As the e-commerce leader, Amazon peddles other companies’ products. But by now, of course, Amazon is also fully entrenched selling its own stuff. More evidence of this comes now with the announcement of several new Amazon tablets and e-readers.
It may surprise some people that even into the seventh generation of the Kindle e-reader line, Amazon is still innovating. The new 6-inch Kindle Voyage is Amazon’s slimmest Kindle yet, and it boasts the next version of the company’s Paperwhite display technology, with super-crisp (300 pixels-per-inch) text, and images that look sharp as well. As before there’s a front light that enables you to read in the dark.
In a brief hands-on demo, page-turns were swift. And as with previous models, you can tap the display to accomplish doing just that.
But there’s now an alternative page-turning method that relies on a sensor that sits beneath the bezel. Pages turn when you gently squeeze the bezel (on either edge).
One other new feature is likely to appeal to people learning English as a second language, or perhaps your kids who are just learning to read. It’s called Word Wise. Simple short definitions of challenging words appear in the e-book you are reading, just above those difficult words. For example, in tiny type just above the word “veteran” is the simple explanation “one with a lot of experience.”
You can drag a slider at the bottom of the display to adjust just how many of these word “hints” appear in a book, based on your reading level. You can also make them go away altogether.
You’ll still have the ability to tap on a word for a fuller dictionary-type definition or to see definitions in different contexts. Amazon didn’t say how many book titles will provide this Word Wise feature at launch.
At $199, Kindle Voyage doesn’t come cheap.
For those folks who want a multipurpose device, Amazon unleashed new budget tablets, including a 6-inch Fire HD tablet for just $99, and a 7-inch model for $139. Despite the low price, these smallish slates feature quad-core processors, high-definition displays, plus front and rear cameras.
This Fire HD tablet is also the base model for a new kid’s package called, appropriately enough, the Fire HD Kids Edition. The 6-inch kid’s model costs $149; the 7-inch, $189.
What turns it into a tablet for your kids? For starters, the Fire for your youngster comes with a protective colorful case that Amazon otherwise separately sells as an accessory. Moreover, if the tablet breaks for any reason — kids being kids, this may be inevitable — Amazon will replace it free for the first two years you own it, no questions asked.
Parents can also set time limits and manage the content their kids can read or watch. And the tablets come with a free year of Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited subscription service, which includes more than 5,000 kid-appropriate books, movies, TV episodes, educational apps and games at no extra cost. For more information visit, Interllectual.
At the high end, Amazon showed off the latest version of its Fire HDX. The solidly built tablet costs $379 and boasts a vivid 8.9-inch high-definition display. Amazon claims audio on the new HDX is twice as loud as the iPad Air. It also features technology called Dolby Atmos, which when you don a pair of headphones, adds cinematic-like surround-type audio effects, a plane flying over your head, for example.
The latest HDX runs the new Fire OS 4 “Sangria” operating system, which, among other features, adds the Firefly scanner technology Amazon introduced on its Fire smartphone. New to Firefly is the ability to translate foreign language text into English.
The HDX also includes the Mayday button, which lets you summon instant live round-the-clock video tech support.
Amazon is taking preorders on the new products. They ship next month.