Amazon today completely overhauled its entire Kindle e-reader and tablet lineup, introducing the new Kindle Fire HD and Paperwhite and dropping the price of the Kindle and Kindle Fire, among other things.
This is the most aggressive update to the Kindle lineup we’ve seen yet, and it establishes Amazon as a clear leader when it comes to e-readers and a legitimate rival to Apple when it comes to tablets. No product in the Kindle lineup has been untouched, and the top-end version of the Kindle Fire HD competes directly with Apple’s latest iPad — a first for Amazon.
The Kindle Fire HD is the star of the new lineup. It’s similar to last year’s generally successful Kindle Fire reader/tablet hybrid, but it (optionally) bumps the screen size up to 8.9 inches and the resolution to 1,920 by 1,200 pixels. That means it’s almost as sharp to the eye as the new iPad, and the sharpness of the screen is the new iPad’s main selling point. That said, there’s a 7-inch version of the Kindle Fire HD that doesn’t approach that resolution.
The Kindle Fire HD also optionally supports AT&T 4G LTE mobile internet access, which is similar to what the iPad offers.
If you’re more into reading and less into the full multimedia tablet experience, you can pick up the new Kindle Paperweight — the latest take on the almost-like-paper reading experience that the original Kindle is known for. The device gets 8 weeks of battery life and offers a lit screen, kind of like the recent Nook Simple Touch that we wrote about.
Amazon updated the original Kindle Fire with faster hardware and dropped its price to $159, and dropped the price of the original, basic Kindle to just $69.