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With Kindle Fire HD, Amazon Takes Strong Position in Tablet War

This morning’s announcement of Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HD proved that the online retailer will be in the tablet war for the long haul, introducing several new entries to the Kindle family at multiple price points.

The Kindle Fire HD will replace the original Kindle Fire at the $199 price point, and is being billed as “the world’s most-advanced 7” tablet.” A larger 8.9” model of the Fire HD will also be offered, starting at $299. This larger model approaches Apple’s 9.7” iPad, the current standard on the tablet market. Finally, Amazon announced a foray into the world of 4G LTE service, with an 8.9” version of the Kindle Fire that utilizes the wireless technology being offered at $499.

The announcement of the Fire HD comes less than a year after the release of the original Kindle Fire last November. That tablet gained popularity with its low $199 price point for those looking for a cheaper entry into the tablet market. Comparatively, Apple’s cheapest iPad model retails at $499. According to Amazon, the device was able to lock up around 22% of all tablet sales with its value-first design. In terms of specs however, the Kindle was decidedly worse than many of its competitors. With this new revision Amazon has bolstered the device’s technological strength, making it comparable to Apple’s products while remaining at least $200 cheaper at all price points.

Amazon has promised the fastest Wi-Fi functionality of any tablet, claiming speeds 40 percent faster than any other device. The 7” model of the Kindle Fire HD is said to have a battery life of 11 hours, and each model will house at least 16 GB of built-in storage, with 32GB versions available, and a 64GB version of the 4G LTE model. To compare, the 32GB model of the Wi-Fi only iPad is priced at $599, while the 32GB model of the Fire HD is just $369.

Perhaps the biggest news for any of Amazon’s new models is the option for a unique data plan offered directly from Amazon. The plan would cost just $50 a year for 250MB of data each month, along with 20GB of cloud storage. Customers can pay that much in a single month financing their tablet via a cellular data network. The value of that plan could motivate more customers to look to the Fire HD for 4G service, rather than pay hundreds of dollars a year for a separate plan while using Apple’s iPad.

“The Amazon Kindle Fire HD, in the short term, eliminates all competition outside of Apple,” Bovitz research manager Randy Hellman told Wired Magazine. “Amazon is trying to position it as an iPad equivalent for a better value.”

The original Kindle Fire will not be discontinued just yet, seeing a remodel with a faster processor, 8GB of internal memory, and an improved battery. That tablet will be offered at $159. Amazon’s new lineup of Kindle Fire devices will be made available on September 14.

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