The Amazon Kindle Fire has gone from one device to a family of value-priced tablets designed to make it easy to get your app and content fix. What’s the big deal? Other than the low prices, the $199 7-inch and $299 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD both boast high-def displays with ultra-wide viewing angles, exclusive Dolby audio stereo speakers and dual-band Wi-Fi for 40 percent faster downloads.
There’s also a 4G LTE version of the bigger 8.9-inch model that comes with a dirt-cheap $50 yearly data plan and a souped-up version of the original Kindle Fire that’s just $159. Plus, all four of the new Fires sport handy new features like Kindle FreeTime for robust parental controls and X-Ray for Movies and Books for learning more about characters and other background info. While the new Fires display ads on the lock screen (bummer) you can disable them by paying an extra $15.
Which of these tablets is right for you? Here’s your quick guide to all of the new Fires.
Amazon has improved the Kindle Fire with a newer, faster processor and 1GB of RAM – twice the amount of the original. At $159, this 7-inch tablet looks like an absolute steal. Amazon also promises longer battery life, giving you more time to enjoy Amazon’s massive library of 22 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, books, apps and more. Just keep in mind that the display has the same 1024 x 600 resolution from last year, and that the design still doesn’t include physical volume controls or a front-facing camera.
The Kindle Fire HD boasts an impressive 1280 x 800 HD screen (just like the Google Nexus 7) and 11 hours of battery life , 3 hours more than the regular Fire. This 13.9-ounce slate also sports a faster 1.2-GHz OMAP 4470 processor, Dolby Audio that powers the
stereo speakers and dual-antenna Wi-Fi. Plus, unlike the regular Fire, you can make Skype calls using the front-facing HD camera. Although the $199 Kindle Fire HD with 16GB of storage probably will not satisfy those who love storing all their media on their portable device, there is a 32GB option available for $249.
A bigger tablet that’s great for watching HD movies (or seeing more of webpages at once), the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD packs a dazzling 1920 x 1200 display with anti-glare technology. This device also see a step up in processing power from the 7-inch model, from 1.2 GHz to 1.5 GHz, while including Imagination SGX544 3D graphics for smooth gameplay. Other features include a front-facing HD camera and dual-band Wi-Fi with MIMO technology. At 1.25 pounds, the Fire HD is heavier than the .86-pound 7-inch model, but it’s still lighter than the 1.4-pound third-generation iPad.
This $499 Kindle Fire gives you 4G LTE speeds for $130 less than what you would pay AT&T or Verizon for the iPad with LTE. If surfing the web and keeping up with the news cycle is your obsession, you will get the most out of your money with this Kindle. However, the very cheap starting data plan doesn’t cover much data. For $50 a year, you get just 250MB of 4G data per month. While that’s cheaper than the $15 AT&T charges iPad owners for the same amount of MBs, you’ll probably be better off with the $30 3GB plan or $50 5 GB plan.