Amazon Announces Four New Kindle Fire Tablets

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2012 - 06:24 AM |
Tagged: tablet, kindle fire hd, kindle fire, kindle, amazon

Amazon announced four new Kindle Fire tablets at a live event yesterday. Now that I’ve had time to let it all sink in, it is time to run through and compare the new offerings! Included in the new lineup are two 7” models and two 8.9” models. Further, the tablets with the new internals are differentiated with Kindle Fire HD branding whereas the updated model keeps the traditional Kindle Fire name.

7” Kindle Fire Tablets:

1. Updated Kindle Fire 7"

During the event in Santa Monica, California Amazon announced an update to the existing Kindle Fire and introduced a new “HD” version. The original Kindle Fire (which we reviewed here) packed a dual core 1GHz ARM processor, 512 MB of RAM, and 8 GB of storage. It weighed in at 14.5 ounces and was .45” thick. That hardware cost $199.

The new (updated) 7” Kindle Fire

The updated model keeps the 7” display but has a 1.2GHz OMAP 4430 processor (that Amazon claims is 40% faster), 1GB of RAM, battery life improvements, and in a surprising twist will actually cost less than the original Fire at $159. Software has also been improved for the new Kindle Fire but it is not clear if the first-generation model will also be getting an update. Once reviews start coming out, it should be more apparent what exactly has been changed (Amazon mostly focused on hardware at the event). You can expect it to be a customized version of Android that looks nothing like the stock experience, however. The updated Kindle Fire will be available September 14th for $159.

2. Kindle Fire HD 7"

The Kindle Fire HD is where the hardware starts to get interesting as the specifications have been improvement greatly versus the original $199 Kindle Fire. The new tablet measures 7.6 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches and weighs 13.9 ounces. The front of the tablet features an HD webcam and a 7" display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. Interestingly, the 10 point multitouch panel is laminated onto the display itself, which Amazon claims reduces glare by cutting down on air gaps. Powering the tablet is a OMAP 4460 SoC featuring a dual core processor running at 1.2 GHz, 1 GB of RAM, and 16 GB or 32 GB of internal storage, and stereo speakers. Connectivity options include dual band 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi with two hardware antennas, HDMI, and a Bluetooth radio.

The 7" Kindle Fire HD will be available September 14th. The 16 GB model will cost $199 while the 32 GB model is $249. 

8.9” Kindle Fire HD Tablets:

The 8.9-inch tablet is a new form factor for Amazon, and an interesting one at that. The tablet is sits nicely between the 7" tablets like the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 and larger 10"+ tablets like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and iPad. It remains to be seen whether it will be successful for Amazon, but at only 20 ounces it's still fairly portable. Specific measurements are as follows: 9.45 x 6.5 x 0.35 inches. There is just a single tablet model in the 8.9" form factor, but there are two options based on that. Specifically, you will need to choose between a Wi-Fi only tablet and a tablet that can connect to both Wi-Fi and 4G cellular networks.

The 8.9" Kindle Fire HD features an 8.9" display with resolution of 1920x1200. Further, like the 7" model, the 10 point multitouch panel is laminated onto the display itself to reduce glare. Above the display is an HD webcam. Connectivity options on the base Wi-Fi only model include HDMI, Bluetooth, and dual band (2.4/5GHz) 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with dual antennas. The 4G version further adds a cellular modem. 

Kindle Fire HD 8.jpg

Internally, the Kindle Fire HD is powered by a Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 SoC running at 1.5 GHz and 1GB of RAM. Internal storage is either 16 GB or 32 GB for the Wi-Fi model and 32 GB or 64 GB in the 4G Kindle Fire HD. Any amazon purchased content can be stored on your Amazon Cloud Drive as well.

Both the Wi-Fi and 4G tablets will be available on November 20th, and are available for pre-order now.

The Wi-Fi model will cost $299 for 16 GB or $369 for 32 GB.

