While anticipation builds regarding a possible mini version of the iPad (probably in October), Amazon headed in the other direction, rolling out a larger, 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD at an event on Thursday. Priced at $299, it offers tons of new features (a front-facing camera, for example), robust Wi-Fi MIMO technology, more memory (16 GB), and a faster processor than the original to go along with a high-resolution 1200 by 1900 pixel display. You can check out CNET (as well as about a hundred other sites on the net) for a full rundown on the specs. A version with a 7-inch screen, but otherwise identical features, will sell for $199. Amazon also announced a step-up version of the 8.9-inch Fire, with 32 GB of memory and 4G LTE connectivity via AT&T. It's priced at $499, plus $50 per year for a data plan that allows just 250 MB of traffic a month -- fine for web browsing or checking email, but far too little for streaming movies or even music. The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD ships Sept. 14, while the 8.9-inch versions ship on Nov. 20.
New paperwhite e-reader
The Kindle line of e-readers also drew its share of attention, most notably in the form of the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. As its name implies, the Kindle Paperwhite replaces the grey of the standard E Ink screen with a white background, similar to reading black text on a white book page. Rather than a backlit display, typical with LCD technology, the Kindle Paperwhite uses innovative front-lit technology. The result is improved readability, with bright whites and deeper blacks than earlier Kindles. Even with the device's light left on, battery life is estimated at eight weeks. Neat bells and whistles include a feature that calculates the amount of time you'll need to finish a book based on your reading speed. It's priced at $119, with a version with free 4G costing $179. The Kindle Paperwhite will ship Oct. 1.
Old favorites get a refresh
For those looking for a good deal rather than the latest technology, Amazon slightly refreshed existing models of the Kindle and Kindle Fire -- equipping them with somewhat faster processors for example -- and cut their pricing. The base Kindle Fire, which also sees an increase in internal storage from 8 GB to 16 GB, drops to $159 from its current $199, while the cheapest Kindle will be reduced $10 to $69. Both ship on Sept. 14.
Stay tuned to ConsumerSearch as we will be updating our reports on eBook readers and tablet computers as soon as hands-on reviews of the Kindle Fire HD tablet and Kindle Paperwhite e-reader are available.