In Santa Monica, Amazon Unveils New Kindles

UPDATED: Amazon "mixes it up" by making its big announcement about new products—including the Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Paperwhite—at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.

A new e-reader called thinner than a magazine and lighter than a paperback and a new high-resolution Kindle Fire HD were unveiled Thursday in Santa Monica by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

It wasn't immediately clear why Amazon announced its new offerings in a hanger at the Santa Monica Airport. One Amazon spokesperson told Patch that the company has nothing to say about it. Amazon Kindle Vice President Peter Larsen told Patch that Amazon chose the venue "to mix it up a little bit."

"Secondly, really for our tablets, it's all about the entertainment experience," Larsen said. "So, movies, books, apps, TV shows; and as we all know, this is the capital of a lot of the media in the state, so we thought it appropriate to have it down here."

Some technology journalists in attendance speculated that the online seller chose Santa Monica because of the city's close proximity to Hollywood, a kingpin of global content creation.

"Who owns the content? Who makes the content, create the contents? The people in Los Angeles," said Eliane Fiolet, co-founder of technology website Ubergizmo. "So it makes … sense that … the tech industry is growing in Los Angeles because it's all about the content."
Competing in a tablet market with Apple and Microsoft, Amazon has kept the prices of its devices low and opted for the console approach, said Mobile Network technology reporter Stephane Koenig.

"They realize that the main thing you're going to be doing with the hardware is consuming content, which they're going to sell you," said Koenig.

Priced at $199, the 7-inch, 20-ounce Fire HD tablet includes dual-band Wi-Fi, 16GB of storage and a pair of Dolby Digital speakers. For $499, users can opt for a bigger, 8.9-inch version of the device, which comes shipped with 32GB of storage and an internal 4G LTE wireless modem.

An AT&T 4G data plan of 250MB per month and 20GB of cloud storage is also being offered for $50 a year.

The Fire HD also has an integrated interface with Internet Movie Database—called X-Ray for Movies—which lets users access information about a movie's cast and crew while watching it. A similar service for books, X-Ray for Books, was introduced in 2011 on the Kindle Touch and is now being offered on the Kindle Fire.

The Kindle Paperwhite, which Amazon claims will make reading text on a tablet infinitely better—boasting 62 percent more pixels and 25 percent more contrast than its predecessor, the Kindle—is priced at $119. The device is also offered with 3G wireless for $179.

For a full list for technical specifications on the Kindle line of devices, visit the Kindle Store.


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