Amazon is not giving up on its foray into the hardware market. After the disastrous fate of the much hyped Fire Phone, the e-commerce giant takes back to what it does best - aggressively priced tablets and e-readers.
At a closed-door media event on Wednesday, Amazon unveiled six new hardware products, most notable of which is a new six-inch Kindle Fire HD that buyers can get for $99. Dubbed the Kindle Fire HD 6, the sub-$100 tablet is one of the smallest and cheapest products on the market. For its price, however, Amazon claims it is one of the best tablets available for people who are content with a slate without all the bells and whistles of an iPad.
Amazon is now accepting pre-orders for the Fire HD 6 and will start shipping the device in October. With a 1280 x 800 full-HD resolution and a 1.5 GHz quad-core MediaTek mobile processor, which Amazon claims has three times the GPU power of the Samsung Tab 4's processor, the Fire HD 6 is said to provide a rich media viewing experience without the huge price tag that usually comes with it. All other features leave something more to be desired for the technology enthusiast. The rear camera isn't hugely better than the VGA front camera and the slate doesn't have support for Wi-Fi 802.11ac, but the 8 GB tablet should be more than a good deal for $99. Users who want more storage can also get a 16 GB version for an additional $20.
Also introduced was a Fire HD 7, which as its name implies, is a seven-inch Fire HD that sells for $139. Both the Fire HD 6 and Fire HD 7 run on the latest Fire OS 4.0 Sangria on top of Google's Android 4.4 KitKat, which feature Firefly, Family Library and free cloud storage for photos taken with Amazon devices.
Amazon also launched two Kids Edition Fire tablets, a $149 8 GB Fire HD 6 Kids Edition and a $189 Fire HD 7 Kids Edition, which both come with a thick, comfortable case to protect the device from the hard beating kids' devices usually get from their owners. The Kids Edition tablets also include a two-year warranty that lets parents have damaged tablets replaced as long as they send the broken tablet to Amazon.
"Fire HD Kids Edition is a real tablet," says Amazon vice president of devices Peter Larsen. "Kids break things, so we added a 2-year, no-questions-asked, worry-free guarantee."
Amazon also incorporated a free one-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited, which gives parents and their children access to more than 5,000 kid-friendly movies, apps and games. The cost of a FreeTime subscription after the one-year trial is up is $129.
The $379 Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 also received a minor upgrade under the hood, with a new Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor promising better overall performance. The resolution also got a boost, with the 2560 x 1600 display featuring 339 pixels per inch. Amazon also upgraded the Fire HDX 8.9's Wi-Fi to the 802.11ac standard.
Amazon also introduced the latest in its line of e-readers, the Kindle Voyage, a 7.6mm-thick e-reader that Amazon says is the thinnest and lightest Kindle reader ever made. Voyage features 300 pixels per inch, giving it the highest resolution for an e-reader and a micro-etched glass that reduces glare even in bright sunlight. Amazon also says that the flush-glass design of Voyage makes it more responsive than the Kindle Paperwhite. Voyage is available for pre-order for $199.