Amazon Unveils New Tablets, Readers

Drops opening price and Kindle name from tablets
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Seattle — Amazon dropped the opening price and Kindle name from its Fire tablets, launched its most advanced e-reader ever, and unveiled kid-friendly tablets with a two-year replacement guarantee if they break.

The company also unveiled the latest version of its tablet OS, called OS 4 Sangria.

The new Kindle e-readers include the Kindle Voyage, positioned as Amazon’s thinnest Kindle ever with higher resolution and contrast than before. It's priced at $199 with 3G cellular.  Also new is a $79 Kindle that now comes with a touch interface, a 20 percent faster processor and twice the storage than before.

The new tablets, called Fire tablets instead of Kindle Fire, include the Fire HD, available with 6- and 7-inch screens at $100 and $140. The new Fire HDX 8.9 adds Dolby Atmos decoding, enabling soundtracks to deliver Atmos surround through any pair of headphones. The Wi-Fi version is $379, and the 4G LTE version is $479.

The new Fire HD Kids Edition tablets, based on the new Fire HD tablets, will retail for $149 for the 6-inch version and $189 for the 7-inch version.

All tablets feature faster processors than current-generation models.

The current Fire HDX 7 has been repriced to $199 and will get the Fire OS 4 update later this year.

All new devices will be available in October. All also feature the Dolby Digital Plus suite of audio enhancement technologies.

The new Fire OS, based on Android KitKat, updates the visual design of the UI and adds Profiles so family members see their own individual email, Facebook and Twitter accounts and their own settings. Sangria also adds Advanced Streaming and Prediction to predict the movies and TV episodes that a user will want to watch and prepares them for instant playback without delay before users hit play. The feature gets better at predicting with use.

Smart Suspend detects when the tablet is not in use and turns wireless off to deliver up to 25 percent more standby battery life.

Sangria also adds new Cloud services such as Family Library so users can share apps, games, audiobooks, books and Prime Instant Video content with other members of the household. It brings Firefly service from Amazon’s phone to the HDX 8.9, and it provides free unlimited storage in Cloud Drive for photos taken by Amazon’s tablets.

Here are additional product details:

Fire HD: The new Fire HD 6 and 7 tablets feature 1.5GHz quad-core processor, offer front and rear cameras for the first time, and feature brighter displays than before with more than 1 million pixels (252 ppi for the 6-inch tablet and 216 ppi for the 7-incher.) The rear camera captures 1080p video. The new models add Gorilla Glass display, come in five color options, and feature up to eight hours of battery life. All access more than 33 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, magazines, and Android apps and games. Free unlimited Cloud storage is available for all Amazon content.

Fire HDX: The new Fire HDX tablet features a 2.5GHz quad-core processor with a 70 percent faster graphics engine than before, 30 percent more pixels than the iPad's Retina display at more than 4 million pixels at 339 ppi, 100 percent sRGB color accuracy, and dynamic light control, which makes book pages look more like a real piece of paper in different lighting conditions, the company said.

The device is 20 percent lighter than the iPad Air at 13.2 ounces and steps up Wi-Fi performance to 802.11ac, which delivers four times the peak bandwidth of the previous model at 600Mbps. It also offers front-facing HD camera and an -megapixel rear-facing camera with 1080p video capture, LED flash, electronic image stabilization and a wide-aperture f/2.2 lens.

The camera application lets users capture panoramas, lenticulars and HDR with ability to edit photos from the tablet. Battery life is up to 12 hours.

Fire HDX comes preloaded with WPS Office to create, edit and view Office documents, which are fully compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. WPS Office also integrates with Cloud Drive so Office documents are automatically backed up and available through the Cloud Drive app on other mobile devices.

With the Amazon HDMI and VGA adapters, users can connect Fire HDX’s MicroUSB port to a TV, a computer monitor or projector. With the Amazon USB adapter, users can connect USB flash drives, SD card readers, or a wired keyboard or mouse.

Kids Edition: The Kids Edition tablets, which are ruggedized versions of the HD tablets, include a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited to give kids unlimited access to 5,000 kids-oriented books, movies, TV shows, educational apps and games at no additional cost. The service normally costs $120 and features parental controls.

Kindle readers: The top-end Kindle Voyage features an all-new design with a magnesium back and flush glass front with strengthened glass to resist scratches. It’s 7.6mm thin and weighs less than 6.4 ounces. A brand-new Paperwhite display delivers the highest resolution, highest contrast and highest brightness of any Kindle to date with 300 ppi, the company said. It’s 39 percent brighter than before.

The cover glass is micro-etched to diffuse light to ensure the ability to read in bright light without glare. The etching pattern also matches the feel of paper.

A new adaptive front light automatically adjusts the brightness of the display based on ambient light. The adaptive light can be fine-tuned to personal preference. Also, the adaptive front light slowly lowers the display's brightness over time when turned on in the dark because the light needed to start reading in the dark will otherwise seem too bright 30 minutes later, the company said.

Kindle Voyage also adds PagePress, which uses a custom-designed force sensor that sits directly under the bezel. Users rest a thumb on the bezel and turn the page by lightly pressing. When a page is turned, Kindle Voyage delivers tactile feedback from a haptic actuator.

The $79 Kindle has a 20 percent faster processor, twice the storage and a touch interface for the first time.

The two new readers join the Kindle Paperwhite at $119.

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