The 4G model gets a bit more complicated, thanks to the cellular modem. In basic terms, the 32 GB version will cost $499 and the 64 GB version will cost $599. With purchase, you get a $10 Amazon Appstore credit and 20 GB of Amazon Cloud Drive storage. On the data plan front, for $50 a year, Amazon will provide you with 250 MB per month of data usage over the cellular connection. It's not much, but it is still a pretty good deal if you are around Wi-Fi most of the time and/or plan to only use the Fire to read books and listen to music on. The bad news is that if you do happen to go over that 250 MB limit, you'll be subject to AT&T's going rate for the next tier of data. IE, expect to pay about $30 if you go over (ouch!).

On TWICH, Ryan brought up the Kindle Fire HD and mentioned the big price difference between the 4G and Wi-Fi only model. You are looking at about $250 extra from the 4G model, and the addition of the cellular radio definitely does not cost Amazon that much per tablet to integrate. One likely reason is that Amazon is subsidizing part (or all) of the data plan (the cost above the $50 it is charging customers) with the increased cost of the hardware. (Sort of the opposite of the traditional cell phone subsidizing arrangement where the contract subsidizes the hardware). You will just have to determine if the 4G modem is worth the cost increase or not.

Opt out of ads for $15, information on charging

Speaking of cutting costs, Amazon has done two things to reduce the price of its Kindle Fire tablets. For one, all Kindle Fire tablets will come with Kindle Special Offer ads turned on. These are deals and ads that display on the home screen and lock screen of your Kindle (and in my experience are not very intrusive). If you want an ad-free experience, you can opt out by paying a one-time $15 fee – which essentially amounts to you paying the full cost of the hardware versus the ad-subsidized cost. 

The other cost cutting measure is that the company is not bundling a wall charger with any of the tablets. You can purchase the Kindle PowerFast for Accelerated Charging wall charger for $9.99 if you buy it at the same time as you purchase the tablet, but is $19.99 if purchased separately. Note that a wall charger is not required, as you can charge the Kindle over USB connected to a computer or cell phone charger – it does not necessarily have to be the expensive Amazon charger.

Lastly, all of the Amazon Kindle Fire tablets are running a customized version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Unfortunately, I would not expect an update to Jelly Bean any time soon. The biggest question i have is whether or not the original Kindle Fire will get the same software update as the new tablets are coming out with. It is difficult to comment on any specific improvements as Amazon primarily focused on hardware at the event. Once reviewers get hands on with the tablets, more information should become available. I'm looking forward to trying out the tablets once they show up as demos at retail to see how well the UI runs on the updated hardware.

If you are interested in one of the new Kindle Fire tablets, I highly recommend checking out the handy comparison chart on the bottom of any Kindle Fire product pages as it puts all the specifications in a simple table.

What do you think about the new Amazon tablets, will you be picking one up or sticking with the Nexus 7?

Source: Amazon

IFA: Dell Unveils Two XPS Tablets, One All-In-One System Running Windows RT and Windows 8

Subject: Mobile | August 31, 2012 - 04:00 AM |
Tagged: xps 12 ultrabook, xps 10 tablet, windows rt, windows 8, ultrabook, tablet, ifa, dell, convertible tablet, all-in-one

The IFA 2012 (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) electronics show is in full swing today and will be a week-long event where we should see several new product announcements similar in form to CES and Computex. That means photos, videos, and hands-on time with lots of new and shiny hardware. Earlier this week, ASUS announced two new tablets, and now Dell is jumping into the fray with three new XPS computers running Windows 8!

Dell is set up with displays at this years IFA 2012 conference where it is showing off several new systems running Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT. The company is preparing offerings on all fronts with a tablet, ultrabook, and all-in-one desktop running Microsoft's upcoming operating system: the XPS 10 tablet, XPS Duo 12 Ultrabook, and the XPS One 27 All-In-One (AIO) PC respectively.

The Dell XPS 10 is a new tablet that resembles the Asus Transformer due to its dock-able nature. The tablet will be powered by an ARM processor and will run the accompanying Windows RT version of Windows 8. The 10" tablet has rounded corners along with a glossy black front and silver-colored trim around the bezel. The only physical button on the face of the device is the Windows Start button. It can be docked with a keyboard and trackpad combo to turn the tablet into a portable laptop as well.

