Amazon has announced that it is to offer its 7-inch and 8.9-inch Android-powered Kindle Fire HD tablets to customers to pre-order in over 170 additional countries, with the tablets shipping June 13.
The biggest online retailer has also expanded its app store to over 200 countries, allowing Kindle Fire owners to choose from tens of thousands of popular Android apps.
The Kindle Fire HD hardware is unchanged from the model currently shipping in the US and certain European countries. The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD comes with a 1920x1200 1080p HD display with in-plane switching, Advanced True Wide polarizing filter. The 254 pixels per inch, Amazon says, are "indistinguishable to the human eye" – in other words, it's a retina display. The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD features a 1280x800 screen resolution.
Both screen sizes feature 10-point multi-touch support.
The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD is powered by the latest generation dual-core 1.5GHz OMAP4 4470 processor with an on-board Imagination SGX544 graphics engine that's capable of over 12 billion floating point operations per second – or 50 percent more than Nvidia's Tegra 3 processor.
The processor in the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD is a dual-core OMAP4 4460 1.2GHz processor.
The Kindle Fire represents a real threat to the Android tablet landscape not because of the Amazon logo, or even the hardware spec, but because of its highly disruptive pricing. The 7-inch variant costs $214, while its 8.9-inch big brother is only $284.
Amazon's goal was to put together a quality Android tablet at an eye-catching price, and it accomplished this with the Kindle Fire HD hardware. Its price is refreshingly accessible when compared to Apple's iPad, and even other Android tablet offerings. The only tablet to come close to the Kindle Fire HD family is Google's own Nexus 7 and 10 tablets.
Despite the Kindle Fire HD being an Android tablet, it's rather different from most Android tablets on the market. As opposed to being a one-stop-shop for Google services, the Kindle Fire HD runs a heavily customized forked version of Android Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0.4) that's been turned into a portal for all things Amazon. Even compared to newer tablets running Android "Jelly Bean," the Kindle Fire HD's custom operating system looks and feels – to me at any rate – like a better tablet OS.
There's no doubt that this expansion in availability of the Kindle Fire HD will give Android a boost, even if it is Amazon's vision of how Android should be.