Amazon intros new quad-core Kindle Fire HDX tablets, 7-inch Kindle Fire HD and Fire OS 3.0

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: September 24, 2013

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch, 8.9-inch

Following months of rumblings that new Kindle Fire tablets may be on the way, Amazon officially let loose tonight by introducing three new devices and some new software to go along with them.

First up, the 7-inch and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX tablets are the follow-ups to 2012's Kindle Fire HDs. The 7-inch model's screen features a resolution of 1920x1200, while the 8.9-inch version steps things up to 2560x1600, and both units come loaded with 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processors and 2GB of RAM. The two slates also feature front-facing cameras, but consumers that'd like a shooter for something other than selfies will need to turn to the 8.9-inch HDX and its rear-facing 8-megapixel camera.

Another feature shared by Amazon's new Kindle Fire HDX tablets is the Mayday button. Residing in the Quick Settings menu of the HDX slates, the Mayday button can be used to call upon a live Amazon technical support rep that can guide a user by drawing on the device's screen, showing the user how to perform the task or simply performing the function him or herself. Amazon says that the Mayday button can be used 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and that the company aims to have a response time of 15 seconds or less.

Amazon says that the 7.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX will be available for pre-order starting today and that units will begin shipping on Oct. 18. Pricing for the "with Special Offers" models that display ads on the device's lock screen will be set at $229 for the 16GB model, $269 for 32GB and $309 for 64GB. Models with built-in AT&T or Verizon 4G are also available for a $100 premium over the Wi-Fi-only variants. Customers that'd prefer to avoid the Special Offers can pay an extra $15 to do so.

The 8.9-inch HDX is also available for pre-order starting today ahead of its Nov. 7 launch. Prices start at $379 for the "with Special Offers" 16GB model and go up to $429 for the 32GB model and $479 for the most capacious 64GB mode. As with the 7-incher, the 8.9-inch HDX will be available in 4G-enabled variants for an extra $100 each.

Amazon has also taken the wraps off of a new entry-level Kindle Fire HD model. This slate features a 7-inch 1280x800 display and 8GB storage for $139 or 16GB for $169. Set to launch on Oct. 2, the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and also includes dual speakers.

Customers that pick up a new Kindle Fire HD or Kindle Fire HDX can also snag one of Amazon's new Origami covers to help protect their new toy. In addition to providing some extra protection, the Origami covers can prop the Kindle Fire tablets up in both portrait and landscape modes and can also redirect sound from the device toward a user. The Origami covers are available in black, blue or red and are priced at $59.99 for the Kindle Fire HD version, $64.99 for the 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX's cover and $69.99 for the 8.9-inch HDX cover.

Rounding out today's announcements is the new OS that's powering Amazon's three tablets. Dubbed Fire OS 3.0 "Mojito," the software includes the aforementioned Mayday button as well as X-Ray for Music, Amazon Device Messaging for communicating to other Kindle Fire owners, enhanced email support, better touch responsiveness and in-app purchasing. Fire OS 3.0 also includes native Android app compatibility, meaning that regular Android apps can run in the Fire OS with minimal effort. Support for HTML5 apps is included in Fire OS 3.0 as well.

So there's Amazon's new stable of hardware and software offerings. With their high-res displays and Snapdragon 800 processors, the Kindle Fire HDXs look like respectable additions to the Android tablet market, and the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD is pretty interesting on its own thanks to its wallet-friendly $139 base price.

On the software front, Fire OS 3.0 sounds much-improved over previous versions of the Kindle Fire software. The Mayday button is especially notable not only because it will provide around-the-clock live support, but also because that support is expected to arrive within 15 seconds of a user's call. What do you think of Amazon's new products? Are you planning on pre-ordering any of the refreshed Kindle Fires?

Via Amazon (1), (2), (3)