IFA - XPS 10.jpg

Alternatively, the XPS Duo 12 steps up the build quality and specifications and packs it into a convertible tablet. While it will need to be tested independently to determine how well it's built, the materials Dell is using are a step up from the XPS 10 as the Duo 12 is constructed using machined aluminum, carbon fiber, and the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. Not too shabby for an ultraportable! Unfortunately, there are no specifications on the internal hardware, but you can expect it to be running an AMD or Intel-based x86-64 CPU as this convertible tablet is running Windows 8. On the outside, Dell has stated that the display will have a resolution of 1920x1080.

XPS Duo 12 convertible Ultrabook with Windows 8.jpg

The company has gone an interesting direction to make the Duo 12 a convertible laptop. Instead of turning the laptop lid around a vertical axis like the Dell Latitude XT (yes, I'm overdue for a laptop upgrade heh), the Duo 12 has a traditional laptop lid and horizontal hinge. Instead of swiveling the entire lid, the Duo 12 only flips around the display itself. It is not a completely new design, but it is relatively rare compared to the much more popular Transformer-style docks. Assuming it's solidly built, I think this design is actually superior than the company's other convertible offerings as the hinge should be much stronger and the display should be less wobbly when typing.

XPS One 27 All-in-One desktop with Windows 8.jpg

The XPS Duo 12 further features an integrated keyboard and trackpad along with at least two USB ports and an SD card reader. The keys do not look like they have much, if any, travel but otherwise it looks like a really neat machine (I'm also biased in favor of convertible tablets though... yeah I'm one of "those" geeks hehe). The biggest question in my mind about this tablet is pricing, however. If Dell prices it in like with the similarly spec'd Surface, I think it would sell fairly well. On the other hand, if they go the opposite route and price it at a couple thousand as a premium convertible tablet, I do not see it doing well against ultrabooks and Microsoft's upcoming Surface.

Finally, Dell showed off an updated version of its 27" All-In-One desktop PC that will come equipped with a touchscreen. As an update to the currently available XPS 27 AIO, the new model will add a touchscreen panel to the 2560x1440 IPS "Wide Quad HD" (whatever that is heh) panel. You can also expect the computer to be powered by third-generation "Ivy Bridge" Core i5 or Core i7 Intel processors, up to 8GB of DDR3 1600MHz RAM, and up to 2TB of hard drive storage along with a 32GB solid state drive. The system will run the x64 version of Windows 8 and you can expect it to cost around (but a bit more than) the current XPS 27 AIO thanks to the addition of the touchscreen input device. For reference, current (non-touchscreen) XPS 27 models range from $1,399.99 to $1,899.99 USD.

I think that Dell is off to a good start with Windows 8 support. Nothing mind-blowing but they still look like interesting additions and updates to the company's product lineup. The biggest factor in me being personally interested in these machines is the price, and unfortunately Dell has not yet released that bit of information. Dell has stated that they will be available once Windows 8 launches, which is October 26th

What do you think of Dell's Windows 8 PC offerings?

Dell has made the full press release available on its website, and you can see more photos of the new Windows 8 XPS computers after the break!

Read more about ARM-powered Windows 8 RT devices on PC Perspective.

Source: Dell

NVIDIA Shows Unreal Engine 3 Running On Windows RT Tablet

Subject: Mobile | August 29, 2012 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: unreal engine, tegra 3, tablet, nvidia, gaming

One of the reasons why I have hope for Windows RT is its gaming potential. Microsoft has been hit-or-miss with its gaming projects, but when it succeeds, it really knocks it out of the park – see DirectX, the Xbox 360 and Microsoft’s digital distribution via its console. Bringing Windows to tablets could make life easier for game developers in that space and offer a wider selection of mature titles rather than mobile-focused games, which often (in my opinion) feel watered down and look underwhelming.  

