Amazon’s New Tablets and E-Readers: Everything You Need to Know

Dann Albright 27-09-2014

There was a time when it was easy to choose a Kindle; you’d pick the 3G or WiFi version, and that was that.


But after the release of the Touch, a few versions of the Fire tablet, the Fire HDX series Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Review and Giveaway Is the Kindle Fire HDX worth owning if you haven't owned a Kindle before? To find out, we purchased a 16 GB Kindle Fire HDX 7" (Wi-Fi) without special offers for $244, and we're giving... Read More , the Paperwhite Kindle Paperwhite Review & Giveaway The Kindle Paperwhite is Amazon's current flagship reader, and one that we've been wanting to review and give away for quite some time. If you already own a Kindle or a different eReader, you may... Read More , and the new Voyage, choosing the right Amazon tablet or eReader can be tough. To make it simpler, we’re going to look at the new entries in the lineup and break down the differences. (But first, you should decide if you want an eReader or a tablet What's the Difference Between E-Readers and Tablets? E-readers and tablets are not the same thing. Here's what you need to know about their differences. Read More .)

Kindle Fire HD 6 and Kindle Fire HD 7


One of the most interesting new releases in Amazon’s lineup is the Kindle Fire HD 6, a 6″ Android tablet that starts at $99, making it one of the most competitively priced tablets out there. Although a 6″ tablet is pretty small (it’s not that much bigger than the 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus Should You Buy The Bigger iPhone 6 Plus? The term "phablet" very much applies to Apple's recently announced iPhone 6 Plus, but there's more to it than just a bigger screen. Read More ), it does have a nice screen at 1280 x 800 (252 ppi). It’s likely that many consumers looking to get their first tablet or those who highly value portability will appreciate the size.

The Kindle Fire HD 7 ($139 and up) is a more direct replacement for the previous generation of Kindle Fires and sticks with the slightly more productivity-friendly 7″ size, retaining the 1280 x 800 (216 ppi) resolution. Both tablets come in 8GB and 16GB versions, which is nice, as 8GB doesn’t last very long How To Make the Most of Your Kindle Fire's 8GB Storage I almost ran out of space on my Kindle Fire last week. Sadly, I was away from my computer, which meant I couldn’t simply move data off the device – I would have to delete... Read More .

On the inside of these tablets, Amazon has made some notable improvements. The new 1.5 GHz quad-core processor is up to twice as fast as the previous generation of Fire tablets, has three times the graphics processing power, and can handle “even the most graphically intense games.” The tablets both pack front- and rear-facing cameras, and you now have unlimited space on Amazon Cloud Drive for storing photos taken on Kindle Fire devices. The only place where the two tablets differ, besides the screen size, is in audio output; the HD 6 has a mono speaker, and the HD 7 packs dual stereo speakers.



While the software that comes on the HD 6 and 7 is relatively similar to previous versions, there are some notable updates. The Fire now supports profiles, so everyone in the family can use the tablet without getting their settings and app logins mixed up — and parents can put parental controls in place for each different profile, ensuring that kids only access what they’re supposed to, even if they have older siblings.

Amazon’s FreeTime subscription service means you can get tons of books, games, apps, TV shows, and movies for your kids with just a small monthly fee, and the forthcoming Family Library function means you can share purchases across Amazon accounts (meaning fewer issues with Amazon’s Kindle DRM How To Break The DRM On Kindle eBooks So You Can Enjoy Them Anywhere When you pay Amazon some money for a Kindle eBook, you probably think it’s yours now. I mean, you paid some money, you got some content, and now you have it, just like any other... Read More ). Between these two features, it’ll be almost impossible to run out of things to stock your Fire HD with.

On the productivity side, the Fire HDs now have the ability to create and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, which are automatically backed up to Cloud Drive.


Kindle Fire HD Kids’ Edition


At first glance, the Fire HD Kids’ Edition, which comes in both 6″ and 7″ versions and 8GB of storage, looks like an interesting addition to Amazon’s lineup. The 6″ and 7″ version are identical to the Fire HD 6 and Fire HD 7, but they cost $149 and $189 respectively. For the extra cash, you get a kid-proof case, a one-year subscription to FreeTime, and a two-year, no-questions-asked guarantee that Amazon will replace the tablet if your kids break it.

