Amazon updates tablets and e-reader

Online bookstore Amazon is stepping up its efforts in the hardware market by launching a suite of Kindle Fire tablets and a new e-reader.

The firm revealed four new versions of the Kindle Fire tablet including three Kindle Fire HD versions in two format sizes: 7-in for $199 and 8.9-in for $299 ($499 with LTE). In addition it launched an updated non-HD version of the tablet.

“The new tablets have received substantial improvements in screen resolution and anti-glare capabilities, speedier OMAP processors from Texas Instruments, faster dual-band MIMO wifi design, and a new front-facing camera among other updates, all with competitive price points,” commented Andy Castonguay, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

Amazon successfully made an impact with its Kindle e-book reader, and later with the initial Fire tablet. However, as the tablet market in particular becomes increasingly competitive, the launch of updated tablets is necessary for the firm to keep pace with competitors.

“Amazon is clearly spooked by Google’s Nexus 7 coming in at $200 for a much more capable device, and it’s upped its own hardware specs while reducing the price to $159, which is clearly an attempt to keep it somewhat attractive in the face of that new competition from Google and Asus,” said Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum.

The firm also unveiled the fifth generation Kindle e-readers: Kindle Paperwhite. According to Amazon, the e-reader has 62 per cent more pixels and 25 per cent increased contrast than previous versions, a built-in front light for reading in all lighting conditions and up to 8 weeks of battery life. It will be available from $69 in the US.

Dawson commented: “The new pure e-readers reaffirm Amazon as the clear leader in this space. The $69 price point for the basic Kindle is unbeatable, and the Paperwhite devices are now the best in class for backlit e-readers. There’s no-one else that does these things this well, this cheaply.”

Meanwhile, the online retailer also announced that it will create more than 2,000 jobs in the UK over the next two years, after opening a distribution centre in Hemel Hempstead. The depot has created 600 new roles and the firm plans to open another two in the coming months.

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