NVIDIA showcased this potential at IFA 2012 by demonstrating a Windows RT tablet (with Tegra 3 hardware, of course) running Unreal Engine 3. The tablet is shown playing the NVIDIA “Epic Citiadel” demo which we saw at the editor’s day conference used to debut the GTX 680 earlier this year. Quality details are probably reduced compared to the version that ran on the GTX 680 (it’s hard to tell in the video) but it still looks excellent and runs smoothly.

 


 

The demonstration highlighted the fact this isn’t some one-off or stripped-down version of the engine designed only for mobile devices. It’s a port of the existing Unreal Engine 3 engine used to make Windows PC games, which means developers shipping games that use UE3 should have minimal trouble porting their game to a Windows 8 RT tablet. Mark Rein, president of Epic Games, stated that Windows 8 RT code is now available to UE3 licenesees. It’ll be interesting to see which game developer is first to jump on board.

The tablet in the video is an ASUS Vivo Tab RT, an upcoming Windows 8 RT tablet with an 11.6” IPS display with 1366x768 resolution and a Tegra 3 SoC.  A tablet like this could be a compelling mobile gaming device if the games become available. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Source: NVIDIA

HP isn't out of the tablet business yet

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2012 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: hp, tablet, webOS

According to what The Register has heard HP and webOS are headed back into the tablet business.  After HP relinquished their hold on webOS and made it open source, as well as the PSG stop developing the TouchPad, it was thought that HP was done with tablets.  A new branch of HP has been recently created, bearing the name Mobility Global Business Unit, which has spawned numerous questions about their plans.  Will they design an ARM based tablet or look to another supplier?  Will they use webOS or perhaps MeeGO as the operating system, which will run on ARM?  So far we have more questions than answers so hopefully HP will publish an official announcement some time in the near future.

hp-slate.jpg

"If you thought HP's decision to spin off its webOS division into a new subsidiary signaled the end of its adventures in the mobile market, think again. According to reports, the PC maker is reshuffling its Personal Systems Group to launch a new business unit aimed at getting HP back in the tablet race."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Barnes & Noble Nook eBook Readers (Tablet, Color) Receive Price Cuts

Subject: Mobile | August 13, 2012 - 03:44 AM |
Tagged: tablet, price cuts, nook tablet, nook

The Nook Tablet is bookseller Barnes & Noble’s answer to the Amazon and Kindle Fire combination. Running a 1GHz TI OMAP 4 dual core processor and 1GB of system RAM, it doubled up on the hardware specifications of the Amazon Kindle Fire competition. The Nook tablet further sports a 1024x600 resolution IPS display. With that said,  it is rather dated compared to the newly announced Nexus 7 tablet from Google (it has been around since November). The Nexus 7 is packing a NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, 1GB of RAM, and a 1280x800 IPS display.

As a result, the 7” tablet space is heating up, and with that come price cuts. According to Maximum PC, the entire family of Nook devices will be getting price cuts. The Nook Color–previously sold for $169–is now listed for $149. Also, the 8GB and 16GB versions of the Nook Tablet have reduced prices of 10% and 20% respectively. This results in an 8GB Nook Tablet for $179 and a 16GB Nook Tablet for $199. The 16GB Nook Tablet is now up against the 8GB Nexus 7, whereas it was previously priced against the 16GB Nexus 7 at $249. Essentially you get twice the flash storage at the same price (16GB Nook, 8GB Nexus 7), but getting that user storage will cost you time (as you need to repartition the internal storage on the Nook Tablet) and the internal hardware is not as fast.

Nook Family Price Cuts:

  Old Price New Price
Nook Color $169 $149
Nook Tablet 8GB $199 $179
Nook Tablet 16GB $249 $199

 

Still, the price cuts are a positive thing, and if you just want an eReader for reading and organizing your digital B&N library, you can now get one for a bit less money. On the other hand, if you are not already heavily invested in the Barnes & Noble ecosystem, the competition in the 7” tablet space is really heating up. The Nexus 7 has received positive reviews from reviewers, and it brings decent hardware at an attractive price point. Further, with rumors of an updated Kindle tablet, Barnes & Noble has to do something to keep ahead of customers considering the competition before they are hooked on the B&N ecosystem (heh).

