Amazon's Kindle Fire HD will give Apple's iPad fits

First, there was Google's Nexus 7, and now there's Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, the Android tablet has come of age and the iPad team should start worrying.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

I love my Nexus 7. It's replaced my Apple iPad for daily use. But, at 7-inch display, people who want a full-sized tablet don't  like it as much as I do. For them, the new Amazon Kindle Fire HD with its 8.9-inch display, 16GBs of storage, and a price of only $299 may just hit their sweet spot

Don't think for a minute that the Kindle Fire HD is just for home-users. True, it's got lots of consumerish features such as FreeTime, so your kids won't spend all day on the tablet; Dolby audio for music and movies; X-Ray for Movies, which will let you get film info from IMDB while you're watching a film; and so on. That's all nice, but it was the business features that caught my eye.

The Kindle Fire HD may be the business tablet you've been looking for.

This new top-of-the-line Kindle comes with Microsoft Exchange support and out of the box can sync e-mail, contacts and calendars with Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo. As I was watching this I couldn't help thinking that is what RIM's Blackberry PlayBook should have been... and wasn't. Maybe the forthcoming 4 LTE PlayBook can be competitive, but the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD have raised the bar.

For its display the Kindle Fire HD has a 1920x1200 screen. It also includes a front-facing HD camera with a customized version of Skype for video-conferencing.

This new model Kindle also includes dual-band 2.4 and 5GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi. Amazon also claims that this is the first tablet to use two antennas. This mean that it can use 802.11n' built-in MIMO (multiple input, multiple outputs) functionality. In practice, Amazon claims that will make the Kindle Fire HD 21 percent faster Wi-Fi than the iPad.. The top-end version of the product also includes 4G LTE support.

For a processor, the new Kindle Fire HD uses a Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 processor. This is a quad-core ARM-based processor. Bezos claims this processor is faster than Nvidia’s Tegra 3.

What we don't know for certain is what Android this new model Kindle tablet will be running. The first Kindle Fire used Android 2.3 Gingerbread with a lot of Amazon special sauce on top. Rumor has it that this version used Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich with, once more, a lot of Amazon modifications to the interface. That sounds reasonable to me.

Looking at the bottom line details, the Kindle Fire HD comes with either 16 or 32GBs of storage. The Fire HD in 8.9" with 32 GB and 4G LTE will sell $499, A similarly equipped iPad 3 will run you $729. There's also a 7-inch Fire HD. The 16GB 7-inch model, at $199, is $50 cheaper than its Nexus 7 rival. The smaller Fire will ship on September 14, the larger models will start moving out to users on November 20th. 

So how can Amazon afford to sell these at this price point? Well as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, “We want to make money when people use our device not when they buy our devices.” The Kindle family is, as Bezos mentioned, built around a service business model rather than a sales model. And, I, for one, while appreciating that this is sure to be a consumer favorite, can also see it being a business favorite as well.

Apple? Google? The ball is now in your court.

Related Stories:

Amazon just put Android tablets on notice with the Kindle Fire product line

Amazon changes the game in tablet market with Kindle Fire HD pricing

Amazon turns heat up in tablet market with 8.9" Kindle Fire HD

Amazon's gadget as a service theme: Hardware becomes irrelevant soon

CNET: Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Nexus 7: A Road Warrior's best friend

Editorial standards