Oh my God. Amazon just kicked its game into high gear with a great big cup of awesome. At a press event in Santa Monica on Thursday, CEO Jeff Bezos revealed a total Kindle overhaul. While Amazon was expected to unveil a new Kindle today, it has unveiled a whole family of new Kind Fires, as well as a new Kindle e-reader, new Kindle features, and new low, low prices. I actually feel compelled to say “these prices can’t be beat!” in a sweaty used car salesman voice.
The whole thing can really be summed up in one line—a point that Jeff Bezos made during the event: “We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices.”
To that end, a slew of new features for the tablets and e-readers was revealed. But first, let’s start with the devices themselves.
Bezos started with the newest e-reader to join the Kindle family: the Paperwhite. Like B&N’s Nook with Glowlight, the Paperwhite comes with its own lightsource—a light on the front that is actually directed down onto the display rather than from the back. It comes with a full eight weeks of battery life, even with the light on. The screen features 25% more contrast than Pearl screens and has a 62% higher resolution display. And at $119 for the Wi-Fi version, it’s cheaper than the Nook with Glowlight, which starts at $139 for the Wi-Fi only version. Amazon is taking orders now and will ship Kindle Paperwhites starting October 1.
Kindle Fire HD
Now this is pretty amazing, because up until now, it’s always been understood that the options are 1) super expensive but high-quality iPad, or 2) super cheap and kind of crappy Kindle Fire. But Bezos unveiled two new Kindle Fires that look like they may actually have something to offer in the quality department.
Called Kindle Fire HD, the tablet comes in two sizes: an 8.9-inch display and a 7-inch display. The HD models feature sharper resolution and contrast, as well as a new HD front-facing camera.
Now the part where the Apple might need to start worrying: Jeff Bezos says that the Kindle Fire HD will actually be faster than the iPad—like 41% faster—because it has two Wi-Fi antennas to cut down on interference.
The 7-inch 16GB Kindle Fire HD will start at $199 and the 8.9-inch version will retail for $299. The tablets will start shipping on September 14 and November 20, respectively.
In addition to the new HD tablets, Amazon also made over the original Kindle Fire so that it now has twice the RAM of the original, longer battery life, and a faster processor. And it’s getting a new low, low price: $159 (“these prices can’t be f***ing beat!!”). That blows the Nook Tablet and Google’s Nexus 7 out of the water.
But the most exciting part of the whole event, I think, was the bevy of new features Bezos unveiled today, including:
Immersion reading: read your Kindle book while a voice reads it out loud to you. This is actually brilliant for people who have difficulty focusing on what they’re reading, and it improves retention.
X-Ray for movies, books, and textbooks: get information on actors and scenes while watching a movie, or tap on certain terms in a book to get definitions, videos, pictures, Wikipedia entries, etc.
FreeTime for kids: lets parents set time limits for kids depending on the activity. So a parent might make reading time unlimited while setting 30 minute limits on TV, movies, or games. And different time limits can be set for different kids.
WhisperSync for Games: pick up right where you left off.
Bezos announced that readers will now be able to purchase serials for $1.99 and will get new installments as they arrive. To start with, Amazon will be re-releasing Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist in its original serialized form. Bezos says that the new serialized format will allow authors to gather readers’ reactions and adapt their stories accordingly.
Holy shit, man!
Amazon shares hit a record high Thursday afternoon at $252.
Image source: techcrunch