The original is now $160. That's absurd. But the real news is the new HD model—and its big brother.
The Fire HD is a little sleeker and a little rounder—a nice change from the overly boxy first Kindle Fire. The large version of the HD has an 8.9-inch screen, to go along with the 7-incher.
It's Kindle Fire HD 7-inch is $200 and ships September 14. The large one is $300 and ships November 20. Oh, and the coup d'etat? The Kindle Fire HD 4G, with LTE and 32GB storage for $500. And the data plan for the LTE is just $50 a year. That. Is. Insane. InsaneInsaneInsane. It also ships November 20th.
It's also got two antennas for Wi-Fi, which smartly selects the one with a stronger signal, and less fading. It's the same fix as the iPhone's death grip. The Kindle HD will also have MIMO, which uses computational brute force to take all the signal echo and make it into something usable. That adds up to Wi-Fi that should be way faster than the competition. 41 percent faster than the iPad and 54 percent faster than the Nexus 7, according to Amazon.
The HD starts at 16GB of local storage, up from the 8GB of the original.
It also has two speakers, one at the top and bottom of the device in portrait mode, so you'll never just have sound coming from one side no matter how you turn it, unlike most tablets.
It has an OMAP4470 processor, which according to Amazon's benchmarks, drastically outperforms the Tegra 3.
And here's a kind of killer feature: Whispersync for Voice. It's Whispersync—the way that Amazon syncs all your books across all your gadgets—that now syncs your words-book with your audiobook. It sounds really cool. You can also sync up your progression in games.
That expanded Whispersync functionality combines with another feature called Immersion Reading. You can listen to the narration of your book while you read it.
For games, there are new features where you can buy characters or items in a game and also get a physical toy from Amazon—from the same purchase. It highlights 1. the coolness of the unique unified ecosystem that Amazon offers and 2. exactly how Amazon is going to use the Fire to sell you more stuff.
Amazon is really proud of that, actually. It says it's trying to "get you off the upgrade treadmill." Because of the low price points, it only really makes money when you use the device. That means it has to be good enough for you to want to use it and buy things on it. Smart, actually.
And holy holy holy crap. There's now X-Ray for movies. That means you can look up whoever is on screen at any given moment, without having to know his or her name. We don't have much information on it just yet, but Amazon is obsessive about its metadata, so you can bet it involves meticulous cataloging.
The Fire HD has a sharp screen with 25 percent less glare. It can do that because it has no air gap between the laminated touch sensor and the screen.
There will also be custom apps for Facebook and Skype, and an all new Email application that works with Exchange—apparently pretty well.
There's also a new feature called Kindle Free Time, which lets parents limit the time kids spend on the Fire. There are time limits for each kind of content—books, movies, games, etc—and it has multiple profiles for multiple kids. Newjack version of "GO READ A BOOK," I guess.
It's also got a camera, which is new from the first Kindle Fire.
Jeff Bezos also referred to the Fire as a service. It's not the product for Amazon—it's the thing that makes all of the other products better and easier to use. "Hardware device as a service—that's what people want."