Amazon Unveils Kindle Fire HD, Upgraded Kindle Fire, Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader

PHOTO: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces new versions of the companys Kindle Fire tablet, Sept. 6, 2012 in Santa Monica, Calif.
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Amazon has set off a big Fire.

The Kindle Fire HD, Amazon's new souped-up tablet, will be bigger, faster and more expensive, the CEO Jeff Bezos announced today at a press event in Santa Monica, Calif.

"We haven't built the best tablet at a certain price. We have built the best tablet at any price," Bezos said.

Let's get techy: The Kindle Fire HD will come in two versions, a 7-inch and a larger, 8.9-inch 1920x1200 resolution, 254ppi display, an OMAP 4470 processor from Texas Instruments, an HD front-facing camera and dual stereo speakers. It also features MIMO (Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output), which only a small number of high-end laptops have, to receive data more quickly with multiple antennae.

The Kindle Fire HD starts at 16GB. The 7-inch, 16GB version will sell for $199 and the 8.9-inch, 16GB version will sell for $299. Both ship Nov. 20.

The larger Fire HD is not quite iPad size, which is 9.7 inches, but Bezos said Amazon's new device will get 41 percent faster Wi-Fi signals than Apple's iPad does. For $499, users can get the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD with 32GB, and a 4G LTE wireless network.

Amazon also announced an upgraded version of its original 7-inch Kindle Fire, with a 40 percent faster processor, longer battery life and more RAM. The price drops to $159 and it ships Sept. 14.

The online retail giant unveiled its sleek, new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, featuring a new monochromatic display that appears very white, like paper. Although it looks much like the current Kindle Touch, Paperwhite doesn't have a Home screen button, and hosts a higher resolution screen with a body that is "thinner than a magazine, lighter than a paperback," Bezos said.

Side note: For those who are still new to these gadgets, the Kindle Fire is a color tablet that features all types of media -- books, magazines, games, movies, music, Web -- whereas the Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Touch and original Kindle are e-readers meant for downloading and reading books or other text.

In Paperwhite, the fonts have been optimized for the new patented light guide to appear crisper. It also has a time measure, called "Time To Read," that can track your reading speed and give you an estimate of how much longer it will take you to finish the book.

The price: $119. It is available for orders today, but won't ship until Oct. 1. The Kindle Paperwhite with 3G connectivity built in will set buyers back $179.

The first edition, non-touch Kindle will now be sold at the reduced price of $69.

Bezos also talked up the latest and greatest features offered in the Kindle store, including 180,000 "exclusive" books and the debut of Kindle Serials, which allow users to buy book series as a whole collection for a flat rate.

The new Kindle Fire HD is "a hardware device that's a service," Bezos said, but for users, it's going to come down to whether they prefer Amazon's services over others', such as Apple and Google.

Amazon's new Kindle Paperwhite display takes direct aim at Barnes & Noble's Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight. The e-reader, which is lighter and thinner than the previous generation, still has an e-ink touch screen, but the screen resolution has been increased, the touch technology improved, and a screen light has been added. Bezos claimed it will have a whopping eight weeks of battery life, meaning users will be able to leave the adjustable light on all the time.

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