Epic Reviews

New Kindle Fire Tablets

       Newly announced Kindle Paperwhite,
             Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD

Amazon has announced their Fall lineup of tablets and e-readers- a full range of devices designed and priced to tempt you away from Apple’s iPad and soon to be announced iPad mini. I like the range of devices that Amazon is offering- letting you get into the tablet game without having to spend any more than you want or having to buy a beefy piece of hardware if all you want is to read books and check your email.

The top of the line Kindle HD 8.9 inch tablet with 32gb of memory and built-in 4G internet connectivity will run you $499 and won’t be available until sometime in November. It really is an iPad rival in everything except the Apple content creation apps. And even though the full sized new iPad starts at $499, when you add memory and 4G you can be looking at $649 or more. If you are really going to "do something" with your tablets (as in create content- edit photos, put together video clips with musical backgrounds to post, etc) then go for the iPad. If you want a top-of-the-line content consumption (watch videos, YouTube, look at pictures, listen to music, play games and apps) then this new 8.9 inch Kindle HD is an excellent choice.

Down the price ladder are variations of the Kindle HD with less memory, no 4G (only wi-fi) and a smaller, 7-inch screen. The smallest, cheapest version of the Kindle HD will sell for just $199. The "regular" Kindle Fire is getting an upgrade in screen resolution and speed and the price will start at $159. And interestingly early "hands-on" with the folks at Anandtech indicates that the least expensive Kindle Fire, without the HD and big screen, seems to be the smoothest playing of the bunch. It seems the HD screen resolution may require more oomph than the tablet graphics chip can process.

If the pricing seems too good to be true- it sort of is. Everything in the Kindle lineup is ad-based, by default. This means your lock screen will be various ads- and having these ads on your Kindle will help keep the price down. If you REALLY don’t want the ads to appear Amazon has relented from their original position of there being no option to turn off the ads, to now saying a $15 charge will remove the ads ($15/year?)

A final cool new feature on the Kindle lineup is "Free Time"- an application that lets you setup the Kindle for kids to use. This means time restrictions and limits on the rating of music, movies and games that can be viewed while they are logged in. This is something parents have wanted for a while. And it is something that might convince this parent to choose a Kindle Fire as a present for one of my kids this Christmas instead of the Google Nexus 7 that I was considering.

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