Nook Tablet.JPG

As a result, it seems the company has chosen to give its current Nook Tablet lineup some price cuts to try and stay relevant. This is mostly speculation of course, but it does seem to be a reasonable explanation for the price cuts.

What do you think of the Nook Tablet price cuts, is it enough to keep Barnes & Noble in the 7” tablet game?

Source: Maximum PC

Lenovo Planning Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 RT Tablets

Subject: Mobile | August 12, 2012 - 11:25 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, Thinkpad, tegra 3, tablet, slate, Lenovo

Earlier this year Microsoft unveils its plans for Windows 8 and its self-designed Surface tablets. Most machines will come with the full version of Windows 8, but some OEMs will be shipping ARM-powered mobile devices with the stripped-down Windows RT version. Microsoft is further delving into the hardware game by designing its own hardware with the Surface tablet and accessories. It will come in two versions, one with an ARM processor and Windows RT and another with an Intel Core i5 processor and Windows 8 Pro.

thinkpad-tablet-2-press5_1020_gallery_post.jpg

According to several leaks around the web throughout the week, Lenovo is taking the Surface to heart and planning its own two-pronged approach. The Lenovo ThinkPad 2 will be running Windows Pro with an x86-64 processor while the Windows RT version will be packing an NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC.

Unfortunately, there are essentially no other specifics to the rumor other than sources for the Wall Street Journal confirming its existence and that it will be of the convertible tablet form factor.

DSC_7526-hero_gallery_post.jpg

The Verge got hands-on with the ThinkPad 2 tablet. A keyboard, touchscreen, stylus, and pointing stick... input options abound!

On the other hand, there is a lot more meat to the ThinkPad 2 rumors, and it looks like a nice lightweight mobile workhorse. Allegedly the ThinkPad 2 is being developed as a “joint effort” with Intel and Microsoft. It weighs in at 1.3 pounds, is 9.8mm thick, and holds a 10.1-inch 1366x768 display. Running a full version of Windows 8, the ThinkPad 2 tablet is powered by an Intel Atom processor. Other features include an 8 megapixel and 2 megapixel camera on the back and front respectively as well as micro-HDMI port, fingerprint reader, and stylus. NFC and Wi-Fi are also very likely to be included, and a 3G/4G cellular radio will be an optional add-on. A separate keyboard accessory will allow users to dock the tablet and have access to a full keyboard with pointing stick. Alternatively, there is a dock attachment that adds an HDMI output, Ethernet jack, and three USB ports.

With the release of Windows 8 on October 26 official, it is likely that the two Lenovo ThinkPad tablets will be launched on–or shortly after–that date (the RT version might be delayed more so than the x86 tablet if I had to guess). No word yet on pricing, but here’s hoping that the prices are competitive with the Surface counterparts. 

It is not promising to see Lenovo going with Atom of all things for the x86-64 version, but that may just mean it will be one of the lower-cost tablets able to run the full version of Windows 8. As a fan of ThinkPads and styluses (styli?), I shall try to remain open minded until reviews come out with some benchmarks showing off the performance–or lack thereof (but remember, trying to stay positive here heh).

You can find more photos of the Intel Atom-powered ThinkPad 2 tablet over at The Verge.

Source: The Verge

More on Google's $200 Jellybean

Subject: Mobile | August 1, 2012 - 02:25 PM |
Tagged: google, nexus 7, andriod, jellybean, tablet, tegra 3

By now you may be familiar with the Tegra 3 powered, 1280x800 IPS display Nexus 7, but if you've been away then The Tech Report can fill you in on what you have missed.  At 7.8" x 4.7" the resolution is a respectable 216 pixels per inch as well as being of a nice size for both portability and usability.  The mini USB port can come in handy in several ways but the one thing it cannot do is offer you external storage for your Nexus 7 which is a bit of a pain considering there is a $50 premium on the 16GB model over the 8GB base.  There are some flaws but considering that at $200 it is significantly less expensive than its competitors, there is a lot of good things to say about Google's new tablet.