The Kids’ Edition Kindle Fire might not set itself apart with different specs or software, but the kid-friendly features might make it a worthwhile purchase for parents who want to get their kids started on tech early.

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9



The new Fire HDX 8.9 is aimed less at families, and more at the work/play crowd. With a 2.5 GHz quad-core processor and 2560 x 1990 pixels (339 ppi, 30% more pixels than the iPad Air Retina screen), you’ll get an ultra-crisp image that’s great for watching movies and playing games. Like the Kindle Fire HDX, which remains unchanged, it’s available with 16, 32, or 64GB of storage, and in WiFi and 4G LTE options. The HDX 8.9 packs an 8 MP rear camera in addition to a front-facing one.

Some of the hardware improvements over the Fire HD models include dual-band WiFi for faster connections, a larger battery, a more advanced audio system (advertised as “twice as loud as the iPad Air”), and the Mayday button, one of the most interesting customer service tools that I’ve seen in quite a while. With a single button press, you’re connected with an Amazon customer service agent who can draw on your screen, walk you through a task you’re having trouble with, or just do something for you. It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Amazon’s stated response time goal is an impressive 15 seconds.

It’s clear that Amazon is taking aim at Apple with this tablet, and that they’re no longer pitching the Kindle Fire as an eReader “plus.” It’s a full-fledged tablet, great for games, working, and consuming media. And the $379 price tag reflects that.




Amazon revamped their base-model Kindle, and it’ll look really familiar if you’ve owned a Kindle Touch Why You Should Buy a Kindle (Even If You Love Real Books) Here are several reasons why you should buy a Kindle, even if you love "real" printed books. Read More . They’ve done away with the page-turning, keyboard, and navigation buttons in favor of a touchscreen and a smaller profile. A faster processor makes for faster page turns, and the internal storage has been doubled, so you can store even more of your favorite books.

Software-wise, the Kindle now includes Goodreads integration Goodreads Reviewed: A Must-Use Site For Any Book Lover If you enjoy reading, and like to use the Internet for finding great new reads, you may well have heard of Goodreads before: This is a superb website hosting a vibrant community of book lovers,... Read More , FreeTime, and a vocabulary builder. It’ll also include Word Wise, a quick-definition function, in the near future. And the new Family Library function will also be arriving soon. It’s still a great deal at $79.

Kindle Voyage


The new base-model Kindle isn’t a huge step up, but the Kindle Voyage takes Amazon’s eReader collection in a new direction. At $199, it costs twice as much as the cheapest Fire tablet, but it comes packed with some cool features. The screen resolution has been increased to 330 ppi, making it even more like reading a book. The adaptive front light shines directly on the page and makes it easy to read, no matter what sort of lighting you’re in. And at 7.6mm, this eReader is really, really thin. The flush-front bezel, magnesium back panel, and glass front all come together to make this a gorgeous eReader.

The part of the Kindle Voyage that I’m most excited about, however, is the PagePress technology, a pressure-sensitive page-turning button on either side of the screen. You can keep your thumb on the button, and the pressure sensor won’t turn the page until you apply pressure with your thumb. It also provides haptic feedback when the page turns. No more moving your thumb to the screen to turn the page every few seconds.

Which Is Right for You?

With all of these new options, it can be tough to decide which Kindle tablet or eReader is best for you. Fortunately, with a wide range of price points and feature sets, there’s almost certainly a Kindle product that will meet your needs. If you’re looking for an eReader, it’ll come down to what you’re willing to pay. If you’re going to spend a lot of time reading, $199 for the top-of-the-line Kindle Voyage might be worth it. If you’re not ready to spend that much, the $119 Paperwhite will provide a high-quality reading experience without PagePress or adaptive lighting. And the $79 Kindle is still a great deal.

