It wasn't too long ago when Amazon's biggest tech achievement was trading online. Thing sure have changed since, for the e-tailer is quickly growing into a quite ambitious project, and one that seems to work. That's mostly thanks to what has turned into somewhat of a magic formula for success in the mobile industry – you don't necessarily have to hold content and hardware in both hands to make it through, but it sure helps a lot. What's interesting with Amazon's new additions to its line-up of tablets is that the they represent a testament to the company's ambitions, despite their lack of hardware history. Just how good are the two new Kindle Fire HDX tablets, though? Let's have a look.
New, sleeker design
Keeping to tradition, Amazon is again treating us with two nearly identical versions of the same product, though they do differ in one pretty major regard: size. What that means is that, like with the Kindle Fire HD before them, the new slates also come in a 7- and 8.9-inch versions. Both, however, have seen an extensive design overhaul – the tablets are now industrial-looking and sleeker, and also a fair bit lighter at 303 and 374 grams, respectively, as well as a tad more compact. What's more, Amazon has, like LG, decided that hardware buttons' are meant to be on the back of a device, so those have been moved.
But Amazon isn't about to drop the ball and rest on looks alone – the internals of the new tablets are beastly. We're talking 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800, 2GB of RAM and up to 11 hours of battery life (17 hours in Reading Mode, more on that later). Still not impressed? The pixel density on Amazon's new boys should help – the 7-inch version sports a resolution of 1920x1200, or 323 ppi, while its bigger sibling has crossed into iPad territory with a 2560x1600 resolution, or 339 ppi. The LCD displays on the new Kindles are actually a point of pride for Amazon – they feature some interesting sensor-based tech that will adjust contrast when bright environments threaten to overpower color fidelity. We'll be keeping an eye out for this.
Amazon's Fire OS 3.0 fork of Android is surprisingly good
Amazon has been known for forking Android when it comes to its tablets, and this isn't about to change. In fact, Amazon is releasing a new version 3.0 of its Fire OS (aka Mojito), which brings a swath of changes both in UI design and features. We obviously haven't had a chance to play with it just yet, though some of the seemingly notable changes include a break-away from the carousel – there's now grid view for all the content on your tablet. Several mandatory apps, such as Gmail, the calendar and document-editing apps have also been improved.
As you probably know, Amazon is quite big on reading, and if the troves of content haven't made that obvious enough, then the all-new Reading Mode that we touched on before should. The new feature basically shuts down all non-essential processes when you want to go for a read, which in turn cranks battery lifetime to a reported 17 hours.
Another very interesting feature of Fire OS 3.0 is the so-called Mayday option. Mayday represents a sort of a 24/7 remote helpline for HDX owners and is said to connect you to a live support rep in 15 seconds, which sounds quite amazing. What's even more amazing is that the feature allows the user to see the actual person who's helping him troubleshoot in a small window on the tablet, whereas the Amazon employee sees what's running on the customer's tablet. TheVerge has already reported that in their experience, the new service works as advertised, and we can't deny that we're impressed and looking forward to testing it out for ourselves.
Price and release date
With the holidays soon to be upon us, many of you will be in the market for some new goodies. Amazon's offerings usually qualify with ease as far as Christmas shopping goes, mainly because of the really great price to quality ratio of their slates. Speaking of price, in the case of the HDX 7, it'll be $229/$269/$309 for the 16GB/32GB/64GB version, respectively, while those of you looking for some connectivity on the go will have to dole out $329/$369/$409 for the 16GB/32GB/64GB 4G LTE version, respectively. Looking for some more real estate? Then the HDX 8.9 will set you back $379/$429/$479 for the 16GB/32GB/64GB version, respectively. If you've got 4G LTE on your mind, then you'll have to dip into your savings, it's $479/$529/$579 for the 16GB/32GB/64GB 4G LTE version, in that order.
And if Christmas still appears distant to you, then we're happy to report that Amazon is already taking preorders, though the new tabs won't start shipping until October 18, in the case of the 7-inch HDX, and November 7, in the case of the 8.9 HDX.