Amazon No Longer Kindles Its Fire
Amazon recently reshuffled its mobile device product lines, adding new models and renaming everything to draw a bright line between tablets and ereaders. If you're confused about what is and isn't a Kindle, or what makes a Fire so hot, now is a good time to review the Amazon mobile gadget lineup…
Amazon Shakes Up Kindle and Fire
First, the word “Kindle” is henceforth reserved for dedicated e-readers; the former “Kindle Fire” tablets are now just “Fire” tablets. The Kindle lineup, with high resolution displays and adaptive lighting, is designed primarily to read ebooks. The Fire is meant to be a more general purpose tablet. Of course you can still read ebooks on a Fire tablet. (If yours says "Kindle Fire" on it, you might want to scratch off the K-word to avoid being embarrassed at digerati cocktail parties.)
All Amazon devices have two prices: with or without “special offers” -- better known as ads. The ads are displayed as a screensaver when a device is idle; they don’t pop up in the middle of reading or whatever you’re doing on a tablet. So they're not really that annoying. The ad-free price is always $20 more than the ad-subsidized prices quoted throughout this article.
In the dedicated ebook reader lineup, the newest Kindle model is the $199 Kindle Voyage, the thinnest Kindle yet, which sports a magnesium body. Its display is 39% brighter and has a much higher pixel density (300 ppi) than the $119 Kindle Paperwhite, making it a lot easier on the eyes even in bright sunlight.
The Voyage and Paperwhite have WiFi capability, and come with free, unlimited 3G (cellular) connectivity. The 3G connection is provided to ensure that you can access the Amazon store and buy more stuff. Both models also have a stripped-down "experimental" browser that can be used to access web sites. If you're connected via WiFi, you can access any site. If you're on the free 3G, you are limited to visiting the Amazon and Wikipedia websites. But on a grayscale display, the Web isn't that exciting anyway. Flash, Java and video won't work either. (Remember, this is supposed to be an ebook reader, not a general purpose tablet.)
The low-end plain-old Kindle now has a touchscreen (eliminating the “Kindle Touch” model) and costs just $79. Pages turn faster and with less ghosting thanks to a 20% faster processor. This model includes only WiFi connectivity. The Kindle comes with a 30 day free trial of Kindle Unlimited, normally $9.99/month for all the Kindle ebooks you can read. Also new is Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, a $2.99/month option that gives kids access to titles selected just for them.
Amazon's Fire Tablets
The Fire tablet family now includes three models. At the low end, there's the Fire HD ($99 with 8 GB of storage, $119 with 16 GB) sports a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor that’s 2.5 times faster than previous generations. The 6-inch screen displays 252 ppi at 1280x800 pixels. Front and rear cameras are included, and photos can be stored on Amazon Cloud for free. A year’s worth of Amazon Prime and a 30-day trial of Kindle Unlimited are included. (There's also a 7-inch Fire HD model that sells for $139)
The Fire HD Kids Edition ($149 with 6-inch display, $189 for 7 inches) has a ruggedized case and a two-year “worry-free guarantee:” if it breaks, Amazon will replace it without charge. It comes with a free year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited (regularly $2.99/mo.) providing unlimited access to 5,000 child-appropriate books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games. Parental controls are in there, too.
The Fire HDX 8.9 is the Ferrari of the Fire family. Prices are $379 with 16 GB; $429 with 32 GB, or $479 with 64 GB. Connectivity options are WiFi-only, Verizon, or AT&T; additional costs and two-year contracts are detailed on the Fire’s page. The 8.9-inch HDX display has 30% more pixels than an iPad Air Retina, and at 13.2 ounces the Fire HDX 8.9 is 20% lighter, too. A year’s worth of Amazon Prime and 30 days of Kindle Unlimited are included.
I've hit just the highlights of the Fire tablets; read the detailed specs linked above and you’ll be pretty impressed. Amazon has a full spectrum of well-defined e-reader and tablet products that includes something for every kind of user.
Are you a loyal Amazoner, an Apple fan, or a hard-core Google devotee? Do you use your mobile device primarily for ebook reading, or as a general purpose tablet? Your thoughts are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 24 Sep 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Amazon No Longer Kindles Its Fire (Posted: 24 Sep 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved