Amazon has unveiled two new tablets, the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch and the HDX 8.9-inch. The machines are the next generation in Amazon's tablet strategy, but Amazon is keeping the original Fire HD—albeit in a slightly updated package—on sale at a reduced price of just $139.
The HDX machines are faster than the original Fire HD, sporting quad-core processors running at 2.2 GHz. Both have very high resolution screens, with the 7-inch machine's 1920 by 1200 pixel display reaching a retina-busting 339 pixels per inch. The smaller unit pricing begins at $239 and will be available October 15, while the larger tablet (which also sports an 8 megapixel camera on the rear) will cost $379 and be available on November 7th. 4G versions are an extra $100 each.
The two tablets are being launched alongside an unusual origami cover that's like Apple's magnetic Smart Covers, but with a few extra twists to make them more capable as display stands. And both tablets are being promoted alongside some important Amazon extras like the ability to stream content over the cloud to connected devices like select smart TVs and games consoles like the PS3. There's also the MayDay feature, a help button that connects you over the Net to a real human who can control your tablet and show you how to fix or achieve things. Like the previous tablets, the HDXs are said to be priced so that Amazon is selling them almost at cost—which underlines that their real purpose is not to delight customers, but to channel more customer dollars over the long term into Amazon's coffers via purchases of mainly Amazon content, not anyone else's, like books and videos.
But here's the rub: Portions of the tech press have gone ga-ga over the new machines, and they are indeed interesting. But these commenters have forgotten that Amazon won't say how many tablets it has sold to date. And the devices, like nearly every Kindle tablet thus far, are a distinctly U.S.-centric affair. Amazon's App Store, for example, only became available in a handful of European nations last month, nearly a year and a half after its initial launch, and many services are limited overseas—like Instant Video, which is U.S.-only, and even music buying. The HDXs are simply not iPad "killers," especially since Apple sells its devices around the world and serves apps, music, video, and more to its consumers. Apple is also rumored to be poised to release updated iPads and iPad Minis in just a few weeks.
[Image courtesy Amazon]