Amazon No Longer Kindles Its Fire

Category: Gadgets , Mobile

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.

Amazon Kindle and Fire models

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

Where's the Competition? The Kindle line competes with Barnes & Noble's Nook, and the Kobo Aura family of e-readers. The Fire lineup dukes it out with Apple's iPad, Google's Nexus tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Note/Tab models, and Microsoft's Surface Pro.

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...

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Most recent comments on "Amazon No Longer Kindles Its Fire"

Posted by:

25 Sep 2014

First, I love your articles, they are very helpful. I have three Kindle. Two are Fire. I use them on and off all day long. Love them and all the free stuff Amazon offers.

Posted by:

25 Sep 2014

I have an original Kindle Fire. I've had it for nearly three years. The hardware is good. It's a decent tablet although battery life is too short. Software is another story. Apps can only be ordered from Amazon.The browser isn't very good and you can't download Chrome. If you want a fully capable Android tablet, you'd be better off with a Google Nexxus. If you want an easy way to order merchandise and e-products from Amazon then, by all means, buy a Fire.

I also have a Kindle Paperwhite 3G with "special offers". When I bought mine, 3G cost extra. As Bob said, the ads are very unobtrusive. Downloads from the cloud or the Kindle bookstore are very fast over a wireless network. Downloads over 3G are slower but you can use it just about anywhere you happen to be. The Paperwhite is a great e-reader and I'd recommend it to anyone.

Posted by:

25 Sep 2014

I am on my 3rd Kindle (First 2 broke, my fault). I use it daily for reading mainly, I do play some games to pass the time, when away from laptop I use it for email, facebook and general browsing. Needless to say I don't go anywhere without my Fire. With that said My biggest complaint is the lack of organization capability for the books on the Fire. The first Kindle reader had an excellent way to organize the books but that was dropped with the Fire. With over 1000 books it would be nice to be able to organize them so that they can be referenced by whatever method I choose (sort of like the folders on my laptop.

Posted by:

John Wafford
25 Sep 2014

I find tablets and e-readers too large to carry around and I certainly wouldn't want to carry both an e-reader and a phone. I prefer to use my Galaxy S3 for everything except surfing at home, which I do on a desktop, and I do all my reading using the Kindle app on my phone.

Posted by:

25 Sep 2014

I'm still giggling over your comment about scratching off the K-word. Yes, I'm a bonafide Amazon groupie. Have a K Keyboard for reading only and a Fire HD for browsing and other stuff. I may be a tablet junkie- also have a LePan Mini. Am liking it so far, but haven't had it long. I swear it seems like they're debuting a new Kindle every week- I'm waiting for Kindle Glasses and the Kindle watch (wink).

Posted by:

25 Sep 2014

Is there any E-reader that will read to you, say if your eyes are tired or do you need a tablet with and a different kind of book, say an audio book?

Posted by:

25 Sep 2014

I own 2 kindle tablets. The Fire is used for reading in bed. The Touch is used for reading outdoors. It has the free 3G. That is one of the reasons I bought it. Use them both almost daily.

I also have a 10.1" android tablet that I use as a music book for pdf files. A needed a larger screen for that.

Posted by:

26 Sep 2014

According to Wikipedia: "The Nexus 7 is intended to take advantage of the different media formats available through the application store [Google Play], including e-books, movies, music, games, magazines, and television programs."
Nexus 7 is the tablet I use for most things away from my PC. It's also easy to use to download ebooks borrowed from my public library. I also have a Kobo Touch which I enjoy using for reading books I have purchased from the Kobo store. I can download to Kobo from the library via Adobe Digital Editions on my PC, though I rarely use that feature. The Kobo software works very smoothly with the epub format of the books I buy.

Posted by:

26 Sep 2014

I have a couple of dedicated Kindle ereaders with 3G and got a wi-fi Fire HDX 8.9 tablet on a lightning deal on Amazon about 6 weeks ago. I prefer the dedicated ereaders for books and use the tablet for browsing and email. The tablets aren’t the greatest for my eyes as an ereader, although I would use it as such in a pinch if I had to although I would eagerly listen to the book on the Fire. Videos on the HDX are stunning and the silk browser is fast. The size is just perfect. Also like the built-in ability to dictate emails on the Fire. I think each has its place. Both are compact enough to carry with me.

Posted by:

26 Sep 2014

Duane - Best to use a tablet and hook into the local library (ebooks). You sign in with your library card and password and download from there. You can find an app to cover this (ebooks library app). I've downloaded an audio book before and it was lovely. I lay in bed with my head-phones on.

Posted by:

26 Sep 2014

Dave -- There is an app for the Fire that allows you to organize your book titles. I haven't tried it so I can't attest to its capabilities.

Duane -- The Kindle Keyboard (originally called the 3rd Generation Kindle)had a voice synthesizer that would read text to you if the publisher allowed it to be enabled for their titles. You can choose a male or female voice and the reading speed. My wife loves it even though the voices are very mechanical sounding. You can still order a used one from Amazon.

The other option is to order the Audible version but this is much more expensive than the regular e-book.

Not all Kindle e-readers have sound capability. The Paperwhite has none.

Posted by:

26 Sep 2014

To Duane
If you just want an e reader,you could look into They have a large choice of audio books and with an initial subscription, they often have free audible readers.(They are just audio, not readers).I've used audible for years and really enjoy it. I know, I sound like an ad, but I'm really just a consumer.
Also, they have apps for smartphones and computers.

Posted by:

26 Sep 2014

I'm on my 3rd Kindle..upgrading each time. I now have a Fire 8.9". I must admit to being a junkie,too. I use it for reading and listening to books. My preference is listening and since I've gotten a wireless headset, I can walk around the house as I'm doing chores and not bother my husband.
I also surf the web, watch TV programs and movies(thru Amazon Prime), check email, play games, and do almost anything I can do on my computer, but with the ability to do it anywhere. I'm hooked!

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