Amazon announced a new line-up of Fire tablets, and it looks to me like they’ve done a pretty good job differentiating them from the existing models, included the 8.9″ HD 4G LTE I bought just a couple months ago:-) I’m sure technophile bloggers will go on about the weight, screen improvements, etc, so I’m just going to mention the things that jumped out at me.
First, they’ve added Verizon as a a 4G LTE provider, in addition to AT&T, which was previously the only option. However, I couldn’t find any mention of a promotional 4G package with the new Fires. The promotional package was the main reason I bought my 8.9″ Fire, which came with one year of 250 MB/month from AT&T for $49. I wanted that as a business fallback for traveling and home Internet disruptions. The one thing I always envied about the iPad was that they teamed with the phone companies to offer a one-day connection plan. For me, who might want to connect to the Internet over a cellular network three or four times a year, that’s the ideal.
They’ve also added an 8MP camera to the back, which means you can probably capture decent photographs with the thing, and looking at an 8.9″ screen while shooting close-ups would probably be an interesting experience in WYSIWYG.
But the main thing that jumped out at me in the announcement has nothing to do with battery life or weight, it’s an apparent change to Prime Instant Video availability for new Fire buyers. The way I read the announcement, at least some of the Instant Video library will be available for download, rather than instant streaming. This will be a big bonus for people who want to watch movies or TV on Fire but don’t have WiFi or broadband Internet at home. I can just imagine public libraries adding a WiFi router to their parking lots so rural patrons can come download movies from Amazon without getting out of their cars:-)
You could read the announcement to mean this will be available to all Prime Members, but I don’t see the option on the website yet, and they list in an ad that seems to be Fire HDX specific features:
If it wasn’t for the possible lack of a promotional connectivity package for $49, I’d be tempted to sell my 8.9″ 4G LTE in Marketplace and buy the 7″ HDX 4G LTE when it comes out. The 8.9″ just isn’t a good size for me, it’s awkward to carry around I even prefer watching movies on my original 7″ Fire, despite the weight and lower resolution.
In any case, I’m really interested to see if Amazon is creating multiple classes of Prime Membership, where those with newer devices get access to expanded benefits. It would be one way for them to drive an upgrade cycle if they are making money on the hardware, but I’m not sure it would be a wise choice in the loyalty department.