Kindle Fire HD: Better, Faster, Cheaper—Bigger!

By Kyle Wagner on at

Amazon's Kindle Fire family are finally coming to the UK, including the new Kindle Fire HD. What's more, when it gets here it's going to cost £159 —that's absurd, and if you order now it'll be in your grubby mitts on October 25th.

A little sleeker and a little rounder—a nice change from the overly boxy first Kindle Fire -- there's also a large version with an 8.9-inch screen. Oh, and the coup d'etat? The Kindle Fire HD 4G, with LTE and 32GB storage for $500 (£315). And the data plan for the LTE is just $50 a year, for the US -- though that's only with 250MB per month. That. Is. Insane. InsaneInsaneInsane. It also ships November 20th, for the US guys.

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 per cent faster than the iPad and 54 per cent 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 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 (we'll add shortly).

It's got a sharp screen with 25 per cent 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."

Amazon's also announced that it will finally be dragging its original Fire across the atlantic. Sure, it might be a year late but those of us stuck in the UK can now pick up the 7" Kindle Fire for £129. That's right £129.

The new Fire also boasts Whispersync like its HD brethren but its guts are what was really given a makover with a new faster processor, twice the memory and a beefed up battery life. The Kindle Fire will also be shipping in the UK on October 25th.