Amazon, no doubt drowned by a deluge of Apple-related news, has released a flood of new Kindles. At the top end, there’s a brand new magnesium-body Kindle Voyage e-book reader and an updated Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. At the low end, there’s a new 6-inch Kindle Fire HD6 and a new $80 Kindle e-book reader with touch controls. And finally, in the middle, there’s the Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition — a ruggedized kid-proof tablet that comes in 6- and 7-inch flavors, costing $150 and $190 respectively.
According to early hands-on impressions, the Kindle Voyage is very slick indeed. The Voyage is essentially an upgrade to 2012’s Kindle Paperwhite, with the latest e-ink display technology, a magnesium back, and a new page-turning method called PagePress. The Voyage’s display touts a resolution of 300 PPI, and significantly increased contrast. The screen is now flush with the bezel, too, which makes the device look very slick indeed. The front-lit screen now adapts to ambient lighting. With PagePress, you can now turn pages just by pushing down on the bezel — haptic feedback will let you know that the page turn was successful. The whole thing, with the magnesium back, is very slim indeed — just 7.6mm — and it’s lighter than the Paperwhite too. The only problem is price: The Kindle Voyage starts at $200 for the WiFi model with Special Offers.
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 has also been updated. It now has a quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor, and is the first tablet to be equipped with Dolby Atmos technology. It still has the same 2560×1600 display. The Amazon product page insists that you get a lot more for your money with the Fire HDX 8.9 than the iPad Air — and if you just want to watch films and TV shows, that’s probably correct. Pricing starts at $380 for the 16GB version with Special Offers. Amazon is also debuting a Fire Keyboard for the HDX 8.9, which is very reminiscent of the Surface’s Type Cover — but it doesn’t attach to the tablet, instead using Bluetooth for pairing. It costs $60.
There’s also two brand new Kindle Fire HD tablets at the bottom of the stack: The 6-inch HD 6, and the 6- and 7-inch Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition. For $100, you can have a 6-inch tablet with 8GB of storage and a decent 1280×800 display — or for $134 you can have a 16GB version without Special Offers. Both are a pretty good deal, especially as they come with a free month of Prime and Kindle Unlimited. The Kids Edition tablet is basically the same thing, but with a rugged outer case. It costs $150, but it comes with a two-year “if they break it, we’ll replace it for free” guarantee, and a year of Amazon FreeTime, which gives kids unlimited access to books, educational apps, etc. Both of these new tablets have front- and rear-facing cameras, and they come in a range of nice colors, too.
Finally, the end-of-the-line Kindle now has a touchscreen display — and the price has gone up accordingly, to $80 with Special Offers.
Along with the new hardware, Amazon is also releasing a new version of Fire OS — version 4.0, for those keeping count — that’s based on Android 4.4 KitKat. There are a few tweaks and new features, but nothing too crazy. All the new tablets will ship with the new version of Fire OS, and last year’s Kindle Fires will receive the update over-the-air.
Overall, it’s a strong showing of new products from Amazon. The Kindle Voyage, despite its very odd name, will no doubt keep Amazon in the e-book reader pole position. The $100 Kindle Fire HD 6 and Fire HD Kids Edition are both very well-placed products that will do very well this holiday season — and will hopefully distract from the abject failure of the Fire Phone. All of the new Kindle devices will be available in October and can be pre-ordered today.