TR_money.jpg

"For just $199, Google's Nexus 7 tablet serves up a 1280x800 display, a Tegra 3 SoC, and the very latest version of Android. We take a closer look at the budget wonder and break out our high-speed camera to capture Jelly Bean's responsiveness improvements in action."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction, Design and Connectivity

 

nexus1.png
 
All of my past tablet reviews have come to a similar conclusion – buy the iPad. Unless you have a particular, specific use for your tablet which Apple’s walled garden does not support there is little reason to go with anything else. The problem is a combination of both hardware and software. Cupertino’s closed approach, which develops both in-house, has provided better products so far.
 
If you can’t beat them, you can always sell to a somewhat different market. And so we have the Google Nexus 7. There are three things about this tablet that has made many geeks very interested – it has a Tegra 3 processor, it runs Android 4.1 and it starts at $200 for the 8GB version.
 
This is, in fact, the production version of the $249 Tegra 3 tablet that we all ooo-ed and ahh-ed over during CES 2012. Google hasn’t paid much lip-service to ASUS, but the company’s logo is on the back of the tablet. I have no complaints about this partnership. ASUS has made the best Android tablets for some time, so going with them is an obvious choice.
 

Asus Announced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Updates to Tablet Lineup

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 20, 2012 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: transformer prime, transformer pad, transformer infinity, tablet, asus

ASUS recently announced that they will be bringing the latest version of Google's Android operating system – Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" to its line of Transformer tablets. Among the tablets to receive the update are the ASUS Transformer Pad, ASUS Transformer Pad Prime, and ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity. They will be getting the updates within the next couple of months, and more specific release dates will be announced closer to launch, according to the company.

The Transformer Prime tablet with keyboard dock

ASUS further stated that they are continuing to evaluate the feasibility of upgrading other devices to Jelly Bean, but there is nothing official in regards to devices that will for sure get it beyond the tablets listed above.

In an email, Senior Technical marketing Manager Gary Key stated the following:

"At ASUS, one of the key commitments we make to our customers is a relentless drive to deliver the best user experience. We constantly strive to achieve this goal through our ‘Design Thinking’ philosophy that includes regular software and firmware updates for our products."

While I don't have a Transformer tablet myself, It's great to see that they are continuing to support their devices, unlike a certain smartphone manufacturer (heh, yeah I'm still jaded over my Infuse 4G's update situation). If you have a ASUS tablet, be on the lookout (or follow PC Per!) for the Jelly Bean updates as it has some really neat new features.

For now though, you will have to settle for watching Ryan ogle over his Nexus 7 on this week's podcast :).

Source: ASUS

Nexus 7 Teardown Reveals Easy User Serviceability

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2012 - 10:22 AM |
Tagged: tablet, nexus 7, jelly bean, google io, google, Android

The Nexus 7 is not even shipping yet, and it has already been torn apart to see what it is made of. The folks over at the ifixit website have managed to get their hands on the newly-announced 7" tablet. After breaking open the outer case and dismantling it far past what I would be comfortable doing to my own tablet, they found that it is relatively easy to take apart and repair. The tablet is a single millimeter thicker than the iPad, but that extra bit of space allowed Google and ASUS to use retaining clips to hold the back and front outer panels together instead of the glue used in the iPad. Using glue made for a slightly thinner tablet but it is much harder to take apart and put back together correctly, as Will and Norm of Tested discovered.

Nexus7battery.jpg

From the ifixit teardown. The battery is easily replaceable.

Inside the tablet is a large batter, “L” shaped motherboard, front facing camera, two speaker drivers, microphone, and display. The battery looks to be very easy to replace as it is not soldered onto any other hardware and is only secured by a bit of glue. Unfortunately, the display is another story. It is reportedly fused to the Gorilla Glass covering, which means that if the screen cracks – even the display itself is not damaged (only the Gorilla Glass) – users will have to replace the entire screen assembly. There is a small bit of recompense in that the tablet does not utilize any proprietary or security screws, it uses Philips #00 throughout.

For more details on the exact hardware chips used, and to see the new 7” tablet taken apart to see what makes it tick (or not, rather) head on over to the iFixIt tear down guide.

Other tablet news:

Source: ifixit