After making an informal debut in a televised ad late last night, Amazon's larger Kindle Fire has finally been unveiled. Introduced today at a press event in Los Angeles, the new Kindle Fire HD features an 8.9-inch 1920 x 1200, 254ppi display. It includes an HD front-facing camera, HDMI output, Bluetooth connectivity, and a laminated touch sensor for better visuals and 25-percent less glare. Under the hood, Amazon has dropped in a Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 processor, which it says outperforms the Tegra 3. Company representatives confirmed to us that the tablet is also built atop Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich — though they wouldn't specify which precise version.
The Kindle Fire HD also includes stereo speakers, an upgrade over the Kindle Fire's mono driver. While the company is also offering a 4G LTE variation, Amazon has improved Wi-Fi networking by adding a dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz receiver, two antennas, MIMO radio technology. The Wi-Fi-only models will come in 16GB and 32GB variations, while the 4G LTE will be available with 32GB or 64GB of storage.
Along with the Kindle Fire HD, Amazon has made expansions to its Whispersync technology, allowing users to save their progress in games and audiobooks to the cloud. Amazon has added a new and improved email client, which makes use of the larger, high-resolution display. Similarly, Facebook and Skype will be offering their own optimized apps for the new models. The Kindle Fire OS also underwent a series of upgrades, including support for multiple accounts and new parental controls. Now, users with administrative access can dictate how much time can be spent reading, playing games, or watching videos. Another new feature, Immersion Reading, gives Kindle Fire HD-specific e-reader features, such as narration from professionally recorded sources. X-Ray, a books and media viewing companion feature, can be accessed while reading a book or watching a movie or TV episode, providing an array of relevant information in realtime.
The Kindle Fire HD joins Amazon's new suite of Kindle devices, including the new 7-inch Kindle Fire, a smaller 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire HD, and the Kindle Paperwhite. The 16GB 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD will cost $299, while the 32GB model will be priced at $369. For those who'd prefer 4G LTE connectivity, pricing will start at $499 for the 32GB model and $599 for the 64GB model. Service is furnished by AT&T with data plans costing $49.99 per year with a monthly data cap of 250MB, 20GB of cloud storage, and a $10 Appstore credit. Owners will also have the option to upgrade to 3GB and 5GB data plans, though pricing information was not revealed.