.