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Amazon has made a splash with its introduction of several upgrades to its existing tablet lineup, and threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the tablet world with its brand-new Kindle Fire HDs
Where there's kindling, there's fire
Jeff Bezos made a slew of Amazon tablet announcements Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif., including everything from price drops on old Kindles to ambitious new models. Here's a quick breakdown.
The Kindle Paperlight boasts improved touch accuracy, better display lighting and new fonts, as well as a slim new design. It's available for $119 in a Wi-Fi only configuration, or for $179 with no-contract, no-fee 3G service. Also, the original Kindle dropped in price to $69.
The new Kindle Fire
Perhaps worried by the impact of the Nexus 7 tablet on its existing Kindle Fire sales, Amazon re-tooled the product -- adding upgraded internals and a better battery -- and dropping the price to $159.
The REAL new Kindle Fire: Kindle Fire HD
The Kindle Fire HD was the headliner of Thursday's event, boasting Wi-Fi improvements and a price of $199 for a 7-inch model and $299 for a more iPad-esque 8.9-inch device. The larger version will also sport an eye-popping 1920x1200-pixel display -- making for potentially ground-breaking video viewing quality.
Kindle Fire HD 4G LTE (OMG)
Of course, the real enthusiast could opt to get the full Monty -- a Kindle Fire HD 8.9-incher with 4G/LTE connectivity. At $499 for 32GB of storage, the device is cheaper than any 4G-equipped new iPad, as Amazon was keen to point out. However, while the $50 annual mobile data fee is cheap enough, users may find it all too easy to blow through the 250MB monthly allowance in an evening's viewing.
X-Ray for movies
Amazon's X-Ray feature for books -- allowing readers to check back to earlier references to characters for continuity -- just got added to movies, thanks to IMDB integration. Viewers can simply tap the screen to get contextual information about actors in a given scene or movie.
Tablet users with kids now have more options for parental control and time management with FreeTime. The system allows parents to control the types of content their kids can access through a tablet, and even limit the amount of viewing or gaming they can do, while allowing them to read as much as they like.
While the 8.9-inch versions of the Kindle Fire HD won't ship until Nov. 20, the 7-incher will reach consumers shortly after Sept. 14. The new Kindle Paperlight will ship Oct. 1.
The Kindle Fire 8.9-inch with games
The Kindle Fire 8.9-inch
Kindle Paperwhite in cover