Amazon announced all-new Kindle models Wednesday morning, adding a new family of “HDX” tablets and dropping the price of the Kindle Fire HD to $139.
The firm is continuing to evolve its two-year-old Kindle line to emerge as a top competitor in the tablet world. The latest, the Kindle Fire HDX, boasts a fast processor, gaming-quality graphics engine and up to 11 hours of battery life — indicating that it’s certainly not looking to compete only on price.
The tablet comes in two sizes — either 7 inches or 8.9 inches — and starts at $229 for the smaller model. The larger model costs $379. Both models come with 16 GB of memory; upgrading to 32 GB or 64 GB will cost extra. Also, adding support for 4G networks bumps the price up $100.
The tablet also comes with the option for a a new “Origami” cover that will wake up the tablet when opened, put it to sleep when closed and act as a stand in portrait or landscape orientations. The plastic covers cost $50 or $55, depending on tablet screen size. Leather versions will cost $65 or $70.
With the new tablets, users who subscribe to Amazon’s Prime service will also be able to download and watch some movies and TV shows offline, for free, for up to 30 days. Titles, once watched, can stay on the device for up to 48 hours, according to a report from All Things Digital.
New features in the Kindle’s OS are aimed at making downloads quicker and making it easier for folks to use their Amazon content across devices.
The Kindle Fire HDX also comes with a new feature called “Mayday,” which provides Kindle users one-click access to technical support. According to a commercial for the feature on the company’s Web site, tapping the on-screen button will immediately connect users with a live technician over video chat.
“With the Mayday button, our goal is to revolutionize tech support,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive in a media statement. “With a single tap, an Amazon expert will appear on your Fire HDX and can co-pilot you through any feature by drawing on your screen, walking you through how to do something yourself, or doing it for you—whatever works best.”
The addition of this button could make the Kindle line more attractive to first-time tablet owners, who would be able to sort through some technical problems themselves rather than having to rely on friends or family.
Amazon’s decision to cut the price on the Kindle Fire HD should also appeal to those looking for a low-priced tablet — the new $139 price tag actually makes the tablet less expensive than the firm’s Kindle Paperwhite 3G e-reader.
(Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has agreed to buy The Washington Post newspaper.)
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