Amazon unveils seven new Kindle tablets and e-readers

Amazon's tablet called the Kindle Fire on display.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Amazon's tablet called the Kindle Fire on display.

The annual busy season for tech gadgets continues on with Amazon, which announced a whopping seven new Kindle devices on Wednesday.

All of the new gadgets, which were demonstrated for reporters at an event space in New York, are updates or new entries to the company's Fire tablet and Kindle e-reader lines. They can be pre-ordered starting Wednesday night, and they will ship sometime in October (Amazon declined to provide specific dates).

Here's a quick rundown on Amazon's new product line, which now ranges from a $79 low-end e-reader to a $379 Kindle Fire HDX tablet.

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Kindle Fire HDX: The HDX is the flagship model of the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet line, and the new 8.9-inch model is thinner and faster than its predecessor. The device starts at $379.

The HDX screen display, which is now sharper at 339 pixels per inch, includes a new feature called "dynamic light control." At the New York gadget demo, an Amazon executive held the Fire HDX near a light bulb and showed how the screen changed from a bluish-white to a more natural brown-tinged hue — meant to look more like paper as lighting conditions change.

Amazon also hyped up Fire HDX's improvements in audio, which the company says is twice as loud as iPad Air with Dolby surround-sound speakers. On the productivity side, a super-thin keyboard attachment sells for an additional $60.

Amazon's 3 Kindles and a deal
Amazon's 3 Kindles and a deal   

Kindle Fire HD 6 and 7: Amazon also refreshed the tablet that's a step down from the HDX: The Kindle Fire HD, which is now available in both the new 6-inch ($99) and 7-inch ($139) models in a range of colors. Each of the high-definition displays are crisper than that of the previous Fire HD, which was available only in a 7-inch model.

Both the Fire HD and HDX models will run the new Fire OS 4 "Sangria," Amazon's operating system that is built on Android. Fire OS 4 adds features like Firefly — which lets users scan real-world images to get information, as Amazon previewed during its Fire Phone announcement earlier this year — and the ability to create family member profiles. Fire OS 4 will come loaded on the new Fire tablets, and it'll be available for the prior generation of the devices via a software update.

...and Fire HD for kids: The Kindle Fire HD 6 and 7 each come in new "Kids Edition" options — $149 and $189, respectively. When little Susie smashes the screen, parents can send the sad remaining bits of the broken device back to Amazon and receive a replacement. The offer is good for two years after purchase. An included rubber pink, blue or green case is meant to stand up to the terror of toddlers so the devices are less likely to break in the first place.

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The Fire HD Kids Editions also come with a year of unlimited access to Free Time (the typical cost is $2.99 per month for Amazon Prime customers), an existing app that features 5,000 pieces of kid-friendly content and lets parents set limits on screen time and content.

Other than that, they're the same exact devices as the"adult" Fire HD 6 and 7. "Parents were asking us about buying a kid-friendly tablet versus another one, and we thought that was a false choice," an Amazon executive said at the New York demo.

Two Kindle e-readers: The $199 Kindle Voyage is the new high-end device in Amazon's dedicated e-reader line. Unlike the Fire tablets, Kindle e-readers feature E-Ink screens that are not backlit, meant to resemble real paper.

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The Voyage is the next generation of the Kindle Paperwhite, but it's thinner at 7.6 millimeters (three-tenths of an inch). Among other new features, the Voyage includes Page Press, which lets readers turn pages by lightly pressing on one of the sides of the device.

Amazon will also sell a new low-end Kindle e-reader for $79, which features an E-Ink touchscreen and a faster processor. That new Kindle's name is simply ... "Kindle."