Today Amazon announced new “Paperwhite” models of its Kindle ebook reader as well as a new Kindle Fire HD edition of its tablet, a version available in two sizes and one with 4G LTE support.
Below is my live coverage of the news. See also our more formal story, Upgraded Kindle Fire Now $159, New “HD” Tablets Also Aggressively Priced
Here we go, video of the TV commercial that Amazon aired last night showing:
Jeff Bezos comes out. “We love to invent. We love to pioneer. We even love going down alleys that turnout to be blind alleys” But every once in a while those alleys turn into broad avenues.
Now he’s reading an email from a happy customer. “Customers are smart.” Last year, 2 dozen Android tablets launched “and nobody bought them. why? because they are gadgets. and people don’t want gadgets any more. they want services. they want services that get better over time.”
“Kindle Fire is a service. Comes out of the box with your name, with your content. “Keeps your place for you … keeps all of your content in the Amazon cloud backed up, worry free.”
Now video for “new Kindle” he says. Not sure if he means new Kindle or new new Kindle expected today. These are the old new: My life among the Kindles: Comparing the models. These are new new, showing now people with a backlit device (yea).
Now Bezos is out, waving a Kindle Paperwhite around in the dark. Says the display they wanted didn’t exist, now talking some of the 4 years of R&D, he says. Says the light is designed in a way to direct it actually down to the display.
“People are going to love the light so much they’ll leave it on all the time,” saying they’ve worked to then overcome power issues, will last 8 weeks, he says. “Thinner than a magazine, lighter than a paperback.”
Now demoing how it works, showing smallest font size, says without light and resolution and contrast, wouldn’t show as well.
Showing how to adjust the light.
Showing a “time to read” feature that tells you how long to read the rest of a chapter or a book, people asked, because with an ebook it’s hard to know (it is).
Showing an “X Ray” feature that allows you to see when characters first appear in a novel and reappear (very nice).
Cost, $119, should be able to order today, ships Oct. 1. Free 3G in over 100 countries if you buy the $179 3G version. The $79 basic Kindle remains being upgraded, faster page turns “and now we’re going to call it the $69 Kindle,” ships Sept. 14.
I know many people are focused on the tablet and possible phone news, but the updates to the Kindle for an ebook reader (which I am) are really important, really helpful, nice touches. Wish there was a words-per-minute read feature, though.
Kindle Direct Publishing
Now he’s reading off rejection letters various authors like Dr. Seuss or Kathryn Stockett received. Says he’s amazed how many authors keep going but also sad who many authors give up in the face of rejection. Could Amazon do something to help? That’s Kindle Direct Publishing. “It’s working,” he says of the program. 27 of the top 100 Kindle Books come out of the program.
Now KDP authors are on video talking about their successes.
Now he’s shifted to the Kindle Singles, stats of 35 reaching the Kindle Top 50. But for next invention, “Could we reach back into the past for some inspiration.” Talking Dickens now to introduce Kindle Serials. Buy once, get all future “episodes.”
Oliver Twist and Pickwick Club to be reissued along with eight new $1.99 Serials that cover all episodes.
Now on to Kindle Fire. Talking about rave reviews it got when came out. Said are improving it and lowering price to $159. Kindle Fire HD is new “and we decided to go big” and shows a larger Kindle Fire HD, 9.9″ 1920×1200 in plane switching 244PPI.
Talking display but saying you also need a great processor and graphic engine. Stats on how awesome memory and processor are versus Tegra 3.
Dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus, first tablet he says to every have that.
Now he’s showing buffering thermometers, saying “No one likes that … other tablet makers are not paying enough attention to wifi. They are not giving it the attention it deserves.”
the 2.4 GHz band is incredible crowded versus the 5 GHz band. And if you’re serious about wifi, you can also add two antennas. Helps deal with fading, when you lose the signal, the other antenna can pick up if it’s closer. Also helps deal with if your hand perhaps covers one of the antennas. Finally, there’s MIMO. This is like Bill Clinton doing how wifi works :)
With MIMO, you can turn echos from wifi down and into an “opportunity.” With it, the echos are like a second chance to hear the signal. Each time you hear the echo, you can untangle the coded communication. Kindle Fire HD will be first tablet to use MIMO, which he says, doesn’t even happen on many laptops.
Kindle HD wifi is about 50% faster than both iPad and Nexus 7, first time he’s named some competing tablets. Also showing some stats:
He says 8GB is “dead on arrival” for storage when dealing with HD content:
So Kindle HD will have 16GB.
WhisperSync for voice means you can listen to an audiobook, say when you’re in a car, then pick it up to read in text when back home.
Movies, if you’re watching, apparently you can click to learn more about actors.
Email. “We have build the best [Microsoft] Exchange integration of any tablet” as part of working to improve email overall (nice if it plays out, Android is so behind here — see my long post about this.
Kindle FreeTime, allow parents to set timelimits for different types of activities, plus the ability to have profiles for different kids. I love both of these. Love it more if I can share my books from my account easily to one of my kids’ profiles.
Screen turns blue when in FreeTime mode “so from across the room, as a parent, you can tell.”
Now we’re watching The Hunger Games on the Kindle Fire HD. He’s showing how you can bring up Xray to discover more about actors in a movie. It appears off to the top left (sorry it’s blurry, he moves through things fast):
Now talking games. Ability to buy a character in a game as both a physical toy shipped to you and for the game itself.
Shows ability to browse photos that are stored quickly, mentions good Facebook Photos integration.
X-Ray For Textbooks, lets you find places things appear in a book, pulls up definitions, YouTube videos, Wikipedia entries.
Magazines that are offered (sigh, so my Kindle magazine probably won’t talk with my iPad one with my Nexus 7 one or will they. Sigh.)
Now a new Kindle Fire TV spot airing. Lead in to the prices.
7″ $199. Ships Sept. 14. Larger one? $299. Ships in November.
Now a slam at Apple. ”We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy them. That’s better alignment,” he says. ”We don’t need you to be on the upgrade treadmill.” Happy people still using original Kindles and reading new books on them. “That’s alignment.”
Stresses also why work so much for content to be interoperable, to work on multiple devices. And not fan of razor-razor blade model, where you lost a lot of money on the razor.
There’s also a Kindle Fire 4G LTE for $499:
Had to make own antenna (and it has two of them). 250MB per month, 20GB cloud storage, $10 app credit for $49 per year data plan. Ships November 14 (think he said). Says wants to have “the best tablet at any price.”
And that’s it. Again, we’ll have more formal coverage coming shortly, and Amazon’s beginning to post info in its press area.
Postscript: See our follow-up story, Upgraded Kindle Fire Now $159, New “HD” Tablets Also Aggressively Priced
- The Kindle Fire Is A Kindle-Killer, Not An iPad Killer — That’s Why It Works
- Android Market Becomes “Google Play,” Reflects Google’s Multiplatform Content Aims
- The Google Nexus 7 Tablet: Perfect For When The iPad Is Too Much
- Seven-Inch Tablet Category Heats Up With Nexus 7, Coming Kindle Fire 2 And Rumored iPad Mini
- Yes Virginia, There Will Be An Amazon Kindle Smartphone
- A Blizzard Of Smartphones Announced In Run Up To iPhone 5