Choosing a Fire tablet is a bit more difficult, as there are so many options. The Kids’ Edition is great for sharing your tablet with children and not worrying about breaking or replacing it. On the other end of the spectrum, the Fire HDX 8.9 is a fantastic high-end tablet, on par with other tablets from more venerable manufacturers, and that’s reflected in the price tag. But if you want to do some serious gaming, document editing, photo and video collecting, or movie-watching, $379 might not sound so bad.

In the middle of the Fire lineup, there’s the HD 6, the HD 7, and the 7″ HDX. In my opinion, the only reason to go with a 7″ HDX over the HD 7 is if you want a better screen for watching movies or if you need 4G connectivity. The lack of a rear-facing camera is a big count against the 7″ HDX when the rest of the lineup has one. Choosing between the 6 and 7 really comes down to portability; the 6″ model will fit in a purse pocket or the side of a backpack without much trouble, but the 7″ is getting closer to traditional tablet size.

What do you think of the new Kindle lineup? Is there anything here that you’re really excited about? Will you be purchasing any of these in the near future? Share your thoughts below!

Related topics: Amazon Kindle, Amazon Kindle Fire.

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  1. Karen Roth
    November 3, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Good grief, yes, they're appreciated! Especially by those of us who love tech but are woefully unskilled in the deployment of it. :) In this particular case a friend of mine bought the new Fire because it has options useful to people with deteriorating sight, and she's having the devil of a time getting it all set up. I told her the first place I go for guidance is always makeuseof. So a blanket thank-you for all the manuals!

    • Dann Albright
      November 5, 2014 at 6:55 am

      Thanks so much for your wonderful comments—we really appreciate them! :-) It's great to hear that you come here for guidance.

  2. Karen Roth
    October 31, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Any chance of a makeuseof manual for the new Fire models anytime soon? (I searched and couldn't find one on your site; hope this isn't just user error.)

    • Dann Albright
      November 1, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      As far as I know, there isn't anything in the works, but I'll pass it along that there's interest, and if it sounds like someone's planning on writing one, I'll let you know! Really glad to know that our manuals are appreciated.

  3. likefunbutnot
    September 27, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    The Fire HDX 8.9 is at LEAST in the top 3 as far as best tablet devices available right now. It's unbelievably thin and light, and its screen is a strong contender for being the best that money can buy, even a field that includes Samsung, Microsoft and the iFruits. I'm not a huge fan of FireOS, but even an un-rooted Kindle HDX can install most of the licensed Google applications with a little trick.

    The current iteration of FireOS is much better than the first generation that shipped with the basic Kindle Fire, but it's specifically missing some user customization options like the ability to use Widgets and customize lock screens. I don't really miss those things and I place a higher value on having a 8.9" tablet with a weight comparable to many 7" devices and a screen with premium 10"-class dpi, but if you're used to having high levels of customization, it's definitely a problem. That being said, FireOS also nicely solves problems with Android being so custimizable that nothing can be considered uniform and it comes with a live human being support option called Mayday that's really handy for the technically inept.

    The Fire also has some stronger options than I've seen on other devices for giving the device to larval humans. Parents can white-list apps or choose them from an Amazon-curated list of offerings. Purchasing can be completely disabled and going in and out of Kid-Mode is completely straightforward. Kid mode seems much less an afterthought than I've seen on other Android devices.

    In a perfect world, I wish that I could get one with a card reader. I miss having separate user logins and sometimes it's a little lame to find that a game from the Humble Store wants to use in-app Purchasing from the Play Store that the Fire HDX won't support (that's the thing that finally got me to root mine), but at the end of the day the Fire HDX is a fully functional Android tablet with lust-worthy hardware in a near-perfect form factor. As somebody who owns a dozen tablets, the Fire HDX 8.9 is by far my #1 choice and go-to recommendation for most purposes.

    • Dann A
      September 30, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks for the great comments! It's good to know that, having tried a number of tablets, you'd rate the HDX very high. Yes, it would be great to have a card reader . . . alas, maybe next time!

      Thanks for reading!